We created an event called “The American Body Arts Festival” held in the summer of 2006 at the Brushwood Folklore Center near Sherman NY to host our Guinness World Record. We hit 337. We’ve got video of it and anyone that was part of it will vouch that we hit that number. Unfortunately, Guinness did not accept it. At the time I was crushed and I could not figure out why they would not have accepted our record attempt. After all, I sent them a very detailed package with hundreds of photos detailing every step of the process. Later I learned that Guinness has to validate over 60,000 record attempts every year. That’s a huge workload every day, When I discovered this, I thought that perhaps I had been TOO thorough. They probably just glanced at my submission. Instead of hundreds of photos, I should have sent 3-4 of the final result. I’ll bet they never bothered to watch the video, especially not to the end numbers! The case worker at Guinness that reviewed our paperwork wrote us a letter citing “lack of artistic merit” (OUCH) as the reason for their denial. (she must have just looked at the first of my many pictures showing as-yet only partially painted people) She recommended that I look up bodypainting online to see examples of professional work on Wikipedia. At that time Wikipedia listed “The American Body Arts Festival” along with “The World Bodypainting Festival” as the major bodypainting events. How’s that for Irony!
We resolved to try again. In 2007 we had the event again and it rained for five days straight. Then, on the Saturday we had slated to be our record-breaking day it cleared but it was still quite cool. We had less participation than the year before but we did manage to break the existing record— by ten people. Our total was 264.
Both years we made art out of the hundreds of painted people which we photographed from above (the first year we had a helicopter!). 2006 featured “The Living Mandala”, and 2007 was “The Peacock”. Also “The American Body Arts Festival” was successful too. Of singular note was a huge circular screen we built that was elevated about four stories into the air. The substrate was a clear plastic upon which was projected bodypainting images (contemporary and historical) and videos. Images were visible from both sides and it lit up the night like a beacon. It could be seen clearly for miles, even in the rain. We had enough images collected to project them in a sequence of two-seconds per image for five hours without repeating.
Thanks again to everyone involved for helping with such a monumental undertaking!!