Photographer Spencer Tunick believes Jewish state is only Mideast country with religious freedom for one of his trademark shoots of naked volunteers
Art photographer Spencer Tunick said on Wednesday that he believes Israel is the only country in the Middle East with the religious freedom for one of his trademark mass shoots of nude volunteers.
Tunick, who creates tapestries of naked human bodies that he drapes over prominent landscapes and landmarks, was in Israel to raise money for a planned shoot on the shoreline of the Dead Sea.
“It’s very difficult to do this sort of work in this region,” said Tunick, an American, who has created his naked art installations in locations ranging from a Swiss glacier to the Sydney Opera House.
“Israel is not a theocracy, it is a democracy. We want to create a work that would probably not happen anywhere else in the Middle East,” he said.
He is looking for a minimum of 500 volunteers and already has more than 3,000 signed up.Tunick said his work showed the human body could be viewed naked without being pornographic.
“The opposite of nudity is somebody totally clothed so that you cannot see them anymore,” he said.
Nevertheless, Tunick insisted that the Dead Sea shoot was not about challenging the region’s delicate religious sensitivities or the turmoil and conflict associated with the Middle East.
Tunick said his aim is to deliver an environmental message highlighting the plight of the world’s lowest and saltiest body of water, which is rapidly drying up.
“The (human) body is vulnerable. Our bodies, which are so fragile, are driving this amazing sea to destruction,” he said.
“Hopefully my work with this will be associated with the human-made natural disaster at hand, and not with war.”
Experts have repeatedly warned that the Dead Sea could dry out by 2050 unless urgent steps are taken to halt its demise.
The surface level is plunging by a metre (three feet) each year and the shoreline has receded by more than a kilometre (just over half a mile) in places, according to some estimates.
Both Israel and Jordan are exploiting the Dead Sea tourist trade, with luxury hotels on either shore and both have also set up massive evaporation pools that harvest Dead Sea minerals.
For centuries, the sea’s delicate balance was maintained by the Jordan River, its only year-round fresh water source. But in recent decades, Israel and Jordan have been diverting its waters into irrigation projects.
Tunick is raising money to fund the “Naked Sea” project through online fundraiser Kickstarter.com. So far some $46,000 has been raised out of target of $60,000.
Organisers say if the target is not met by June 6, they will cancel the project.
If it goes ahead, the shoot will be held in September or October to boost Israel’s campaign to have the sea recognized as one of the world’s seven natural wonders in a global online vote in November, said organiser Ari Fruchter.
Tunick said that as an artist he was excited about the unique possibilities presented by the Dead Sea which could see nude volunteers bobbing on the sea or having some of them slathered in the rich, black mineral mud found along its shores.
“This is a beautiful opportunity to show off the Dead Sea and a positive image of Israel,” said local volunteer Stephanie Risa Stein who, while willing to bare her body, was more coy about her age, saying only that she was in her mid-30s.
“Being naked with my fellow citizens is a unique opportunity … but obviously I will be nervous,” she said.
Powermat, with R&D headquarters outside of Jerusalem, has pioneered the development of wireless cell phone chargers. The technology is one of the first practical applications of technology developed by Nicola Tesla over 100 years ago. Powermat teamed up with American distributors to sell several million units in 2010, and recently inked a deal with GM to install their chargers in Chevy Volts.