BY Neal Broverman
February 16 2010 8:45 PM ET
On your website it says the shoot is happening rain or shine. Have
you ever photographed an installation in inclement weather?
made a work in Ireland with 2,500 people on a sea wall [in the rain],
and then after two frames, everyone left except 500 people — they danced
in the water and posed in the bay. It was a very crazed moment. I was
on my megaphone alone, and all these happy but bewildered people ran past
me naked. But a cold, rainy Australia is different than a cold,, rainy
Ireland. And I work fast.
How long do your shoots take?
this one we’re doing work outside and then we’re bringing people
inside the opera house, so we’re really immersing ourselves into the
architecture. As I go along I lessen the amount of people. So, if I
start out with 2,000, I separate them either by sex or by age and make
smaller works along the way. So, in the end, I have enough work at the end
of an installation — maybe six or seven works for an exhibition.
What’s the planning been like for this installation?
media and the general press is very interested in Australia, but I’m
finding it a little difficult to get the straight community to pose
with the gay community. The opposite way is fine. But to get the
straight community to let down their guard amongst the gay community is
more difficult. But two weeks, three weeks from now, I may eat those words. But if I get over 2,000 people, I’m set.
What’s your next project after Sydney?
I’m going to surround the courthouse in California with 10,000 people embracing — naked. Just kidding! I’d
like to do a work in California. There are such amazing landscapes, and the
people are so unique in character. It’s really about pulling people
from the city out into nature. I think there’s an opportunity to pull
2,000 people from L.A. to Joshua Tree. Or I’d love to do some work in
Vegas, with the glitz and the light. Maybe some night work with the
lights. Someone from the board of tourism [in Las Vegas] was interested, and I asked if there a museum to attach it to. Maybe they got cold feet, because they
never called me back.
The problem with my work is that in the U.S. we
have such great First Amendment rights people fighting for the right to
do nudes on television and the movies. But public space is still a time
bomb. A lot of the laws against nudes in public space are based on
protecting the general public from the porn industry. What that does
is affect artists like myself working with public space in a not-so-aggressive manner. I can be arrested in almost any state; I could end
up in jail for a very long time. It’s a very difficult thing for me.
So I’d like to work more in the United States; I hope to fight some of
those corrupt laws that exist against nudity.