Hundreds to get naked in Dead Sea for Spencer Tunick photo
Jewish-American artist, famous for his installations featuring large crowds of naked people, to take group shot at the Dead Sea , 16 September.
On the evening of September 16, an undisclosed number of buses will take an undisclosed number of people to the Dead Sea, where they will prepare for a mass nude photo shoot by artist Spencer Tunick the following morning.
The Jewish American artist, famous for his installations featuring large crowds of naked people, has conducted group photo shoots of nudes at locations around the world, most of them at public sites.
The project, initiated by Ari Gottesmann and Ari Fruchter in 2009, has encountered political and financial difficulties along the way. Right wing MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi ) even called it "Sodom and Gomorrah" and an offense to public decency.
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 has now been confirmed: "Hundreds of people will take part, maybe more," Gottesmann says, although he won't say exactly how many people are involved. "We're trying to get everyone in but may not have room for everyone."
According to reports, around 3,000 people registered for the photo shoot but only 1,000 were invited to take part.
The participants will convene on a private, unnamed Dead Sea beach, where the photo shoot will begin at first light on September 17. Everyone will strip off, be photographed and then get dressed by 9 A.M.
The secrecy is required to keep people who are not part of the project out. "Only the people on the buses know where they are going. People who aren't part of the project won't get there," says Gottesmann.
The project's timing is impeccable. On November 11, the winners of the new Seven Wonders of Nature contest will be announced.
The Dead Sea is among the contestants for the title. "The photograph will be published before the end of the contest and will help us take advantage of the publicity," says Fruchter.
Hundreds of millions of viewers will see Tunick's work. A crowd of naked Israelis could change the prejudices against Israel, the organizers claim.
"People think we're religious fanatics and this is a good way to show we're like everyone else who has been photographed in Tunick's works anywhere in the world," Fruchter says.
Fruchter met Tunick 20 years ago and they have been friends since: "We both grew up in New York. He is Jewish and has relatives in Israel," Fruchter says.
On a visit to Israel four years ago, Tunick saw the Dead Sea's condition and decided it was time to do something to help Israel.
"He is not a commercial artist, but wants to do projects that help the environment," says Gottesmann. Fruchter took Tunick up on his suggestion. "I knew it would be difficult, I took the project on because he's an amazing artist," he says. Gottesmann joined two years later.
They are assisted by producer Elinor Lechtman, who took a year's leave from her work as a programmer in Intel, and Shlomit Ezron-Yarkoni of BenOr Communications, who helped mostly with fund-raising on the Kickstarter website, where they raised over $116,000.
Fruchter and Gottesmann will not appear in the photograph. "I have no problem going around naked, but someone must be with the walkie-talkie to make sure everything is alright," says Gottesmann.
"I've never had the guts to undress," says Fruchter. "This time I told Spencer I was ready, but he won't let me. He said he wants me by his side. Now of all times I'd like to be one of the people. I want to get naked like everyone."