Naked artists cause stir with Zurich street performances

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Naked artists cause stir with Zurich street performances
Artist Alina Kopytsa performs during the second edition of the "Body and Freedom Festival" in Zurich. Photo: AFP

Downtown Zurich at 1pm on a bright day in late summer: bankers on lunch break, tourists, school children…and a woman stripping out of her clothes until she is naked.


Performance artist Katharina Vogel then slowly begins to move about as passers-by wonder try and work out what is going on.

That was the unusual scene confronting people on Zurich’s Rathausbrücke bridge on Thursday afternoon as Switzerland’s second-ever Body and Freedom Festival got underway.

Alina Kopytsa strips on Zurich's Rathausbrücke bridge. Photo: AFP

The art event, which runs until Sunday, features naked performances in public by 18 artists from around Europe during the day while the evenings are given over to so-called Naked Talks.

The brainchild of Biel artist Thomas Zollinger, the festival is about exploring ways the unclothed body can be used as an artistic tool in public spaces.

The naked performances, lasting up to an hour, are also designed to get people thinking about nakedness and the divide between the public and private sphere.

Artists Sascha Dickov (left) and Mischa Badasyan were among the performers on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Onlookers on Thursday were unsure what to make of the whole affair.

“I just find it barbaric. Lots of families with children cross this bridge. Kids learn what sexuality is at school. That’s why you don’t really need people walking around naked on the bridge,” a member of staff at one local fashion boutique was quoted as saying by the Blick newspaper.

Pensioner Bernhard Furrer admitted to Zurich daily Tages Anzeiger he was a fan of both art and naked skin. He had grown up a prude but his attitude had changed over time.

He said, however, the performance had been a little slow for his taste.

Lithuanian artist Orinta Pranaityte is photographed while performing in Zurich on Thursday. Photo: AFP

But two young women from the city said this slow pace was an essential part of the experience as it allowed them to really engage with what was going on.

Another 18-year-old echoed this sentiment. But she said “all the men with their cameras was kind of disgusting” – a reference to the many smartphones and other cameras being bandied about by male onlookers.

Read also: Naked performers takes to Swiss city's streets



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