Woolworths Cancels Spencer Tunick’s Mass Nude Photo Shoot in Melbourne—Because It Would Turn Off Grocery Shoppers

The shoot featuring over 10,000 naked volunteers was scheduled to take place on the store's rooftop parking lot.

Photographer Spencer Tunick. Photo: Lars Niki/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film.

Spencer Tunick’s subjects will have to put their clothes back on—for now. The photographer, known for his mass nude photoshoots, was barred from snapping more than 10,000 volunteers on a rooftop parking lot after the Australian supermarket chain that owns the building pulled the plug on the project.

A spokeswoman for the supermarket chain Woolworths said the photoshoot may discourage some customers from shopping at the supermarket. “The request for the photo was for the weekend, which is the busiest time of the week for shopping in our stores,” she told the BBC.

In response, Tunick started a petition to convince Woolworths to reconsider its decision.

The photographer insisted the picture was scheduled to take place in the early hours before the store opens to the public. And he pointed out that no one would have been able to identify the supermarket in the work. “There’s no signage that says it’s Woolworths,” the photographer said. “It’s just a place where the good denizens of Melbourne will gather to make a community-oriented artwork that is naked but not a crime.”

A local business association came out in support of Tunick, accusing the supermarket of being “prudish” and called the decision “ludicrous,” the BBC reported.

According to the photographer, he and his team spent over a year searching for the perfect location.“I really needed this space for this idea,” he said. “It was going to be a highlight—the most important work I was making on this trip.”

Tunick has staged over 120 large-scale, participatory nude photoshoots in more than 30 countries over the course of his career, including a 2010 shoot in front of Sydney’s iconic opera house. “Previously, I’ve only had my locations taken away by conservative government and presidential palaces,” he said.

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