Tayla Coucaud in The Australian, 11 October 2023
A New York-based artist has put out a call to thousands of Queenslanders to strip down and possibly enter the Brisbane city river for a series of nude images. American photographer Spencer Tunick will be collaborating with Brisbane Powerhouse to stage a series of nude photographs along Brisbane River later in November.
Tunick has previously asked Australians to take of their clothes on several different occasions, taking his nude campaigns across the country to photograph at tourist destinations and more recently in a skin cancer awareness campaign at Bondi Beach last year.
Brisbane Powerhouse, the art and culture hub just outside the CBD that holds more than 1000 performances and events each year, is currently scouting for volunteers to pose in a series of nude photos along the riverbank as part of the LGBTQIA+ festival Melt in November.
The upcoming photographic series, titled “TIDE”, is said to celebrate diversity, equality and inclusion with the backdrop being the Brisbane River.
Tony McAlister, director of Water Technology, said his biggest concern for people entering Brisbane River would be bull sharks, which are commonly found in Queensland’s southeast waterways and swim as far up the Brisbane River as Ipswich, with a local resident in a riverside apartment capturing 20 bull sharks in the waterways earlier this year.
“The last recorded fatality was many years (even decades) ago, but there are many sightings, and this risk should not be discounted, especially given water clarity issues,” Mr McAlister said.
He said there were also strong tidal currents in the river, and depending on the state of the tide, these could be a risk. “If contact is proposed near the Powerhouse, which is on the inside of the river bend, these risks are lower but not negligible,” he said.
Surf Life Saving Queensland had previously advised against swimming in the Brisbane River because of hidden dangers, with 16 drownings recorded in the city river since 2017.
Brisbane Powerhouse chief executive Kate Gould said she could not confirm whether anyone would be going into the Brisbane River for the photo shoot but she “does not expect anyone to enter” the water.Ms Gould said she could not disclose the location of where the staging would happen but a full risk assessment would be done prior to the shoot.
A Queensland police spokeswoman said exhibitors had sought approval for the photo shoot at the river hub. “The event is artistic in nature and in compliance with section 21 of the Human Rights Act relating to freedom of expression,” she said.