Jerusalem Show II
Walks in the City
Taking cue from the way that visitors to last year’s show walked around the city to see the artworks as well as partake in the guided tours I led, this year’s guiding concept is a free, casual stroll in the city, or simply “a walk in the city”. In response to the concept of “walks in the city,” and among the 26 artists participating in this year’s show several have produced pieces that require visitors to meander through the city in search for their work. Nida Sinnokrot’s Untitled Transponders (Jerusalem) called for a dedicated amount of time in search for the tiny blue lights emanating from cracks in walls. Emily Jacir’s piece Untitled (servees) takes us on a walk down memory lane, to the heydays when one would be able to hop on a shared taxi in Damascus Gate and for one or two Jordanian Dinars would share a ride to Amman, Damascus or Beirut. Her sound piece could only be heard during the day, amongst the hustle and bustle of the peddlers’ market outside the Damascus Gate. In a completely different atmosphere Jawad Al-Malhi’s appropriately titled piece Na’eimen (a blessing) – which is also a flashback to the days when the Hammam offered its services to the city and its visitors – is located in the serene and meditative quiet of the Mamluk Hammam. Other artists have interpreted the idea of “Walks in the City” more conceptually; hence Jumana Manna’s video Pilgrimage to Nowhere at the Padico Services Co. building in Haret Al-Sa’adiyeh and Samir Srouji’s delightfully titled work Jack’s Ladder – No Angels Here Several works physically engaged and interacted with the city’s streets, alleys, inhabitants and visitors such as Manar Zuaibi’s site-specific installation titled O’shb Akhdar Akhdar (Green Green Grass) in Zqaq Al-Bos (Alleys of Kisses) and Leopold Kessler’s performance My Contribution, a poignant statement about Jerusalem, and the old city in particular.
The show took the idea of guided tours in the old city quite seriously this year, being inspired and encouraged by last year’s success with the tours to various and disparate locations in the old city. Our first guided tour, “Europe in Jerusalem,” was researched and led by Axel Weissenfels, an Austrian volunteer who has been working for Al-Ma’mal Foundation since March 2008. We conducted a pre-opening tour on the occasion of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union on the 1st of July. We visited nine “European” places in the old city, which included Italian, Spanish, British, Swedish, Polish, German, Austrian, Greek and French sites. Another tour was conducted by artist Luchezar Boyadjiev in the form of one of his famed guided tours that he began in Kassel, Germany. In the tour/performance, Boyadjiev provides his own reading of the show, including the artworks, exhibition concept and its context. Furthermore, I led a number of exhibition tours. I usually take advantage of these walks to show off, guiding fellow walkers through the labyrinthine streets, alleys, neighbourhoods, souqs, and rooftops, stopping from time-to-time for a photograph, small talk and of course, coffee.
Film and Video screenings were given extra emphasis this year. We commissioned three curators to work on topics we deemed relevant to the context of the Jerusalem show. Judy Price made her selection for “Representations of Palestine 1917 to 1948” (the British Mandate period in Palestine). She prepared documentaries, newsreels and uncut archival material from the period. Focusing on such footage, Price asked the audience to question the ways in which we construct history. Marc Mercier of Instant Video, Marseille, along with his colleague Naik M’sili presented the programme “Contemporary Video Art.” The videos were gathered based on the organizing concept of “Walks in the City.” Alia Arasoughly’s selection of “Palestinian Shorts” fell in line with The Jerusalem Show’s commitment to provide a platform for Palestinian film and video artists. As a result of Al-Ma’mal’s keenness to share and cooperate with other institutions working in the city we presented, in partnership with the Palestinian Art Court – Al-Hoash, a screening of “short animated films” by Zan Studio and Ahmad Habash at the Jerusalem hotel.
The workshop programme has always been one of the cornerstones of Al-Ma’mal Foundation’s work. Through the art workshops, we offer the next generation the opportunity to produce art in various media including sculpture, photography and painting. We believe that these workshops help us reach out to the youth. Through our investment of time and energy, we hope to leave a lasting legacy for future generations in Jerusalem and beyond.
The Jerusalem show is now “officially” an annual event. This firstly, has been made possible by sheer number of visitors and audience who topped 1000 over the 10-day period of the show. Secondly, by the sincere requests from local artists and enthusiastic responses from those abroad to take part in the project’s manifestation in the old city of Jerusalem. It has also found its strength and reason for continuation from the support and commitment of the cooperating institutions with whom we are working – our partners have played host to the artists and their work, provided our lifeline to the community and our linkages with the broadest constituencies.