Looking for a new way to get up close and personal with art? How about a museum tour … in the nude?
For two days in April, artist Stuart Ringholt is inviting visitors to join his naked self on birthday-suit-only tours of his exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Ringholt is an earnest absurdist, obsessed with messing up our concept of how the world should function. Some of his work includes mass-produced chairs for insanely skinny people, dropping a pine tree into a deep pit as a sudden reversal of the growth process and standing in a busy square in Florence with toilet paper peeking out the back of his pants.
This upcoming exhibition isn’t the first time Ringholt has involved his viewers in performance. His Funny Fear Workshops of 2004 at Gertrude contemporary Art Space were designed, according to Frieze magazine, to “rid visitors of their fear of embarrassment by living through the moment in a safe environment.” Still, asking your viewers to go nude for you in a museum takes audience participation to a new goose-pimply level.
How did Ringholt managed to convince the museum to do this? Well, he’s done it before. But there may be more to it as MOCA Australia curator Rachel Kent frankly admitted to The Wall Street Journal that “Sydney loves nude people.” We can only assume her insight means that when it comes to feeling more connected to art, this is exactly what Sydneysiders are looking for.
One blogger, Mark W. Free, explained his own experience taking part in a Ringholt nude tour at the Australian Center for Contemporary Art in Melbourne late last year:
Standing in ACCA’s cavernous lobby, we assemble as a charismatically bumbling Stuart Ringholt runs through some general house keeping; dos and don’ts just in case some of us need to be reminded that just because we consent to being nude together doesn’t open the door for any other lewd or untoward behaviour. This is easily the most nerve-wracking part of the whole experience. Imagine you’re being rallied together on a school excursion except everyone is a stranger and you’re about to see one another’s junk.
… After some quiet perusal the group assembles and an informal discussion ensues. Stuart talks about his art and others’, we all talk about how we’re feeling and before you know it we’re back out in the light of day fully clothed and I hardly recognise a soul. It’s strange to think that anonymity can be achieved alongside such intimacy.
The nude tours run from April 27–29, 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (George Street, The Rocks, New South Wales, Australia), followed by a nude reception. Adults only. Changing area available. Tickets available here.