During the first week in July, from the 2nd until the 8th, artists from more than 40 countries around the world descended upon Poertschach, Austria, a town on the shores of the large lake, Woerther See. The event, the World Body Painting Festival, just celebrated its 15th year. It isn't just a bunch of hippy artists painting naked bodies, it is the largest and most important competition of its kind in the world.
It's really nothing new that artists use the human body as a canvas. The practice has been common for centuries by cultures as a way to express individualism and spirituality. But the practice of painting an entire body as a walking work of art is not as common, although some people have bodies heavily covered in permanent tattoos.
This year's entries included colorful imps reminiscent of childhood fantasies, Hollywood incarnations of movies like Avatar, and artists that specialize in UV paint, which glows vibrantly under blue lights.
The male and female models all stood patiently while their bodies were painted in magnificent colors. Both genders wore only skimpy undergarments, their upper bodies completely covered in creative designs. It was a celebration of the human body in a completely nonsexual way, and with many of the designs, you nearly forget that beneath the paint lies a living, breathing human.
The festival included awards for best model, best artist and a Body Circus in the town's Leonstain Castle, which was built in 1492 and sits in the middle of the town. Event organizers transform the castle into a radiant playground evocative of fairy tales and the metaphysical.
The skill required for the artists to create these dramatic and incredible could rival those of Hollywood professionals and is a way for budding artists to showcase their work. Not only do the models get their bodies painted, but they also have their faces transformed into animalistic renditions.
The body painting photos at this link are slightly provocative and may not be safe for work, but they might inspire you to visit Austria next time this year to take in the lovely sights around the port town.
Â©2012 Reno Berkeley for Gather News.
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