Words by Jasmine Crowhurst, News sub-editor
The statement was a photoshoot that involved 300 people stripped naked – covering themselves only in white body paint – to pose together in the South Israel desert near the Dead Sea.
The art installation was organised by American photographer Spencer Tunick and aims to raise awareness of the Dead Sea’s shrinking sea levels.
The 54-year-old artist has photographed the body of water twice before – each time using nude art installations to portray the sea’s “ecological disaster”. The Dead Sea marks the lowest land-based point on Earth and is often treasured for its mineral-rich water. The salty lake’s water levels are declining by approximately one meter per year, seemingly due to a fight for water resources on account of the region’s arid climate. Over the past four decades, over 6,000 gaping sinkholes have appeared along the Israeli side of the Dead Sea, making areas around the coast too dangerous to visit.
“By connecting an environmental issue to the body, [it] shows the vulnerability of the body up against nature — and also, in juxtaposition, the vulnerability of nature that’s caused by the body,” Tunick said, on CNN. “Mankind can affect a massive sea. And I think that showing this juxtaposition of the body – very fragile – against the Dead Sea, which is equally fragile, will bring a new energy to the work and people’s conversations.”
The fight over limited water sources in the area is thought to be the cause of the areas receding water levels. Tunick visited the area 10 years ago, where in order to raise awareness of the same issue, he photographed nude people floating in the sea.
The photoshoot was met with mixed opinions from local politicians. Some encouraged it in the hopes of bringing in more tourists and highlighting the environmental issues in the area. Others called the photoshoot an ‘abomination’ and tried to stop it from happening. Despite mixed opinions, the photoshoot serves its purpose: to showcase one of the world’s landmarks slipping away.