Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick is an internationally renowned photographer known for his large-scale installations using the human body. 

1. Who do you feel your artwork is for?
I make my works for myself and my family, and hopefully participants taking part will be satisfied with the resulting photographic works and the experience.


2. Your work has the added benefit of empowering many people who take part. Is this a desired outcome from your work, or a happy accident? 

I'm very lucky that the works I make have become a holistic experience  for many of the participants. 


3. What are some obstacles or difficulties you've encountered as an artist who works with the body?

Projects have been denied, Installations have been canceled, I have been arrested many times and the threat of arrest is often around the corner.


4. How have you worked through/around them?

With patience and resilience from the museums and institutions working with local governments we make it happen most often. But, When I am working alone on 100 person works or less, we never give the location away to anyone to protect the safety of the participants. 


5. How has your artwork changed over time (if it has)? 

I've been doing more indoor works and works in nature. Outdoors I am using more props and having people standing in set-ups, as opposed to always lying down or on the ground so often. 


6. Have you had your artwork or other posts censored for showing specifically female nudity?

Yes. From newspapers in the Middle East using huge blocks of color to cover images to small bars being used to cover breasts and genitals in Asia. Also my work is deleted quite often on social media platforms. It's unfortunate that the female breasts will most likely not be set free on social media in my lifetime. Of course hopefully it will be. The beginning of this transformation will probably be the allowance of the female nude breast from a distance. The problem with the social media companies is that they consider this a world issue, applying the community standards of let's say Saudi Arabia to that of New York. Too bad New York can't be an experiment for allowing female breasts on social media. Not sure how this would be done algorithmically, but it would be quite interesting if possible. 


7. If you know, do more men or women show up to pose for your photos?

Approximately 52% men participate and 48% women in general within that number are many participants of all genders. 


8. Do you find yourself self-censoring your posts and/or artwork? (ie making decisions to show or even take images which will conform around our social stigmas)

In order for me to have a presence on social media I/we need to self-censor my posts on social media. All genitals and female breasts unfortunately need to be covered. 


9. If yes, why do you do it? (ie to what end, or for whom)

Instagram is now the magazine of the world and if you want to be in this world dialogue then you need to have a presence. Also I gather people to make my work. My medium is people, so I need to reach my medium in order to make my work. Social Media is an important part of that fir me and my work. 


10. What do you tell people who don't "get" your work?

I just make my work, at this point in my art career and life, I try not to tell anyone anything or convince anyone of anything. 


11. How does self-censoring make you feel? 

Tired, defeated, controlled. These are things I try to fight against.


12. Any story you'd like to tell or comment you'd like to make? Feel free to say whatever you'd like here!

I think social media platforms should allow artistic nudity, and if they don't then if they require artists and the public to self-censor their images then there should be a way for artists not to be deleted if they do not properly censor their works. No artist's accounts should be deleted if they are trying to comply with the rules of the platform they are on, but maybe have made a mistake and their entire account has been taken down purposefully or by accident. The deletion of an artist's social media account is comparable to the police invading your studio or office and throwing your computer out of a 10 story building  window of with all your contacts. It's devastating! 

Please check out this new website that I am one of the curators of: DontDelete.Art
We're fighting back