Thousands flock to Sydney Opera House to pose for nude photograph

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Sydney, Mar 1 (ANI): Sydney Opera House steps saw more than 5000 people come together to pose nude for artist Spencer Tunick.

The photoshoot, which is Tunick's latest installation, 'Mardi Gras: The Base', took place just after dawn on March 1.

Mardi Gras festival executive producer Danielle Harvey said 5200 people - including sportspeople, doctors, teachers and retirees - had lined up to take part.

"We were expecting 2000 or so ... we're absolutely thrilled," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Harvey as saying.

Tan lines were the most prominent feature of the Australian line-up, which whooped and cheered its way onto the Opera House forecourt in lines in cool, cloudy conditions.

Student Art Rush, 19, said he was thrilled to be there.

"I'll never get a chance to do this again. It's not worth being inhibited," he said.

"It doesn't feel sexual, it just feels tribal - a gathering of humanity. I thought it would be all old people and nudists, but everyone here is great," he stated.

Advertising creative director Adam Sutherland, 46, said he had not yet decided whether to tell his employees, while nurse Nerida Grant, 27, said she wouldn't miss it for anything.

"I love Tunick's art work, it's fun," she said.

English traveller Laura Higman, 31, roped in her partner Greg Patterson and friend Libby Morrish for the shoot.

"It was a really good experience," she said.

"We weren't quite expecting the 'embrace' part but it was good. It's not every day you get to be naked on the steps of the Opera House," she added.

The artist asked his subjects to pose with their hands by their sides, up high above their heads, and even asked all couples in the crowd to embrace, before moving everyone inside to pose in the theatre.

This is Tunick's second shoot in Australia after staging an installation in Melbourne's Alexandra Gardens in 2001.

He has also photographed groups in New Mexico in the US, as well in Brazil, France, England and Austria.

The artist said the title of the installation, 'Mardi Gras: The Base', referred to the sameness of individuals, regardless of their sexual preferences.

"Gay men and women lay naked next to their straight neighbours and this delivered a very strong message to the world that Australians embrace a free and equal society," he said.

Tunick said he was delighted to be able to assemble the installation at the base of "one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the world".

He said the crowd warmed up as the shoot progressed.

"It was difficult to get the straight people to embrace the gay participants ... I was happy we got it in the second set-up," Tunick revealed.

The work was commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. (ANI)

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