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The Holy Land Bottles (1993-1996), 1993

I took notice of the Holy Land Bottles, tiny bottles with a red top, sold in the vicinity of holy places in 1992. That same year I used them in Invitation to a Voyage. Exhibited at the Tel Aviv museum, this work already  related to the dialectic of the Holy Land. In retrospective it became a key work to my Holy Land Project.

In one of the Plexiglas box, lies three small bottles with incense, water and earth. On each bottles I erased the word ‘THE’ so that these bottles no longer relate to the actual conflict-laden Holy Land but to an inaccessible paradise-like island similar to the one on the poster.

That same year I used these bottles for an art piece entitled Jeu de Dames, a work created in homage to Marcel Duchamp’s Box in a Valise. This art work created at the outset of the peace negotiations between President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, symbolised the unpredictability of the game’s outcome.

In a similar spirit in 1996, I used these Holy Land bottles for my installation located on the bridge leading to the Jerusalem Cinemateque and overlooking  the walls of the Old City, Mishekenot Sha’ananim and the Arab village of Silwan. There during a short performance I played a checker game with the Holy Land bottles,  a game  symbolising in my mind History’s unpredictability over the destiny of Jerusalem.

These bottles from the Holy Land were an inspiration for my following works with earth bags, water bottles and air cans, works that subverted the notion of the Holy Land by introducing other economic and political interests.


Ariane Littman