Monday, October 08, 2007

Spencer Gifts, or, Jumping the Shark

You know Spencer Gifts, the shopping mall store where you can buy the tackiest crap known to man. After today's "installation" in Miami Beach, perhaps some of Spencer Tunick's photographs will be made into a calendar appropriate for selling at Spencer Gifts.

I've long been a supporter of Spencer Tunick's work. At his best he challenges the status quo of society, juxtaposing the fragile nude human body with urban landscapes where unclad humans are forbidden. But today Tunick seems to have become Fonzie "jumping the shark" in order to find gimmicks to keep his audience interested.

According to Tunick, today's lavish shoot was designed as a commentary on excess, but instead might have become excessive in its own pretentiousness and contrivance.

Does an artist direct nude models to shake bottles of champagne to explode like a human fountain, or is this a gimmick that a commercial photographer would use in Vegas? Does an artist pick out only the thinner models to lie in pink rafts in a huge swimming pool, or is this something that a photographer for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue would do?

I liked the Greenpeace nude shoot that Tunick did last month. Posing hundreds of naked bodies on a melting glacier is a wonderful metaphor to illustrate the perils of global warming. Perhaps Tunick's photos from Miami today will impress once they are finally released, but based upon what I've read and seen so far online about the event today, it does appear that Tunick has finally jumped the shark.

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