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Spencer Tunick gathers 2,500 volunteers for mass naked photo shoot on Bondi Beach

<i>Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>The shoot was designed to raise awareness around skin cancer.
AFP via Getty Images
Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images
The shoot was designed to raise awareness around skin cancer.

Jack Guy and Christian Edwards, CNN

Around 2,500 people stripped off for a naked photo shoot on Australia’s Bondi Beach on Saturday, designed to raise awareness of skin cancer.

The crowd gathered to take part in the latest work by US photographic artist Spencer Tunick, who is known for naked photo shoots at important landmarks around the world.

“We have an opportunity to raise awareness about skin checks and I’m honoured … to come here, make my art and just celebrate the body and protection,” Tunick said at the beach in Sydney, according to Reuters.

One of the participants, Robyn Lindner, said she had been nervous about taking part.

“I was secretly terrified (and) last night I have to confess I was thinking, ‘What have I done?’ But it was great, everyone was a really good vibe, everyone was really respectful and it just felt really fun,” Lindner told the agency.

It is Tunick’s fourth project in Australia, following on from a 2010 shoot in which he gathered some 5,500 people at Sydney’s famous Opera House.

Tunick is partnering with Skin Check Champions, a charity that runs free, educational skin check clinics. The installation coincided with Australia’s National Skin Cancer Action Week, when Scott Maggs, the founder of the charity, will be urging everyone in the country to get a skin check.

Maggs founded Skin Check Champions in 2010, after his friend Wes Bonny died of skin cancer at the age of 26. The charity has since received endorsements from the likes of British businessman Richard Branson — and is hoping Tunick’s stark photos will draw global attention to the disease.

“We’re aiming for a minimum of 2,000 participants to represent the 2,000+ Aussies that are killed by skin cancer every year,” said Maggs in a press release.

“If the Sydney Opera House can get 5,500 on a cold morning in March 2010, we’re hoping to reach our goal of 2,500,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to participate, we welcome all body types, genders, and race — with a passion to stop skin cancer in its tracks.”

Tunick said in a statement that it was “an honor to be a part of an art mission to raise awareness of the importance of skin checks” — and added that he himself would be benefiting from the campaign, having been convinced to get his first skin check in 10 years.

Tunick has staged around 100 large-scale nude photos in public places around the world, from Munich to Mexico City, where he shot a reported 18,000 naked participants.

But these shoots are not easy. As thousands of volunteers strip off, city officials have been known to intervene — leading to Tunick’s arrest on multiple occasions.

Tunick was once caught in a dispute between the US Supreme Court and New York’s then-mayor Rudi Giuliani, who believed the city would be “irreparably harmed” if one of the shoots were staged there.

In 2018, an Australian supermarket chain banned Tunick from holding a shoot in the parking lot of one of its Melbourne stores — a decision that was eventually overturned following a high-profile petition.

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