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The House on the Borderline, 2007


On Mai 16th a huge march through the Old City was to end the week long festivities around ‘Jerusalem 40 years of Reunification’ but an unusual thunderstorm hit the golden city and heavy showers rendered any potential ‘reunification’ march obsolete. The next day, I opened my solo show Border Land, Mapping and Walking Jerusalem’s Borderlines at the Willy Brandt Centre located in the neighbourhood of Abu Tor.

Facing the Temple Mount, (Haram el Shariff), the Centre is located in the neighborhood of Abu Tor/ Al Thouri and stands on the Green Line – the former “no-man’s-land” that separated the Jordanian East Jerusalem from the Israeli West Jerusalem. The house in Abu Tor inspired me, I felt that exhibiting there during Jerusalem’s Reunification festivities, held a particular meaning. Over the years I came to realise that the city of Jerusalem was ‘unified’ only in the slogans delivered by politicians wishing to create a reality that matched their own desires.

In Border Land, Mapping and Walking Jerusalem’s Borderlines, I show the city’s wounds and scars, a vision dialectically opposed to unity slogans and to the infinite beauty unfolding in front of the viewer standing on the balcony of the Willy Brandt Centre.

On the upper floor, in dialogue with that landscape I exhibited the Jerusalem Puzzle (1998), a jigsaw puzzle bearing the scars of its potential fragmentation while on the wall I hang three Road Maps, all of them related to the geographical site of the house and its surroundings. The fourth map, Map # 6, Shu’afat / Pisgat Ze’ev, was in conversation with Burial (2007), a series of pictures showing the remains of a Jewish settlement, dating back from the destruction of the First and Second Temple periods, which had been uncovered in the Arab neighborhood of Shu’afa. The photographs show ruins being reburied under the cement poured by trucks working on the infrastructure of the light rail road. The now invisible underground city echoed the structural absence existing in the Road Maps, those diptychs maps which deconstruct Palestinian and Israeli neighbourhoods around the Jerusalem borderline. In that same space I also exhibited 55 handy-size earth bags all bearing the logo of Arim (in Hebrew: cities). Like miniaturised cement sacks or military sandbags, Holy Land for Sale (1996) can be seen, among other things, as a metaphor for transferring areas of land from one hand to another.

Inspired by the architectonic space of the house, I hang four Jerusalem Scrolls in the narrow staircase leading to the Willy Brandt library. These Scrolls shows Israeli parade in front of Damascus Gate on Jerusalem day, a Women Peace march against the wall in Kalandiya and the violent uprising during the Friday Prayer as Muslims scuffled with Israeli security forces in front of the Damascus Gate in March 2007.

In the hidden space under the staircase I installed 10 beehives which illuminated in red the obscured and constricted cavity bringing forth associations of vessels of death. Originally created in 1994 Virgin of Israel and Her Daughters connect to the ancient Greek belief which invests the bee with chthonic characteristics connected to the birth and death of the soul. This concealed work was in dialogue with Surgical Operation (2004) a video featuring a performance in which two surgeons perform a ‘surgical operation’ on Closure Maps conveying in a metaphorical way the chronic condition of the city of Jerusalem, a sick ‘patient’ suffering from an incurable pathologic violence.


Ariane Littman