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Holy Water, 1998

Water from Eden

The idea of shipping water from the Holy Land to Germany was primarily associated in my mind to the relations between holy and profane in modern Israeli society. I was fascinated with the transformation of plain water into holy water sold to pilgrims in search of religious souvenirs and I decided to turn pure mineral water sold to the public into ‘Holy Water.’

With it’s source in the Golan Heights, Mey Eden (literally, Water from Eden) holds 65% of the mineral water market. The tiny image printed on the bottle labels depicts a Virgilian nature untouched by urbanisation in harmony with the company’s marketing strategy: pure water  from a pure nature. The source was discovered by Moshe Meiri, the founder of the Mey Eden, who went to look for the ‘good water’ and who found the water by a fig tree. The factory was founded in 1986, the water flows directly from the source to the factory through tubes preventing contact with ambient air. This sterile environment ensuring the water’s purity (or holiness) continues within the factory itself, where the entire process is run by machines, while every hour a sample of water is being checked to ensure its purity. Stepping out of the factory, I wondered if the ‘good water’ of Moshe Meiri, could become the forbidden water from the Garden of Eden if the Golan Heights was be returned at the outset of peace negotiations with Syria…

In the space of the Ministry I created an installation with 1000 litres of water in the form of a huge cross, a design within the window frames. Viewers could drink water from a small mini bar.

For the show in New York a few months later, I was able to edit the original text describing the sterility of the whole manufacturing process in the factory, adding in English the words: Holy Water 1998, special edition, 500 bottles. The bottles were then signed and numbered.


Ariane Littman