Swiss town to host nude performance art street festival

Alina Kopytsa, Elias Kirsche, "Art Walk with Nude Accent," 2014

Biel, Switzerland is getting ready to welcome the Body and Freedom Festival next month, when for two days nude performers will present public art pieces in the city's streets.

Thomas Zollinger, a Swiss artist who lives and works in Biel and Zurich, is behind the first-time festival, having previously presented nude art events in urban areas including Biel, Zurich and Zagreb.

Zollinger was able to make Biel the site of the Body and Freedom Festival after a five-year dialogue with the city that he describes as "not entirely conflict free" on the festival's website.

Why naked art? Zollinger points out the fairly commonplace nature of the naked body in art galleries and even on stage, while saying that in public spaces, it still remains taboo. The festival will attempt to pave the way toward a change: by exploring the possibilities of the naked body in urban space and everyday life, the event hopes to contribute "to its establishment in this context as an instrument of art expression."

As such, pedestrian circulation, the surrounding architecture, and the ground surface will all be integrated into the performances, most of which will last from three to 15 minutes and be repeated, with the exception of a few longer-duration works.

The event will feature 18 projects from various countries, with about half coming from Swiss artists, all performed in the city center on August 21 from 1-7pm and August 22 from 11-5pm.

As pointed out by Hyperallergic, the festival has a crowd-funding element: it is asking for donations via Wemakeit to cover some expenses, with a few participatory perks offered with donations, such as the chance to take part in the performance of one's choice, or "Naked Audience," which involves sitting nude in a chair and watching passers-by.

Find out more about the Body and Freedom Festival, including programs for both days (performance areas and artists are indicated, but the nature of the pieces is not), at bodyandfreedom.com.