More than 3,000 Israelis have asked to take part in Spencer Tunick's Dead Sea shoot. But the 1,000 who have been selected may be in for a disappointment.
Head of the Tamar Regional Council announced Wednesday that he would not let the "provocative event" go through, claiming that the photo shoot had not received the required permits. Any attempt to hold the event, he warned, would prompt the council to call the police and have the crowd dispersed.
"The Dead Sea is about to be declared one of the New7Wonders of Nature," Council head Dov Litvinoff noted. "There is no doubt that a mass photo shoot of this kind, which hurts the feelings of an entire public in Israel – religious and traditional Jews – who visited and tour the area every year, will not add much to this wonder."
Spencer Tunick, 44, is one of the most famous visual artists in the world. Since 1994, he has photographed tens of thousands of people in nude photos shoots in 75 different places across the world, receiving extensive media coverage.
According to Litvinoff, however, he cannot be defined as an artist: "His art may hurt the public, so it's no longer art in my eyes, but just undressing for the sake of undressing.
"I respect freedom of expression, but not when it tramples over other people's feelings. The Dead Sea may be the lowest place on earth, but Tunick's intentions may take it to an even lower level."
Council officials clarified that they had received no request for permits and a business license, as required for an event including more than 300 people. Therefore, they said, it cannot be held as will be seen as "a mass organization endangering the public."
According to the council head, "One thousand people means dozens of buses, a suitable compound, arranged parking, toilets – this is not a simple production."
First and foremost, he said, the police must decide whether there is need for ushers and security. The Negev District Police said in response that not requests had been received for an event in the Dead Sea area and that such an appeal, if received, would be handled accordingly.
The exact location of the photo shoot, which Tunick plans to hold this Saturday despite the threats, has not been disclosed for fear that it would be thwarted by the police.
According to the American photographer's production team, organized transportation will take the participants to the secret location.
"We have acted, are acting and will act in accordance with the law, and the event will be held as planned," one of the project's representatives in Israel promised.
Mati Siver contributed to this report
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