Nude crowds photographer in Dead Sea cash drought
TEL AVIV |
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - The U.S. artist famed for photographing crowds of naked people at global landmarks has hit a snag in his plans to snap a picture of hordes of nude volunteers floating in the Dead Sea.
Spencer Tunick, who has photographed hundreds of people in the buff in front of the Sydney Opera House and in Mexico City's Zocalo Square to name just two, says he is short the $60,000 he needs for a picture of naked people floating in one of the world's saltiest seas.
"It's very insignificant money," the artist told a Tel Aviv news conference. "But it's the naked body in a public space."
Tunick said the money is needed to meet the logistical costs of setting up the photo shoot in September or October at the lowest point on Earth, where the Dead Sea is drying up at the rate of one metre (yard) a year.
The artist has not yet decided what the installation will feature. He would like to float his nude multitude in the extreme buoyancy of the Dead Sea's ultra-saline waters 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 kickstarter.com site (www.kck.st/).
Neither Tunick nor his Israeli associates were able to explain why it was so hard to raise the money.
"You just don't get a clear answer," Fruchter said.
But on the bright side, he said some 700 students signed up to "get naked in order to participate" and a further 2,000 people of all ages had expressed interest in joining what Tunick calls a unique form of performance art.
Tunick, a frequent visitor to Israel, wants to juxtapose the vulnerability of the naked body with the man-made environmental damage being inflicted on the Dead Sea, whose Jordan River water source has been diverted for agri-business.
The aim is to shoot the installation before November, when people all over the planet will be able to vote by internet to choose the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Dead Sea is on the short-list.
Tunick acknowledges that combining nakedness, vulnerability and Jewishness could raise bad memories for those who may inevitably associate it with images taken from Nazi Holocaust death camps.
But with the naked bodies in his work, he said, "you know they're alive and they can walk away."
(Writing by Douglas Hamilton, editing by Paul Casciato)
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