Photographer Spencer Tunick – who has found fame for his nude group shots in famous global landmarks – has undertaken one of his most ambitious projects yet, photographing a gathering of 1,000 naked volunteers at the Dead Sea as part of a project to get the landmark phenomena recognised as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.
The Jewish American snapper, 44, chose the location to also highlight the plight of the sea – the world’s lowest and saltiest stretch of water – which is currently seeing its levels fall by around 4ft per year, and which it is feared could dry up by 2050.
It follows in the footsteps of other shoots that Tunick has done at landmark locations, which have included Sydney Opera House, Grand Central Station in New York and upscale London department store Selfridges.
The shoot, on Saturday, attracted some controversy, with local authorities attempting to stop it from taking palce.
Dov Litvinoff from the Tamar Regional Council said: “There is no doubt that a mass photo shoot of this kind, which hurts the feelings of an entire public in Israel – religious and traditional Jews – who visited and tour the area every year, will not add much to this wonder.”
Tunick, however, spoke out in praise of Israel for being one of the few Middle Eastern countries which offered the freedom for one of his trademark shoots.
“In some places the work is a little bit more controversial, and then in other places the works are accepted as a litmus test for how free a country is, or how open a country is, and how full of rights a country is,” he said of past efforts.
He added that he had deliberately chosen to have the photoshoot on Shabbat: “so no-one would be walking by and see a naked person half a mile away and be offended.”
The photographer also spoke out in praise of his volunteers, some of whom had flown to Israel especially to take part.
“This could happen nowhere else in the Middle East,” he said afterwards. “If you love freedom in New York, freedom in London, freedom in Italy… there’s freedom in Israel, and I think this is very important for people to understand.”
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