15 Euros Of Flesh

Some People Will Do Anything

Around 1.840 people participated in a naked installation by New York artist Spencer Tunick on May 11 in Happel Stadium, where the Final Soccer Game of the UEFA EURO 2008 will take place. They were volunteers. In return for their participation they received a limited edition installation photograph and a free train ticket within Austria from the ÖBB.

Only participants had access to the stadium and they were only nude for a short period of time but there was a lot of media interested, and they were nude among thousands of other people.

Still, it was weird. I took a drawing class last term that involved drawing naked people, old and young women and a man in his 30´s. At first I blushed, but after a while it was like any other object. But then I started to wonder about the person I was drawing.

I ended up talking to them, looking beneath the interior. It turns out they get 15 Euros an hour. That’s all: Only 15 Euros per hour. Sure it’s more than being a waitress, but still, it would take a lot more to get me to pose naked in front of a class. Is it because I value the body too much? Do I think of nudity as something holy.

One of the models told me she just did a little of this “life” modeling on the side to support her studies; she is getting a degree in German Studies at the University of Vienna. How would her parents feel about this extra curriculum, I wondered? She was sure “they were cool with it.” Her boyfriend? She didn’t have one. There it was;  she has the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her body – free to pose nude for 15 Euros, a photo and free train ticket.

Tunick’s photographs and films will be on display beginning June 24th at 8.30 pm, at the Kunsthalle Wien on Karlsplatz.

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