Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1200 Israelis Pose Nude at Dead Sea on Shabbat for Art and Conservation

Spencer Tunick, the photographer who has made a name for himself by photographing large numbers of nude men and women at photogenic locations around the world, invited hundreds of Israelis and tourists to take off all their clothes and pose in the nude at the Dead Sea last Shabbat for his "Naked Sea" project. About 1,200 between the ages of 18 and 77 participated in the event.

Most of the nude participants were men, and a separate photo shoot was arranged for women, mostly covered with Dead Sea mud. It's not clear if this was for artistic reasons or because of protests from religious members of the Knesset. Right wing MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ) even called it "Sodom and Gomorrah" and an offense to public decency.

Tunick has been doing his nude photography shtick for years and explains that he's doing it for the artistic value but also to promote social causes. In the case of Israel and the Dead Sea, he says that he's trying to raise awareness for the disappearing body of water and the need to preserve it.

As Roni Levin reported in Haaretz,
The quiet of the photo shoot was interrupted by Peeping Toms who hovered above the models in powered parachutes. Some of them were equipped with large photographic lenses, which was against all preceding promises and customary rules. In addition, some of the photographers who came to document the event broke the rules and used larger lenses than were allowed. 
After two years of raising funds and sponsorships, with great difficulty, a major donor canceled his contribution at the last moment, putting the entire project at risk. "It's nerve-racking," admits Gottesmann. "It won't stop us, but it was a major setback at this advanced stage."
Despite all the obstacles, the project was confirmed and went ahead.
Here's a video of one of many TV reports of the event. Enjoy!

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