The Mobile Forests (1992-2015), 1997
The “Forbidden Forest” 1967-2003
I first went searching for the mysterious “Grandfather Forest” back in 1991, as I worked on my solo show, Nature Morte, which dealt with the dialectic of nature versus culture.
The Grandfather Forest having easily been located on the maps, I was driven on a cold morning winter across muddy fields, far from built areas, by a high rank employee from the Jewish National Fund. Soon upon our arrival near the Forest, soldiers in an army car told us that we could not drive further on: the Forest had become a closed military area. I left the site, disappointed not to have found the memorial stone.
Over the years this forest became a riddle for me. My parents had never been informed of the destiny of the forest and many questions kept coming to my mind: when exactly did it become a closed military area? Was the site chosen before the trees had grown, or was it chosen after the trees had grown high enough to hide its secret? The small picture I had found in the archives of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) showed my parents as a young couple back in 1967, posing next to a memorial stone with no trees around it. Thirty years later, I did see tall trees behind the wall inscribed with the names of the donors. Was it the same place? My parents did not recall the location of the forest and since 1967 they had never gone back to look for it.
The “Forbidden Forest” was to metamorphosed itself into many “Mobile Forests” originating with ‘Nature Morte’, the greenhouse created inside the Bograshov gallery back in 1992 where for the first time I relocated a replica of the original memorial stone which I had never seen in the now “Forbidden Forest”. Later in 1997 for ‘The Relocation’ I asked the JNF people to put up a new replica of the memorial stone outside the ‘Forbidden Forest’, allocating myself a plot of land which was not originally part of the designed area. In 2000, still intrigued by the forest, I search aerial archives and found a large white stain covering the ‘Grandfather Forest’, the latter was the result of military censorship, a powerful ready-made erasure. Going through the archives I found many such white stains covering the whole country which led to my photo installation entitled ‘White Land’ which was first exhibited at the Artists’ House in Jerusalem in 2001. I exhibited the two diptych photo installation usually with young trees and the Littman memorial stone, enhancing the private side of national security annexation. The Memorial Stone without any trees was exhibited in a group show at the MUKHA in Antwerp while the new ‘Mobile Forests’ were exhibited at the Museum of Art in Ein Harod (IL) and at The JCCs Gershman Y Gallery in Philadelphia (US) in 2002.
Ultimately in November 2003, maybe as a result of my art ‘actions’, the Jewish National Fund inaugurated the Rededication of the ‘Littman Forest Outlook’ in memory of Joseph and Evelyn Littman in the British Park of Bet Shemesh, and also in memory of the ‘invisible’ 20’000 trees of the original Forbidden Forest. Together with my parent I attended the ceremony for this new recreational area where the public would now be able to enjoy nature in a naive pastoral atmosphere free of any simulative aims as originally intended by my family back in 1967.