Photographer of mass nude scenes may scrap TA visit

‘Yediot’ story may foil mass nudity photographer’s visit; Orbach: Drop idea so Jewish state won’t be caught with its pants down.

By DOV PREMINGER
March 9, 2010 05:22
3 minute read.
Tunick's last work, near the Sydney Opera (AP).

naked aussies 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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A premature headline exposing photographer Spencer Tunick’s plans may end up changing them.

Yediot Aharonot reported Monday morning that Tunick, an American famous for photographing masses of nude volunteers at sites around the world, was considering Tel Aviv or the Dead Sea for one of his next projects.

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But Tunick’s producer in Israel, Harry Fruchter, was upset to find that his client’s possible visit had been covered in the morning news.

“The April 18 date was not correct,” said Fruchter, referring to the reported date on which Tunick planned to tour possible sites in Tel Aviv.

“The dates were never confirmed. He doesn’t have any airline tickets or anything. [I’m] not sure when and if he’s coming.”

Fruchter said the publicity “will make [Tunick] less likely to come here. He has not decided on a site yet, but when there’s a lot of press coverage he is less likely to come somewhere.

“He’d like to work without any outside influences. If he can’t find that kind of situation, when he comes he will probably be less cooperative.”

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Fruchter said Tel Aviv is just one of many cities Tunick is considering for his next project. Other reports have put his next shoot in Salford, England.

Tunick’s most recent pictures featured 5,200 nude Australians at the Sydney Opera House. He has organized over 75 locations for his nude photographs, some with upwards of 10,000 volunteers. His 2007 installation in Mexico City featured over 18,000 nude people.

Both the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Tourism Ministry were excited at the prospect of Tunick working in Tel Aviv.

“I thought it a good idea for the image of Israel and Tel Aviv. It would contribute to a more cosmopolitan image of the city, which is our target,” said Tel Aviv municipal spokesman Hillel Fertouk.

Asked whether he thought enough Israelis would be willing to pose, Fertouk replied: “That is the million-dollar question. We will call the Israelis to build this photograph, and I hope they will come.”

Amnon Lieberman, communications adviser to Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, shared Fertouk’s sentiments.

“It’s a huge opportunity to improve the image of Israel as a modern country,” he said. “Tel Aviv is the perfect place to make it happen.”

“The tourism minister’s vision is to change the country’s image to something more modern. He sees the advantage of having someone like Tunick [work in Israel]. It is a great honor to have an artist like Tunick initiate a project in Tel Aviv – it puts Tel Aviv on a very distinguished list of cities that have hosted him,” he added.

When asked whether enough people would turn out for the photograph, Lieberman replied, “we’ll see. We can only give it a chance and see what happens.”

On his Web site, Spencer Tunick explains his work:

“The individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance. These grouped masses which do not underscore sexuality become abstractions that challenge or reconfigure one’s views of nudity and privacy. The work also refers to the complex issue of presenting art in permanent or temporary public spaces.”

Orthodox politicians criticized the Tourism Ministry and the Tel Aviv municipality for inviting Tunick. They said his work was not fit for the Jewish state and that mass photos of nude Jews would be too reminiscent of imagery from the Holocaust.

A source close to Interior Minister Eli Yishai said was checking to see whether he could block the photographer from entering the country.

“We have to distance ourselves from filth and everything close to it,” said United Torah Judaism faction chairman Menahem Eliezer Moses.

Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach called the photographs vulgar.

“I recommend that the tourism minister drop the idea so the Jewish state will not be caught with its pants down,” Orbach said. “Avigdor Lieberman always says we live in the Garden of Eden but nowadays, cultured people wear clothes.”

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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