Hundreds of volunteers stripped naked, wearing nothing but white masks for a photograph. 

Organised by Spencer Tunick, the US-born artist, the installation involved some 220 naked bodies standing 2-meters apart, wearing masks and observing COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. For safety reasons, the volunteers also had to complete a pre-screening questionnaire and were temperature checked on arrival.

Braving the cold, the participants stood naked outside the Alexandra Palace in London during the early hours of the 12th September, 2020. All in the name of art

Credit: Spencer Tunick for Sky Arts

Supported by Sky Arts and to mark the channel becoming free for everybody, this is thought to be the first major participatory work of art since the UK went into lockdown in March 2020. ‘Sky Arts for Everyone’ has released a series of new commissions to celebrate: “As part of the free to air launch, Sky Arts will embark on an ambitious programme of activity to support and champion the arts at a vital time for the cultural sector – putting artists, creatives, and public participation centre stage on a channel that everyone across the UK can watch.”

Sky Arts director, Phil Edgar Jones stated that, “To celebrate Sky Arts becoming free for everyone, we wanted to create a landmark cultural moment that invited participation in a COVID-safe fashion, and demonstrated to the wider public that art is at its most essential when it is for – and about – everybody,” He went on to say that, “The sense that the arts is for a self-selecting group of people is disappearing, and that can only be a good thing.”

The installation, titled ‘Everyone Together’, was made up of participants from all different ages and backgrounds, including, doctors, teachers and care home workers. 

The volunteers were photographed at different angles. In one of the photographs, the participants stood opposite each other in pairs opposite, attempting to kiss through their masks.

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In a statement, Tunick said that, “The reality of masses of people close together – shoulder to shoulder, skin touching skin – may be something of the past for now, but still the desire is there for that natural connectivity, perhaps more so now than ever,” The artist stated that the installation was “liberating and life-affirming” and that the projects was all about “breaking down barriers”.

Spencer Tunick is famous for bringing together hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of participants to pose for striking nude photographs. He has produced more than 75 human installations around the world in public locations since 1992. Previous installations transformed locations including the Sydney Opera House, The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Melbourne and Mexico City. He has also created a 360º video titled, ‘Bodø Bodyscape’, which was shot in Bodø Biennale in Norway. 

During the lockdown, Tunick had to find a new medium to practice his art, in the form of video conferencing technology. The project, ‘Stay Apart Together’, involved mask-wearing, nude participants to assume coordinated poses in front of their computer cameras. Tunick then captured each individual through screenshots.

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