Spencer Tunick's Ring - Munich - Day 1
June 22, 2012

Spencer Tunick collaborates with The Bayerische Staatsoper to create Wagner's Ring
in front of the Bavarian State Opera House on Max Joseph Platz and at other nearby locations.

Official video produced by Spencer Tunick and Bayerische Staatsoper

People often ask me why information about the next installation is never available before it is officially announced. And sure enough, if you have ever been in a position to query Spencer in person about the next dates and location, he will quickly find a way to change topics, or he will flatly deny any rumours you throw at him - as happened to me in April 2012. Spencer was at my home on a short visit to the UK to hand-deliver 4 large Naked Sea prints to top level Kickstarter backers, and to present prints to participants of the Prested Hall Party Installation. When I brought up the subject of Munich, Spencer flatly denied that anything was happening and told me not to book flights or hotels, because I could be wasting my money. 5 days later, Spencer was in Munich and the installation was officially announced. Which goes to show that even those who are close to the artist rarely get any advance information, even if (and especially if) it is only a few days before an official announcement.

What makes the announcement of an installation so special is the fact that there is very little advance warning or rumours to diffuse a press launch: one moment there is nothing - not even rumours, the next moment it is in the press, on the Spencer Tunick Forum and all over Facebook. Spencer rightfully keeps his next locations and dates a guarded secret, so that when they are finally announced, they create the maximum impact. There have been exceptions: the date for Naked Sea was in the public domain long before registration began, and plans for Eternal Sunrise at Montauk Point were circulating in the local press long before an announcement was made - which didn't fare well when the whole project had to be put back a year while permits to work at Montauk Point were obtained. 

So a very big question mark looms over three destinations that Spencer cited to the press in Munich, shortly after the end of the main installation: Berlin, Scandinavia, Italy. Are they real? Are they soon? Are they a decoy? I guess we'll find out when the registration pages go live.

A few hours before Spencer made this dubious announcement, around 1700 brave volunteers were gathered in Marstallplatz with small containers of body paint in their hands, waiting for the word to disrobe and paint themselves red or gold.

Flash's story follows below. More written accounts will follow

Gil Limor, July 2012


Flash: My Story behind the Picture

I noticed Spencer Tunick’s work some time ago, but it really only clicked with the Greenpeace action on the glacier: playing with the vulnerability of nature and of naked people, that is really a great idea for a work of art. When I heard on the morning news that Spencer was coming to Munich it was a no-brainer choice to participate. Registration was the first thing after getting online in the morning; I was really looking forward to some great fun! 

But as life goes, nothing is straightforward and a dark cloud appeared on the horizon. A week later, actually on the first day of my vacation, I woke up at 4:30 with a strange pain in the stomach, and by 6:30 I was in an ambulance, heading to the emergency room. At the hospital my wife was told that the situation was critical and there was just 1 chance in 3 for me to return home! That is life changing! 

On the fourth day in hospital the doctor went straight to the point and told that I would need surgery to stop this incident from occurring again, because next time I would probably not be the lucky 1 in 3 who makes it home. That blew me away. I put on some loud “Silbermond” music, and then it became clear: I love my wife and my children and there is only one thing to be done – get out my  bed by any means, recover and re-energize my body, which by the end of hospitalization will have lost 10% of its weight. The only way to do this would be to get back on my bike, get back to work, get in best possible shape for mid of July and, well, take June 23rd as an interim target :-)

I was one of the red ones – yes it was hard work, but I made it. As we all walked down Ludwigstaße, I tried to avoid getting too close to the TV and press cameras, which made me fall back to the end of the group. I half expected to end up in the back of the picture, but as the group passed by Spencer’s camera, I found myself close to the front. Many others were also surprised to find themselves in front, and following Spencer’s instructions, there was a lot of movement as people adjusted their position back and forth and between the centre and the sides. Without too much thinking I filled an empty space in front of me, which happened to be quite centric in the first row.

Was that a smart move? It doesn’t matter. Spencer was 6-7 meters above me and when I looked straight, he could at best take a picture of my great hair cut ;-) “Stand still, arms to the side, look straight, don’t smile” came the instructions, and suddenly his assistant was just in front of me taking pictures. 

That was not on the agenda, ey! But instead of a how-to-vanish-into-thin-air instinct, some other feeling started filling up my body and brain: “I am here. I am alive and kickin’. And this makes me feel it. I don’t need to care about what others may think or say later. Thank you for this picture. It is more to me than that.” 
That picture was to my surprise on the Sunday evening party presentation, I need to say I was proud to see myself there. Overall a great photograph and a really good picture of myself ;-), which is not a given thing as I usually never know what to do with my arms and legs when getting into a picture (ref. 128), and is my smile visible or rather clownish? And that with a body, which is a little off the mainstream idea of attractiveness, so to speak. But everybody being in same, very simple and minimalistic pose, painted red, that did work. Thanks! 

Having said this – my thanks go to all the red and gold people. It was a pleasure being part of the group. The day was a lot of fun and felt more like a happening than a photograph session. Finally the Sunday evening party was an important element for me as it brought everyone together under “normal life” conditions. It leveled the whole craziness of be being naked red in the Munich city center into the range of “what’s up? This is life at its best.”

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