Spencer Tunick Plans Naked Installation at Israel’s Dead Sea

Spencer Tunick Artwork
Artist Spencer Tunick stands on a gantry to photograph naked, body painted festival goers at the Big Chill in Herefordshire, U.K., on Aug. 8, 2010. Photograph: Idea Generation via Bloomberg News

Spencer Tunick, the artist known for gathering together hundreds of naked volunteers, is planning his next project at the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea in Israel. He is using the Internet to raise money for it.

The Dead Sea, popular for the restorative powers of its mud baths and mineral waters, is shrinking more than three feet (a meter) a year, marine experts said. The drop is caused by the diversion of agricultural and drinking water and dry winters.

U.S.-born Tunick, 44, has photographed large groups of naked people at the Big Chill Festival in the U.K., and cities including London, Amsterdam, Sydney and Buenos Aires.

“This project is dear to me, one that I have dreamed of since my early days as an artist,” Tunick said in an e-mailed statement seeking backers. “I look forward to your support in exposing a part of Israel that hasn’t been seen before and at the same time bring attention to the deteriorating situation of the Dead Sea.”

Tunick’s Israeli partner, Avi Fruchter, initially wasn’t sure that Israelis were “ready to get naked for art.” He reconsidered when university students started a campaign that has enlisted thousands of volunteers.

“My second challenge was to get financial support from local government, institutions and sponsors,” Fruchter said in the statement. “Due to the nature of this art in this region of the world -- this has proven to be most challenging.”

After what Fruchter said was years of great effort, he decided to begin an Internet fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $60,000 for the project by June 6. The site, started on April 26, today showed it has raised $963 from 11 backers.

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