ACT News

The National Gallery announces its first ever naked tours

You may have seen the James Turrell: A Retrospective exhibition, but has the exhibition really seen you?

The National Gallery of Australia has announced its first ever naked tours in April, as part of a collaboration with Melbourne-based artist Stuart Ringholt.

Art in the raw: Artist Stuart Ringholt leads a naked tour through the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Art in the raw: Artist Stuart Ringholt leads a naked tour through the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.  Photo: Christo Crocker

A spokeswoman for the NGA said Turrell had suggested including a naked element to the Canberra exhibition to completely remove all material barriers between artist and audience. The artist has done so before in Japan.

According to Turrell, "We drink light through the skin as Vitamin D … so we are literally light eaters. It's part of our diet".

The hour-long tours will happen outside of regular exhibition hours on April 1 and 2, with 50 participants per session.

The booties of your fellow participants won't be the only ones on display, and visitors must still put on booties in the Ganzfeld installation to protect the artwork.

Ringholt has led other nude gallery tours at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and MONA in Tasmania.

"It seems absurd to bring a bunch of beautifully-dressed people into the gallery when we can bring in a bunch of nude people," said Ringholt.

"We seem to forget the nude is really important to art history. The museum in itself is reductive – we have the idea of the white cube but why have we then reduced the viewer through their clothing?"

Ringholt will lead the group through the exhibit, and the tours will also involve a chance afterwards to have a drink or a cup of tea and discuss the experience – also completely in the buff.

"People check their clothes all together, then we all enter the gallery and there's a lot of giggling usually. What you notice is people become a lot lighter and really fun – it's a lot of fun," he said.

"I talk about all of the work and I speak as much about how fear manifests in the body, why some people can be naked in public and others can't, and how clothing can be noise."

Visitors will be able to enjoy the full exhibition, except for the Perceptual Cell which is sold out.

Ringholt said it's usually a mixed bag of people who come along to the nude tours.

"The reality is everyone looks the same at these things. We're more sexualised with our clothes on than off." 

The James Turrell: A Retrospective naked tours are open to over-18s only and are on April 1 at 5.30pm and April 2 at 7am and 7.30pm. For more information visit www.nga.gov.au/jamesturrell.

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