The sun rises Sunday morning over the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, 100 women stand completely nude, holding large, round mirrors facing the arena. They’re on an empty lot in between a fire station and a shipping warehouse, right on the Cuyahoga River. It’s the day before the Republican National Convention kicks off, but on this side of the river, it’s nearly silent, except for the snaps and pops of a camera and a hundreds of men thanking God for Donald Trump protesters.
Artist Spencer Tunick stands on a ladder holding the camera focused on the women, wiping sweat off his brow and trying not to let make it to obvious that the front of his pants are about to break the zipper. He shouts, “We love you all! This is beautiful,” as he takes photos for his art installation, “Everything She Says Means Everything.”
Off to the side, more women stand wrapped in sheets and towels shifting from foot to foot and rubbing their hands together, surrounded by piles of bras, thongs, panties, T-shirts, shorts, and sundresses. Since Tunick put out his casting call for the event in May, 1,800 women signed up to participate.
Women of all different ages, shapes and races came from as far away as Belgium and as close as down the street. Some are here to send a message to Donald Trump and others just wanted to take the opportunity to proudly show their breasts and asses publicly.
“This is for you and this is for our future,” Tunick tells the women. “We will shine your light and power onto the RNC. We’re going to shine the light of women into this arena.”
The morning started at 5:15 a.m. with Tunick and his wife, Kristin, packing up a van to head to the secret location. In spite of the press swirling around the event, they managed to keep the time and location secret. He emailed the address—a private piece of land, which he had permission to use—to 200 women on Friday, hoping that 100 would show up. In spite of the precautions, Tunick anxiously discusses the possibility of Secret Service helicopters flying overhead or cops showing up.
But Tunick is prepared: He’s been arrested five times while attempting to work outdoors in New York. “It would just be me they’d arrest—not the women—and Kristin knows what to do if that happens,” he says as he packs up the car. He’s written on his hand in black marker the mantra, “Calm, Focus, Tight.”
“This reminds me of the old days when it used to just be you and me doing these in New York,” Kristin says to her husband on the ride over. They’ve been organizing nude art installations since 1994; Tunick has been planning this particular one for three years.
Kristin usually stays in New York with their two daughters while Tunick does shoots around the world—he just got back from one in Hull, U.K. involving 3,000 people painted blue. But she says: “I had to be at this one. This one is important. I felt like I had to do something, as an artist and a woman. This is the first time I’ve felt so called to action.”
We all walked around naked before Satan made us realize it and feel shame. I think these women are beautiful and I laud them for their guts to show off what God gave them with pride. I wish more women were like them.