September 18, 2011, Updated September 11, 2012

Some 1,000 Israelis took part in American photographer Spencer Tunick’s mass nude photo shoot at the Dead Sea over the weekend.

Naked Dead Sea photo shoot

Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90
Israelis strip naked for a group photograph by Spencer Tunick at the Dead Sea

Tunick – who is famous for his naked group photos in public places around the world — praised Israel as the only country in the Middle East with the freedom for one of his art photography projects.

“This could happen nowhere else in the Middle East,” he said at the event. “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.”

Tunick chose to create his first Israeli installment at the Dead Sea both for environmental and tourism reasons.

He hoped his hyped photo shoot would highlight the plight of the world’s lowest body of water and at the same time boost Israel’s campaign to have the Dead Sea voted in as one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature.

Experts say the Dead Sea could dry out by 2050 unless urgent steps are taken.

“Our bodies, which are so fragile, are causing this amazing, natural sea to disappear. We’re just flesh and skin but we can make massive environments of concrete and massive structures and at the same time we can cause nature to disappear,” Tunick told ISRAEL21c during a visit earlier this year to promote his photo shoot. “My work will be more connected to the human natural disaster at hand.”

Tunick used three backdrops of the area for his visual pursuit: the Dead Sea, the shore, and Dead Sea mud. Those taking part ranged in age from 18 to 77, and included an equal number of men and women.

Threats by religious politicians to call off the photo shoot caused obstacles for the organizers but did not cancel the event.

Organizers even kept the location of the shoot under wraps until the last minute so as to avoid protests, but Peeping Toms got the better of them and flew para-motoring parachutes over the area.

Today’s local newspapers were packed with positive feedback from those who took part. Wrote a Ha’aretz reporter who stripped down for the photo shoot: “If anyone asks you if you would like to undress in front of 1,000 other people, say yes. Things like this just don’t happen every day.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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