2017 is the year Hull will be celebrated as the United Kingdom’s City of Culture. There are numerous ways artists and supporters are marking the occasion, however some appear to be pushing the boundaries more than others.
Spencer Tunick is one of those extraordinary artists whose contribution to this celebration of art and culture has featured prominently across the media.
Tunick is an American born photographer who creates complex socio-political images often depicting the naked human form. The works he has created for display in Hull this year extend on this theme and will appear in Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery under the exhibition title, ‘SKIN’. The works were commissioned by the Art Gallery specifically for this prestigious event and are on display in the flagship exhibition.
To call them eye-catching would not do them justice. His works are captivating.Tunick has worked with 3,200 people, each nude, and photographed them in iconic local settings. The piece entitled ‘Sea of Hull’ shows the nude individuals painted in a palette of blues. When viewed together as a group, the nudes transform into a body water, wrapped around magnificent architectural monuments and settings.
In an article dated 21st April 2017, the BBC recalled comments made by Spencer Tunick from 2016 as he discussed the works: “The Sea of Hull installation was one of the most fantastic projects I’ve ever done, and it was inspiring to be able to intertwine the City’s maritime heritage against an urban backdrop throughout the whole piece.”
The works are, therefore, a fascinating mix of a thoroughly modern installation with strong symbolic ties to the City’s important history.
Producing works of this kind, however, is not without it’s complications. On Spencer Tunick’s own professional website the photographer indicates the issues associated with creating this type of artwork, particularly within America. “In order to make his work without the threat of arrest” the website confirms, “the artist took his work abroad. He has not undertaken a group installation on the streets of New York in over fifteen years,” as a result of a series of police led arrests. In light of these difficulties, we might view this new body of work, shot in and around the public areas of Hull city centre, with an additional admiration and respect.
Shown alongside Tunick’s works in the exhibition that runs from 22nd April until 13th August 2017, are other works that concentrate on the nude form, works by Lucian Freud and sculptor Ron Mueck. There will also be on display a preparatory study for Edouard Manet’s controversial Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe.
VEDO will keep eyes on Hull’s arts and cultural festivities as it continues to enjoy and celebrate its tenure as the United Kingdom’s City of Culture 2017.