Photographer Spencer Tunick in Munich: More than thousand nacked volunteers at Odeonsplatz

Hundreds of participants pose at the Feldherrenhalle building in Munich for the project "The Ring". photo: Tobias Hase

Early in the morning, 4:30 a.m. at Odeonsplatz in Munich. At 12 degrees, the sky slowly clears up, some drunken men are returning home after celabrating the successful football match beween Germany and Greece at the European championship.  The town is still sleeping, but the air is vibrating. The New Yorker photographer Spencer Tunick likes the atmosphere early in the morning, «I like working in the soft light at sunrise – there is something apocalyptic in it. And the town is empty and dreaming.»

The dreamy szenery becomes quite real around 5 am: Hundreds of nacked people, painted in red, appear at the Ludwigstrasse. Many of them rejoice and roar «Undress», as if to encourage themselves. A few minutes later, Spencer Tunick stands ten metres above the masses on a lifting platform. He gives instructions, such as «Take off your glasses and move closer together», and finally an art work emerges out of the bunch of nacked people. The first formations visualise the workers in the flames of Richard Wagner’s underworld «Nibelheim»


Spencer Tunick (middle) gives instructions. photo: Tobias Hase

The second motif was the fire-spitting mouth of the dragon enrolling from the Feldherrnhalle onto the Odeonsplatz. And at the end, 1700 volunteers, painted in red and gold, gather at the Max-Joseph-Platz in front of the Opera to form a ring all together.

All motifs are elements taken from Richard Wagner’s opera «Ring des Nibelungen». The tribute to the musician is something new for Spencer Tunick. «My aim is to make reference to Wagner, not to celebrate him». For the first time, Tunick let his models perform painted in colours.

The artist has been invited by the Bavarian National Opera for his year’s festival’s opening. «The idea behind the arrangements of Tunick is to show the myth of the human being by means of the body, it is an extention oft he musical programme.», said artistic director Nikolaus Bachler.


More than 1000 volunteers pose at the Max-Joseph monument for the installation project. photo: Tobias Hase

As a thank-you gift for the commitment of three hours, every participant receives a copy of the pictures, he or she was posing at. «I am happy to work in Germany», said Tunick at the end. «Nowadays, the body is put under a strict censorship, but my aim is to sensualize people a little more through my works.»

Since 1992, people are attracted by the ideas of Spencer Tunick. Thousands want to be part of his imagination. In a previous project, Tunick has photographed bodies floating in the Dead Sea, to protest against waste of water. Another project depicted hundreds of nacked people standing at a Swiss glacier – a work about climate change.