March 19, 2006

Naked Venezuelans surround Bolivar’s statue

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - More than 1,500 people
gathered around a statue of 19th century liberation hero Simon
Bolivar on Sunday and posed nude for a U.S. artist famous for
his photos of naked crowds in public spaces.

Spencer Tunick organized the Caracas photo shoot along
downtown Avenida Bolivar, a frequent spot for political rallies
by supporters of President Hugo Chavez.

Surrounded by dozens of reporters and onlookers, the
participants cracked jokes, shouted cheers for Tunick and
struck poses for the press.

"I worked very, very hard and the people were extremely,
extremely, extremely exuberant," Tunick said after the shoot.

"It's a new experience. And beyond the disinhibition of
taking off clothes, this also involves art," said Jerry Lino,
30, who took part in the event. "One never feels naked."

More than 7,800 people had signed up, but only between
1,500 and 2,000 showed up.

Bolivar looms large in the rhetoric of Chavez. The populist
president says he is leading a leftist "Bolivarian Revolution"
to end poverty in the South American nation.

Tunick has photographed nude people in New York City as
well as other urban centers around the world including London,
Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Vienna, Austria.