Is it possible to keep a straight face and view art totally starkers? Well the National Gallery of Australia has conducted the first of their series of nude tours for after-hours, adult-only of the current James Turrell exhibition. It seems to have kept blushing and sniggering at bay!
The tour offered by Melbourne-based contemporary artist Stuart Ringholt was open to nudists only. It is hoped that this unique view of the gallery’s summer exhibition would remove the material barrier between artist and audience. Those who took the tour this morning all agreed that after some initial awkwardness, walking around the gallery naked did not feel as strange as expected. “Everyone’s all in it together, so it’s not weird or anything,” one man said. “Once you’re there… you go, ‘Oh I could look at all art like this, for the rest of my life’. I’ll probably get arrested in future,” he said. Their bodies changed radically. It was almost like they were a changeling from a science fiction film or something… The nude body works really well with Turrell. Stuart Ringholt added; “Many of the gallery-goers commented that viewing the Turrell exhibition naked helped them experience the art more completely, by removing peripheral distractions”.
“You don’t have the clothing distracting you. And because of the light installations, everyone very neutral,” one woman said. “It just gives it a very different perspective.” ‘Everyone becomes very equal’.
In the 1980s and 90s Turrell developed works that expose visitors to total darkness or isolate an individual in a contained environment. After green1993 is an immersive installation: its intense red, with soft and hard edges, make it disorientating and exquisite. Bindu shards 2010 is a light cycle for one person, a bodily kaleidoscope with patterns of crystals, shards of light, stars, galaxies and nebulae. This Ganzfeld is part of Turrell’s largest and most marvellous series to date. Once inside, saturated in colour, with no edges or corners, we are uncertain of our surrounds—a feeling akin to walking on clouds. This is contemporary art as you’ve never seen before, and promises an experience not to be missed.
Photo: Via Twitter courtesy National Gallery of Australia
The exhibition runs until 8 June @ The National Gallery of Australia