Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

On The Seam

As BZ briefly mentioned, a bunch of us went to Museum On The Seam on Tuesday. The “seam” in question is the division between East and West Jerusalem; it is physically located on the seam, and also focuses on contemporary art which deals with socio-political issues. We were there to see the current exhibit, Bare Life:

Bare Life is the third in a series of exhibitions on themes of human rights that we are presenting at the Museum. This exhibition aims to touch upon the increasingly unraveling seam between deviant states and normative states, and to point resolutely at the place where the temporary emergency situation turns into a legitimized ongoing situation that in the end leads to a paranoia of suspicion and to the use of violence to re-establish public order.The works on show in this exhibition were selected with an intention to present and depict the atmosphere that encourages nations and organizations to activate invasive methods which infringe the boundaries of our identity, our privacy, and the freedom we are entitled to as citizens of a world that not so long ago experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, was witness to atrocities and to contempt of human values, and was enlightened enough to proclaim its aspiration for reforms and new directions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was formulated after the end of that terrible war.

This aspiration is confronted in the exhibition by means of works by 42 artists from all over the world, some of whom are showing this work in Israel for the first time. In their works, these artists bring testimonies that attempt to clarify the nature of relations in times of trouble and in periods of uncertainty which the regime or the sovereign define by as a times for restoring order, which accords the authorities the power to use all the means at their disposal.

While many of the pieces focused on the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict, there was also work focusing on the former USSR, China, South Africa, the US South, and more.

There were some very interesting pieces, a lot of mixed and multi-media. The one I found the most intense was a video installation, which featured a line of people stepping forward to see *something* (we don’t know what), and their reaction to the *something*. Most cried, gasped, looked horrified, quickly looked away then stole additional glances. Equally interesting, and I think this was the artist’s main point, was seeing the people’s interactions with one another – a touch on the shoulder, a reassuring look, a hug… I was mesmerized, and ended up watching the full video. For me, that piece made the whole exhibit worthwhile.

Equally interesting was the rooftop view. The museum has sketched out the surrounding neighbourhoods, placing a sketch-map at each cardinal direction so you can know which buildings and neighbourhoods you’re looking at from your vantage point on the seam. It was really interesting.*

I have to call the museum back and find out when their next exhibit will be rolling in, as I want to go back. If you speak English, Hebrew, or Arabic (the museum is trilingual) you should check it out too.

*This isn’t quite the right post for this, but I’m hijacking it: While I’ve mentioned hearing the adhan before, I don’t think I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy living in a place where I can hear the call to prayer multiple times a day. I heard it while I was on the rooftop of the museum, I can hear it from my apartment, I hear it when I’m at shuk, I hear it all around town. I love it. Even though I know that there is a huge separation between the Jews and Muslims, especially in a city and country where Arabs are constantly profiled, treated suspiciously, and pushed down, it makes me feel a connection to Jerusalem that I haven’t otherwise felt. It gives me hope that these neighbours, descendants of Abraham/Ibrahim can live and pray together. When I hear their adhan, I’m reminded that I have (or haven’t) davened three times that day, just as there are Muslims who have (or haven’t) prayed five times that day. And it reminds me of “Muslim Shabbat,” and the great conversations I would have with my Muslim friends at Concordia. And it reminds me of the times I went to the mosque with friends, and stood next to them in prayer, davening the amidah while they went through the salat recitations, noticing the similarities between both prayers in their formula and body movements. I think I need to find a joint prayer/religious group here.

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Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, religion, war

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