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Naked World: America Undercover (2003)

TV Movie  -   -  Documentary  -  September 2003 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 176 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

One year. Seven continents. More than 6,000 naked people--all willing to bare all for Spencer Tunick in the name of art. This globally scaled follow-up to the America Undercover documentary... See full summary »

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(as Arlene Donnelly Nelson)
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Title: Naked World: America Undercover (TV Movie 2003)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Spencer Tunick ...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ronald Kuby ...
Himself (as Ron Kuby)
Jonathan Porcelli ...
Himself
...
Himself
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Storyline

One year. Seven continents. More than 6,000 naked people--all willing to bare all for Spencer Tunick in the name of art. This globally scaled follow-up to the America Undercover documentary Naked States finds the celebrated and controversial artist at work on his most ambitious project: a one-year trek to all seven continents to shoot people in the nude--individually, in groups and against various man-made and natural backdrops. Written by Anonymous

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September 2003 (USA)  »

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Naked World  »

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Not a documentary, more a record of events with barely any critical analysis
16 May 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The New York based artist Spencer Tunick takes pictures of nudes in public places – contrasting the naked bodies with the harsh architecture of the cities etc. Fed up of being arrested in New York for public indecency he decides to set out to go across the globe taking nude shots as well as doing group shots of nudes. With each country he gets different problems and benefits – the French are the most reserved, the Japanese afraid of losing jobs for being naked and the Australians barely need to be asked twice.

I generally seem to have a problem with modern art because some of it deliberately tries to be controversial and actually have very little merit other than shock value. The argument that this type of art is good because 'it gets people talking and brings people to all art' is nonsense and never washes with me. However, I generally try to reserve judgement on things until I actually see it – hence me watching this film. I have already seen some of Tunick's work and was quite unimpressed by it, I didn't get the point and just saw it doing stuff that gets headlines. Watching this film I got an impression of the logistics of organising the shoots as well as the motivation of the people who had agreed to get naked. Other that this the film manages to deliver very little other than the interest/curiosity factor of watching lots of people pose nude in public places.

What I wanted was insight: basically Tunick is given lots of chances to really talk about his work and his aims but he doesn't take any of them, only giving vague comments about his intentions – in fact he contradicts himself when he agrees with a South African's concept of his work (in order to get him to pose). As well as missing this chance to help us philistines understand his work, Tunick also comes over as selfish, rude, pushy and full of his own sense of self-importance. He insults people on the street and calls them 'rude' for walking past him as he hands out fliers (we all walk past these people everyday), he gets angry for the police for arresting him (accusing them of basically being idiots). When he is asked what makes his picture special, he replies 'because I took it'. The film only allows about three critically voices in the whole film – and all three of them are Australians who are given seconds to say a quick soundbite or two each. Contrast this with the huge amount of adoring voices surrounding him – only the head of the Russian Museum dares to question him, but even then she concedes to him. All those around him seem to hang on his every word and treat him as if he is doing the most important thing in the world. Even more insulting is how people who 'don't get it' are viewed – they are seen as idiots, the Japanese are openly attacked as being corporate drones.

Those looking for critical insight will also be disappointed because nobody dares ask anything challenging of Tunick. Where does his money come from is what I was interested to know – he flies all over the world but then ends the film complaining about not selling enough pictures. He loves the media and he acts up for the camera, seemingly overjoyed at the chance to talk one to one to the camera. This greatly weakens the film's value – if you love his work and see him as an important artist doing important things then it is likely you will enjoy this. However if you dislike him or are unsure of your stance, then this will do nothing for you – Tunick shows himself to be lacking ideas and comes across as arrogant and self-important, completely wasting the chance to just honestly and without pretension say what his work is about.

Overall this is an interesting film in terms of logistics and the chance to see unusual sight of lots of people getting naked in unusual places. However I came to it willing to be won over to Tunick's vision but only found a rather empty film that lost ant potential I thought it had. Novelty interest - yes; but artistic value or creative insight? No. (And, as an aside, what was with all the use of subtitles? The film uses subtitles for people speaking English! Understandable with one or two very thick accents but it also subtitles people in Australia and London! Did HBO an American audience would struggle with anyone not speaking with a raised inflection?!)


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