The Dead Sea, or Salty Sea, is one of the most interesting areas of our planet for several aspects. It is interesting from a geographical and morphological point of view, because it is located 430 meters below sea level and, reaching a depth of 790 meters, is to all intents and purposes the deepest and saltiest point on Earth. It is also from a political and territorial point of view since, since the United Nations Partition Plan came into force in 1947, its waters are divided between Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Finally, it is one of the most tangent examples of the consequences of climate change: the sun in the Middle East evaporates a quantity of water that can no longer be compensated by the old tributaries, causing a lowering of the water level of about one meter per year.
Poetry and history mix with the salt crystals, making this spiritual heritage a unique place for artists from around the world. It is through their works that we tell the story of an area destined to change over time.
According to photojournalist Noam Bedein, the Dead Sea is “far from dead.” Like his colleague Bronfer, he too has documented its nuances over the years. His shots seem to capture details of a distant planet, evidence of an extreme ecosystem that transforms bacteria and minerals into incredible colors, giving an evocative spectacle of mysterious shapes.
Spencer Tunick for the Dead Sea Museum
This precariousness prompted photographer Spencer Tunick just this week to return, ten years after the last time, to one of his favorite places with his “living” nude works. Like grains of salt, 300 volunteers from all over the world on Sunday participated in the shots by dipping their bodies in white paint. The performance is a moving cry and resumes the work in which the artist has immortalized 1200 people, in waters that have now disappeared: “Everything you see in my photographs of 2011 is no longer there.” The protest was a reaction to the closure of yet another beach, Mineral Beach, where the collapse of the ground prevented access. With these works, the photographer inaugurates the Dead Sea Museum foundation, the museum, currently virtual, where you can visit Spencer Tunick’s Dead Sea exhibit, including previously unseen shots, for free. The project “combines a centuries-old tradition of construction in the desert with the latest technology” explain the architects of the mueso, and aims to become a cultural center where art supports and enhances the territory.
The salt sculptures of Sigalit Landau
The delicacy of her portraits immortalizes the mirror of water and imprints it in the collective memory, like the objects of Sigalit Landau, the Israeli who sculpts with the help of the sea. Her works, suspended for months in the world’s saltiest basin, reveal its properties by covering themselves with fine salt crystals. The clothes reshaped by the sea show the contrast of a potentially destructive force, which has been healing man’s wounds since the beginning of time. Shoes and musical instruments are the precious relics of a place that speaks to us of continuous transformation. Symbolic in this sense is the artist’s Salt Stalagmite #1, a floating salt bridge that ideally unites Israel, Palestine and Jordan in the project.
The divided sea by Rayyane Tabet
According to the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, the Dead Sea is divided into three parts. The ripple effects that this decision produced on the territory become for Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet the subject of the work The Dead Sea in Three Parts. Here the depths of the sea are broken into a sculpture that represents a geography and industrial policies far removed from the beauty of the place.
The street art of Minus 430 Gallery
In 2018, a number of urban artists from around the world came together to found Minus 430 Gallery, an art site 30 minutes outside of Jerusalem. Here, street artists united in a single cause breathed new life into the former Jordanian shelter. Thanks to colorful messages, the structures abandoned for more than 40 years shine again in a tribute to the Dead Sea: a cry for help that tells of a beauty to be protected.