World Bodypainting Festival
Photograph courtesy of World Bodypainting Festival
World Bodypainting Festival
Words by Dominique E Feblowitz
Colors fly in a weeklong event known as the Mecca for body painting. A quaint Austrian town plays host as artists from around the world come to feast their eyes on the wonders of nature and all who are naturally painted.
The picturesque village of Seeboden provides an idyllic setting for the World Body Painting Festival. Thousands travel here to welcome this innovation in art. Of course, not all art hangs on the wall. Posing as a unique canvas, the models transform into living breathing works of art.
The human body has served as a unique canvas by people all over the world, since the beginning of man. From make up to tattoos, every culture in history has painted and adorned themselves in celebration. Body painting combines the art of painting and the individual form.
The World Body Painting festival draws a crowd of 15,000 spectators, 250 models and more than 150 artisans each expressing their individual creativity. Award-winning artists from around the globe gather to compete for the title of World Champion Bodypainter.
Lake Millstatt provides the scenic European backdrop for the eccentric models during the five-day contest. With each year comes a new theme, this year's; myths and fairytales and water. The models are painted to match the theme both erotically and aesthetically. Watching paint dry takes on new meaning as we observe the various methods of painting. Three categories will be rewarded: brush/sponge, airbrush, and special effects. Creating living breathing art takes patience and skilled concentration. At the end of each day the painted models stroll down a catwalk amidst hungry photographers clamoring for the best snapshot. There is big money at stake for the top three photos and prestige for the award-winning artists.
We meet Alex Barendregt, who in 1998, organized the first bodypainting festival to bring tourism back to his small village. We talk with Bernd Rantscheff, an award-winning artist by way of Star Trek and the Grinch movies. A native Austrian, Bernd will sit on the judging panel. Through his eyes, we'll see what it's like to critique the vibrant performances. Bernd will share his thoughts on the event and explain how body paint and special effects have changed over the years. During the week we'll meet several artists from various countries who have learned to earn a living creating body art.
We meet the mayor, or Burgermeister, of the town as he explains this new Austrian tradition. We follow several artists through three days of competition as they battle for the chance to become the World Body Painting Champion. The first day is nerve-wracking for the artists as they race with the clock to complete their paintings. Clouds form over the second day's events and Alex, the coordinator wonders if the event will be a total wash. The third day shines a light on the winners of the competition. The judging is tough as the performances are brilliant. The announcer declares the winner of this year's Body Painting Champion. The crowd of 15,000 goes crazy, as the Champion is crowned and the fireworks show begins.
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