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Euro 2008: Vienna Strips for Spencer Tunick

With just weeks to go before Austria and Switzerland host the Euro 2008 soccer tournament, American artist Spencer Tunick organizes a crowd of nearly 2,000 models to pose nude in the Austrian capital Vienna for his latest artwork.

Just weeks before the launch of the European Championship football tournament, about 1,800 volunteers gathered at Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium on Sunday to shed their clothing for American photographer Spencer Tunick.

"It will be fun. Austria is very conservative. This might bring more openness," said Michael, a 20-year-old Austrian who drove for two hours to take part.

Speaking over a public address system, Tunick directed his volunteer models, telling them to spread across different areas of the stands and pose in a number of positions. The only rules: they couldn't bring any clothing or "utensils" with them -- no sunglasses, no lingerie -- they couldn't touch the playing field and they weren't to move or laugh during the shoot.

"This very special ephemeral installation that we are inviting you to be part of is devised to capture and combine the spirit of sports, the grand sweeping waves of stadium architecture and the abstract relation of the human form to modern structures," Tunick said on his Web site.

The stadium will play host to seven European Championship games, including the final. The tournament kicks off on June 7 in Basel, Switzerland. And on Sunday, Tunick also had an artistic tie in to the games: He had nude models posé with 1,000 soccer balls. Tunick's performance took place as part of the European Championship cultural program.

The photos taken by Tunick on Sunday will be put on display in a public space at Vienna's Kunsthalle on June 23.

Tunick is world-famous for his photos of large masses of nude people. One year ago he set a new world record by getting 20,000 Mexicans to pose naked in Mexico City. In August, 600 people posed nude for Tunick on Switzerland's Aletsch glacier to help draw attention to the problem of global warming.

dsl/ap/reuters

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