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Artists Use Humans As A Canvas At World Bodypainting Festival


This summer we've been taking you to some unusual festivals, the kind of events that take us away from everyday reality. Here's one from an arts festival in the heart of Europe where the artists' tools include the airbrush, and the canvas is the human body.


SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: This is the World Bodypainting Festival. I'm Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, and I'm in southern Austria in Carinthia. It's a championship that draws artists from 45 countries. It was started 19 years ago by a local by the name of Alex Barendregt.

ALEX BARENDREGT: We put here, like, 150 tents and where artists can work on their - creating an entertainment world all around the body painting.

KARA MICHELLE QUAYMAN: Kara Michelle Quayman (ph).

NELSON: Tell me about what you're creating today.

QUAYMAN: The concept is the metamorphosis of consciousness.

NELSON: Your model here is being completely decked out in white.

QUAYMAN: She's going to have kind of, like, a dead kind of skin but also will turn into nebulas like the universe.

NELSON: What's your name?

JULIA REIHUE: Julia Reihue (ph).

NELSON: Why do you want to become an art form?

REIHUE: (Laughter) I started modeling a few years ago, and then Kara put me into this whole body painting scene. And I loved it totally. I loved being part of the art and just walking around, being art.

MICHAL MCKEAN: My name is Michael McKean (ph). I sort of want to represent coming out of the Catholic closet. I'm going to illustrate some demons, and in the back, I'm illustrating Jesus. He's going to be a little different than he usually is painted. He's going to have all these colors. His blood is going to be pretty - happy Jesus.

BARENDREGT: So warm welcome to everybody here at the World Bodypainting Festival 2016. I feel very happy to have so many artists from Italy, from South Korea, from Uruguay.

NELSON: Reporting from the World Bodypainting Championships here in southern Austria, I'm NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

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