Tunick in Israel for naked Dead Sea photo

The Dead Sea: Tunick's next stop

The Dead Sea: Tunick's next stop

A Jewish artist is set to realise his dream of taking thousands of unclothed people to the shore of the Dead Sea and photographing them.

Spencer Tunick, known for photographing similar groups at locations including Manchester, Sydney and the Swiss Alps, has been working towards creating the "naked sea" installation for more than a year. If all goes to plan, the photo will be taken this weekend.

Mr Tunick, whose father lives in Israel, initially wanted to shoot at the Tel Aviv Port but costs and controversy led him to the lowest point on earth.

Mr Tunick, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, asked Israelis to donate money to support the project. More than 700 people responded and raised a total of £73,000.

He has said that the project is "very special" to him. "It is one that I have dreamed of since my early days as an artist". He also said he wanted to use it to draw attention to the environmental threat of receding waters.

The exact spot and the exact size of the crowd have been kept under wraps, but models are to be bussed from other cities on Saturday evening before the shoot begins early the following morning.

It has taken Mr Tunick more than two years to reach this point, in an effort marred by condemnations from right wing MKs and religious groups in Israel.

One Shas MK compared his work to a "form of prostitution.

"What, have we gone crazy? This is artistic bestialising," said Nissim Zeev.

The project is a major publicity coup for the Dead Sea, which is in the running against the Iguacu waterfalls in South America and the Grand Canyon to be named one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature. The list will be announced on November 11.

"People think we're religious fanatics," said Ari Fruchter, Mr Tunick's friend and Israeli partner for the project.

"This is a good way to show we're like everyone else who has been photographed in Tunick's works anywhere in the world."

Last updated: 11:11am, September 15 2011