Naked crowds artist hits Dead Sea cash drought

Wed May 11, 2011 5:09pm EDT
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By Douglas Hamilton

TEL AVIV (Reuters Life!) - Naked crowds in public places have made American photographer Spencer Tunick world famous, but his plan for an installation featuring hundreds of nude Israelis floating in the Dead Sea has hit money problems.

His photographs of hundreds of naked men and women of "all religions, shapes and sizes" in locations such as the Sydney Opera House and Switzerland's Aletsch Glacier have won critical acclaim and attracted fans worldwide.

"It's very insignificant money," the artist told a Tel Aviv news conference. "But it's the naked body in a public space," he said, hinting at disapproval of his art in the Jewish state.

Tunick and his eight assistants need $60,000 to pay the logistics costs of an installation and photo shoot in September or October at the lowest point on Earth, where the Dead Sea is drying up at the rate of one meter (three feet) a year.

The artist, who is Jewish, has not yet decided what his Dead Sea installation will feature. He would like to show his nude multitude floating in the extreme buoyancy of the ultra-saline water, and covered in its famous health-giving black mud.

But a year of fund-raising by Tunick's friend and Israel-based associate Ari Fruchter, together with the Tel Aviv consultancy Ben Or, has managed to raise only $45,000.

With 25 days to go to their deadline, the team are calling for donations on Tunick's site (

Neither Tunick nor his Israeli associates were able to explain why it was so hard to raise the money.   Continued...

<p>A tourist reads a newspaper as he floats in the Dead Sea resort of Ein Gedi May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Baz Ratner</p>