Greenpeace Glacier Nudes

Greenpeace Switzerland raised awareness of the impact of climate change in 2007 with an award winning photo shoot on Altetsch Glacier. US installalation artist Spencer Tunick was recruited to photograph nearly 600 people removing their clothes and standing as naked testimony on the slopes of the glacier.

Greenpeace Aletsch Glacier photo shoot by Spencer Tunick

Spencer Tunick appears on a “behind the scenes” video, directing the crowd of volunteers as they pose on rocky outcrop, on the glacier, and finally lying down.

The August 18 photo shoot by New York artist Spencer Tunick, famous for his pictures of nude gatherings in public settings worldwide, was designed to draw attention to the effects of global warming on Switzerland’s shrinking glaciers.

“The melting of the glaciers is an indisputable sign of global climate change,” said environmental group Greenpeace, which co-organised the event. It said most Swiss glaciers would disappear by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace. The organisers said they wanted to demonstrate a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body.

The event, which followed Tunick’s nude photograhy shoots in London, Mexico City and Amsterdam, was designed to minimise any impact on the environment, Greenpeace said. The participants walked about four hours to reach the site of the shoot. Temperatures hovered around ten degrees Celsius while the photos were being taken, but nobody spent much time with their clothes off. A first picture was taken with 300 volunteers standing beside the glacier, before 600 people moved for another shot onto the ice itself.

Greenpeace Aletsch Glacier photo shoot by Spencer Tunick
Greenpeace Aletsch Glacier photo shoot by Spencer Tunick
Greenpeace Aletsch Glacier photo shoot by Spencer Tunick
Greenpeace Aletsch Glacier photo shoot by Spencer Tunick

“I always feel that the body is a constant medium, and creates a new dialogue for the background,” Spencer Tunick told environmental news site Edie. “In this case, the vulnerability of the body coincided with the vulnerability of the glacier. The glacier looks strong, but it’s not… it’s just as vulnerable.”

The promotion caused an enomous echo – not only in articles in the international press but especially on the internet. After the launch in 2007 the Greenpeace site broke down due to the large number of page hits.


The Glacier Art campaign was developed at Greenpeace Switzerland by campaign director Markus Allemann. The PR campaign was developed at Euro RSCG Zurich Switzerland, Zurich, by executive creative director Frank Bodin, crative directors Juerg Aemmer and Claude Catsky, art director Charles Blunier, graphic designer Régine Cavicchioli and Barney Rees, strategist Peter Schaefer, account director Sebastian Zeuner.

Music in the video is by Stimmhorn.

The campaign won a Silver for Sales Promotion at Eurobest 2008 and the Grand Trophy at the AME Awards 2008.

See all four of the photographs online at Artnet.

Filed under: Environment, Photography, Print