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The Schmooze

Knesset Member Resists Planned Naked Dead Sea Shoot

A conservative Knesset member is attacking the “culture of Sodom and Gomorrah” that might bring thousands of naked Israelis to the shores of the Dead Sea.

Zevulun Orlev, a member of the religious HaBayit HaYehudi party, has asked Israeli legal authorities to prevent a planned photo shoot by Spencer Tunick, an American artist who has, according to his Web site, “been documenting the live nude figure in public” since 1992. Tunick, who has staged similar mass-nudity “installations” across Europe, the United States and South America, hopes to carry out his Dead Sea photo shoot later this year, having already raised funds in excess of his $60,000 budget.

Orlev, a former minister of welfare and social services, has objected to the project, calling it a “harmful and shameful production” that violates Israeli laws on public decency. The legislator’s opposition is unlikely to halt Tunick’s plans; the photographer has already gone to court in other countries, including the United States, to defend his art on grounds of free speech, among other legal tactics.

Tunick’s photo shoot already has a Tel Aviv-based “curator,” Ari Fruchter, who in a promotional video says the project would draw attention to environmental issues at the Dead Sea, as well as social issues. Already dubbed “Naked Sea,” the project appears to be Tunick’s first in the Middle East.

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