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Hundreds of Australians shed off in Melbourne for Spencer Tunick's mass nude photos

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 9 July 2018, 14:51 IST

More than 500 shivering Austalians posed for Spencer Tunick's nude photographs on top of a Melbourne parking lot.

American artist Spencer Tunick, organised the photo shoot which took place this morning in temperatures of approximately 48 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes just weeks after supermarket chain Woolworths reversed its decision to ban the event from its premises.

Initially, Woolworths denied access to its branch in Melbourne's Prahran neighborhood, citing inconvenience to weekend shoppers. But following public outcry and a high-profile petition, the supermarket last month agreed to host the shoot on condition that it was rescheduled for a quieter Monday timeslot.

A Woolworths spokesperson said that the retailer was "very supportive of the Provocaré Festival of the Arts and the Chapel Street community in which we operate," attributing the U-turn to festival organizers' flexibility regarding the timing of the shoot.

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"It's very rare for a corporation... to be part of something where the body is nude -- it's almost impossible," he said in a phone interview to CNN. "So it's very brave moment for something like this to happen, when (other) corporations are restricting the body and freedom."

The gathering was one of four Melbourne photo shoots organized by Tunick for the city's Provocaré arts festival. Known collectively as "Return of the Nude," the art project saw another 500 naked participants photographed in six shades of body paint at a separate Melbourne location Sunday morning.

More than 12,000 people applied to take part in the project, with more than 920 selected for the final shots. For Michael Boland, a 35-year-old banker who flew from Sydney to Melbourne specifically for the shoot, participating was about overcoming inhibitions.

"You think of the fear of it, then you've just got to do it," he said in a phone interview. "I think we're all slightly body conscious, but when you put it in front of 500 people, it changes.

"I'm glad that the backlash made (Woolworths) reconsider," he added. "We have to be more open as a society. We can't think of the fear that people being naked on top of a roof is going to cause consternation, when in reality it's an expression of freedom."

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First published: 9 July 2018, 14:51 IST