Heading from Alabama to Mississippi, we took the marvel that is the Natchez Trace Parkway – a road that is a national park that is a journey through history. While still essentially just an asphalt road crossing beautiful landscape, of which there are thousands across the continent, the experience on the Trace is very much different. The intent and the care invested here are felt the second you get on. The acoustics, even the air itself, change. There is quiet, there is peace. And as you slowly pass through this wonderland, you encounter scores of historical markers, progressively accumulating to tell the tale of how this land was won and who had won it. It’s a complex and dichotomous experience – a sense of awe of the enterprise of mankind and heartache from the atrociousness and self-centered hubris that historically accompany it, almost by default. One of our stops was named Witch Dance (see photo below). An almost unintentional spotlight to an ever-present parallel road through human history, one on which powerful and independent women were demonized and prosecuted and burnt at the stake. Yet, progress has been constant throughout the centuries. Like waves licking the shores, slowly turning stones to sand, turning hard unmovable axiom to an infinity of shifting possibilities. Regardless, no matter the atrocities, the spirit cannot be quenched. We will eventually be gone, a mere blip on this earth, and it will shrug off and move on. And for women and for men, for whom time is briefer, we shall carry the stories and lessons of the past within us, from generation to generation, from wave to pounding wave, and eventually shift the tides.
Having briefly passed through Asheville, we crossed the mountains into Tennessee. Daylight was fading fast and our fuel faster. Fuel light on, we found an exit and thankfully found a nearby gas stop. It had gotten pretty dark, and we weren’t going to make it to Knoxville tonight anyway, so we searched online for a nearby option where we could spend the night. The last few days it had seemed that all camping grounds on either side of the mountains were either fully booked or very expensive and usually both. But serendipitously, we had stopped less than a mile from a place called Foxfire Campgrounds, which – on the phone – turned out to have vacancies. Getting there, it turned out that we were actually the sole guests on the grounds, our only companion the beautiful soul that was Joan, the camp manager. Under a clear starry sky and huddled around a campfire on the riverbank, we shared life stories and adventures. When Joan turned 50, a couple of years back, she had decided that she would celebrate for 50 days, doing one “awesome” deed in each. These varied from helping stranded strangers on the highway all the way to spending a night in jail, and this brief blog-post will not do them justice. Suffice to say, we stayed an extra night at Foxfire, gained a friend and much insight, and moved on.
When we work in nature we leave no trace behind us. A piece is created, breathes for a minute and is then torn apart – its existence remaining only in documentation. Something that has taken an hour to build is dismantled in one minute. It’s a good exercise in zen and in letting go. This piece, however, stayed on site for a couple of hours, as we felt the need to give it some time to be while we were making a few more works close by, on the same beautiful and mostly empty beach. After we finished (and took them all down) a woman approached us and asked what we meant by “don’t let go”. She then told us that she considered this a message from god, took a picture of it and sent to her daughter. “My daughter, a recent rescue from human trafficking, is a drug addict. She’s in a bad place. She lost custody of her two year old child and disappeared for eight months. A month ago we got a phone call from a hospital in South Carolina. The doctor said that if we want to see her alive we should come immediately. She’s with us now, struggling to get back on her feet. Struggling to believe in life again. This is a message to her, to continue, to believe, to not let go.”
Atlanta just kept on keeping us, day after day, with exceptional human beings and their incredible hospitality. By the time we left for Savannah, it was days behind schedule and getting dark. We stopped for the night in a bog of reflections, where tree barks simultaneously reach to the heavens and to the depths. Ground level becomes an in-between place, a paper-thin layer between two dimensions.
We had reached Decatur to do the “being” mural and left the Atlanta Metro more than two weeks later. Two weeks in which we did 5 masterclasses, a city event, an exhibition, and a mural. Several of the aforementioned exceptional human beings had also given us future dots on our map, places to go and people to meet. It had been so overwhelming in the best of ways, that all we could do now was use this place of reflections to reflect, to digest, to recharge before heading on.
And on the same shore, scattered with souvenirs of death and of life, and jellyfish-like-blobs, lay a toppled corpse. Its brethren stood stoically behind its flailing roots, keeping watch. And the waves came and went, and the schools of baby fish silvered the surface, and eagles glided along the shoreline between water and land. And as all of these things happened, minimalist and monumental at once, from the upturned toots blossomed a new forest. A new eclectic explosion of life, which heeds not to what was or what should be, but just is.
As the blankets of night descended upon us, on route from DC to Atlanta, we stopped on the shores of an enigmatic lake where waves materialized from nowhere and crescendoed upon the sand, laying roots bare and tumbling trees. The solemnity and totality of nature were an elixir after several hectic and human-filled weeks. We had left almost all we knew and owned on other, faraway shores, to facilitate exactly this – an all encompassing life process that embraces the unknown, lets go of the past and future and leaps right off the edge, into the now.
Falls Lake State Park: https://www.ncparks.gov/falls-lake-state-recreation-area
On the way to Woodstock NY,
right at the intersection where a right turn from a winding country road
leads off to a narrower and windier country road, this abandoned shed beckoned.
Screeching cicadas above in the treetops, serene and still pond at our feet,
merciless kamikaze mosquitoes everywhere in-between.
Trees are resilient creatures, as they move cyclically between a death-like state to lush life. This specific magnificent specimen, its branches reaching high and mighty into the cloudy sky above, was a living proof of how inspiring nature can be. From our point of view, us short humans, it was completely blackened from within. A thick bark engulfing an empty black hole. How can this possibly be the basis for this thriving giant with its green vibrant canopy?
The city is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just an urban grid, but a network of life that inhabits a given space – buildings, people, air, pollution, roads, cars, pavements, footsteps.
Nature is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just a patch of land, but a habitat in which life moves around, stands still, lives – ants, leaves, wind, grass, hooves, wings, clouds.
We are but a vessel. Following a thread of an idea, a myriad of red strings, hopes and dreams, veins and muscles that connect us to the thought of who we are, and then to the concrete ground and back again. On and on. When a glimpse of an image catches on, it travels that path – inward and outward, manifests itself into a line, into a life unfolding in space. This tree was torn apart, but I believe that it is whole nonetheless. Connected from stem to broken trunk by invisible lines of life and death.
“time will tell”.
Deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,
where the moose are elusive and the moss is ever-present.
Our first day on the road in our mobile home/studio.
A day full of gut feelings & intuitions, truly inspiring human encounters, new experiences,
great unknowns, winding roads, thunderstorms, aligning fear to faith, trusting it all,
minding our hearts.
In late November 2016, a great fire raged across the streets and woods of Haifa.
It was supposed to be winter but the air was dry and very windy. Not one drop of rain to hush the burning hisses,
no moistness to dampen the red tongues wildly licking wood and concrete alike.
The opening night of my new solo exhibition was a week away, which obviously meant
a complete mad house in our apartment… (9-foot long paintings piling up on the floor,
sculpture parts resting on the kitchen table, wet paint and brushes on every shelve).
At the time, not knowing how the story is going to unfold, I wrote in a FB post –
“We’ve prepared an emergency bag, in case the fire spreads and we will be forced to evacuate.
Not much went into this bag and what didn’t is an entire world of memories and significance that’ll be left behind.
We’ve calculated how much we can cram into our tiny old car next to one dog, two cats and two humans.
Against the formidable forces of nature, one is required to find focus and choose…”
Thanks to the hundreds of firefighters and to Lady Fortune,
the fire was extinguished before it reached our neighborhood.
Still, it made us think, and it made us choose. We chose life and not much more.
The rest was just stuff. Oh so precious and important, but stuff nonetheless.
Last week we went back to the parts of town that were devastated and burnt.
Here too, it was apparent that Nature has made a choice.
Green sprouted here and there. Flower beds among the blackened branches.
Death creating life anew.
A short walk down one of the many creeks that descend, vein-like, down the Carmel Mountain. It’s the end of summer, and there’s not a drop of water to be found. Several trees have been cut down through the years, presumably to clear way for water or travelers, depending on the season. Their carcasses are laid out, sliced, presumably so other trees don’t get any ideas.
This text-construction means: tree – object/bone
(weirdly and not weirdly, in Hebrew it’s the same word).
Read about the De/Construction series in this post:
Hebrew writing is not dependent upon vowels, instead relying on punctuation –
dots & lines that give a letter sound by mere proximity.
Once you reach mid-school, though, they just drop these punctuations,
and pretty much leave you with jumbled blocks of vowel-less, dot-less letters
and trust your vocabulary to make sense of it. It’s beautiful, really.
To the point at hand – it’s thanks to this that the building blocks of words in Hebrew
can many times be words all by their own.
When you don’t need vowels, you’ve got tons of 2 and 3 letter words.
Sometimes, you can shave off a word, letter by letter,
and be left with a another, functioning word every time.
And sometimes within those sometimes, these words encapsuled in one, tell a tale.
The construction/deconstruction of this specific work we did here means:
tree – object – itself – bones
This location, Stella Maris, was once a Monastery upon the mountain top.
Today it is a naval radar base. Figuratively, in both instances,
a specific demographic could enter to serve and search for signs from the heavens.
Things renew, things move forward, things mostly stay the same.
It’s beautiful, really.
When we returned to the city, we drove up to the mountain overlooking the sea
and mended the cracking gray concrete with blood-red scars.
While working, a zealous Australian approached,
his heart full of kindness and his eyes full of flames.
Him, on a 4-week pilgrimage in the footsteps of prophets;
us, metaphorically healing the wounds of time.
He wondered whether the nearby Elijah’s Cave is the real deal, or just a tourist attraction.
I replied that in my opinion, even if Elijah had never actually dwelled there,
but thousands of people over the centuries are convinced that he had,
then the place is imbued with their energy
and that makes it into a meaningful place, either way.
The zealous Australian sparkled his eyes and disagreed.
“You,” he said, “contend that humans can produce such energy,
where as I believe that energy such as this is the sole property of God.”
Either way, it was a beautiful day.