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May 26, 2001 12:50pm
Montrealers Strip for NY Photographer
Source: AP
by: Phil Courvette

(MONTREAL) -- Lying in the streets naked could get you in trouble in most places, but in Montreal Saturday some 2,000 people stripped with the blessing of authorities to pose for a New York photographer famed for juxtaposing flesh and concrete.

Spencer Tunick had asked Montrealers to strip for his latest ``human sculpture'' - part of his Nude Adrift series that will take him to every continent, including Antarctica, to shoot group nudes.

The throngs began disrobing enthusiastically at 5:30 a.m. as the morning air hovered at 55 degrees. Two young women and a man apparently changed their minds and tried to make a run for it once the order to get naked was given - but could not get into a nearby mall. Its doors had been locked to prevent photographers from entering to get good shots of the nudes.

``I want to thank the city of Montreal for recognizing this as art,'' Tunick told the crowd. ``This is art. Not good art or bad art, but it's art.''

Tunick first had his nude models lie down side by side in curled positions on the corner of St. Catherine and Jeanne Mance streets. Nearby, Montreal's Museum of Contemporary Art ran an exhibit featuring his photos called Metamorphosis and Cloning.

He then had them lie face up for a second shot.

People were naked for about an hour. Tunick received a loud ovation when he told people they could put their clothes back on.

``I feel extremely energized,'' said Jean-Pierre Leclerq, 41, after taking part in the session, ``It was a lot fun. Nobody was uncomfortable, we all seemed very at ease.''

Tunick said he was impressed by the turnout, which topped all this previous nude shoots, and praised Montreal as a ``very open-minded and progressive'' city.

He's been arrested for some of his previous work including shots he did in his native New York City.

Tunick says he is attempting to show humanity's collective vulnerability in a cruel, harsh world.

``It's an abstraction, that seeps into and onto the pavement, that creates a sense of vulnerability to the body juxtaposed (against) a very harsh outside world with many things coming against us,'' Tunick said after the shoot. ``Environmental issues, social issues, anything coming up against the body, which is pure. So this is where the body tries to overpower the street.''

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