About a week earlier, we had made a rather dramatic detour – instead of continuing south from Savannah to Florida, we had crossed The Carolinas and The Smoky Mountains into Tennessee – all for a handwritten sheet of paper with the names and emails of two teachers in Knoxville. When we embarked we had emailed them, and later also wrote to the Savannah teacher who had sent us their way, but we never did receive a reply from any of the three. But as the saying goes, and we live by it, all for the best. We felt grateful for this thread as it had led to several incredible serendipitous encounters and experiences. And now that we were here, in Tennessee, we decided to pick up some other threads that were given to us months ago and head on to Chattanooga and Indianapolis. So now, on the way to Chattanooga, we made one symbolic stop and left our heart in Knoxville.
walking in a maze of my own make,
the walls keep shifting with every step I take.
put it down, lay it out, then
pick it up, confront the doubt.
Some days you just got to go out and do it.
The first step towards healing is acknowledging the wound.
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.
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 headed south to Boston for a breakfast rendezvous with the (wondrous) sister of a dear (and wondrous) friend from back home and ended up staying a couple of nights at her place. Her hospitality facilitated numerous chance encounters and leads for our journey – from a radiant English Literature Professor to an awe-inspiring Palestinian peace activist to a very elderly but extremely sharp art critique to a Buddhist temple and eventually to the Mayor/Supervisor’s office in Woodstock NY, where that particular thread tapered off. Some of these people and stories you can already see on other posts on this blog or on the ever-growing Community Hearts page. The others will probably join in the future. But back to the Boston sister. Behind the house there is small garden, a serene and simple place where some plants are grown intentionally and others burst from the compost infused ground. As we prepared to get back on the road, our host and the garden gifted us with an offering of mint, basil and grapevine leaves that have vastly improved our culinary experiences in the days since.
We are grateful to both.
Off the recommendation of a girl from Boston whom we met at the edge of a peninsula in NH
and with a mistaken assumption that we could get breakfast here,
we arrived at this cool fermentation joint in Portland ME serving a plethora of tasty fermented liquid concoctions.
A few Saturday morning beverages later, but unconnected to that fact, we offered the guy at the bar to create a wall-piece for them.
be longing. belonging.
This is what we felt here. At that moment we felt this was just about the place, the vibe, the communal sense of it.
But looking back and writing this, I wonder if it’s not also about the two of us,
flying far from home, always staying connected to our source but always carrying on, putting faith in letting go,
belonging to the longing for the interactions and creations, always new but all connected to the one great source
from which all is drawn.
Driving in search for breakfast, somewhere in the White Mountains region,
an abandoned piano called us from the side of the road.
A quick U-turn and we heeded its call, stopping at a deserted shop-plaza and lot.
It was a beautiful thing, still, even with its guts laid bare for the mountain winds and rains.
Hesitantly we pressed a key and were startled by a loud and clear note that pierced the morning silence
and sailed across the empty lot, onto the road, onward.
A few more notes and we were off on our way, but we left our heart there
as a quiet companion to the unheard music of the piano’s soul.
incomplete. in complete. complete.
We continue saying our goodbyes here in Israel, this time to Tel Aviv
whose walls welcomed our first works, 8 years ago.
A different text was originally set for this piece, a poem about longing across the seas.
But once the separated yarn halves were up, that initial text just didn’t feel right.
So we left them there, dangling and incomplete, and went to do some soul-searching.
What was born is this – a piece about relationships, about belonging, and… about longing across the seas.
As our days here in Israel wind down
and the On the Road phase of this project beckons,
we are dealing even more than usual with the cyclical nature of things.
The end allows for a beginning, a beginning necessitates an end.
Behind doors that have long remained shut and dormant
wait the possibilities of a decisive action.
The text of this work reads: m-ma-mag-magi-magic
The building or breaking down of a word (adding or subtracting the next letter) is a conceptual act that originates from the Kabbalah and aims to strengthen or weaken a particular idea, to bring something into or out of existence.
You know those cursed corners, where businesses perpetually fail?
A seemingly perfectly situated spot on an otherwise bustling street,
where nothing succeeds and nothing lasts but boarded-up windows and crushed hopes.
One after another after another. Cafe, restaurant, shop, deli, cafe again.
Sometimes they last a year, sometimes even less.
It seems that no matter what they do and how they do it, the Curse prevails.
Each closure a broken dream and a devastated savings account.
People who were sure they would be the ones to break the cycle,
or who could care less about supposed “curses”.
We notice these spots, accept them as a wayward but intrinsic parts of the living-city-web.
Perhaps just blips, but perhaps serving some strategic purpose, unbeknownst to us,
within the urban venous system.
Either way, a little magic doesn’t hurt.
The expectations, my fears, the people and animals whom I love, love, love more than words.
The set of clothes for a special mood, the bookcase(s), my own bed, the excellent shower, the table on which I work, the collection of large color markers, the countless spice-jars (shelves full of them!)
All that connects me to this place… my home base.
This is a lesson in release.
I train myself in the way of the unexpected and the unbelievable. :-‘)
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.
Up on the mountains that oversee Jerusalem,
there once lived a quarry where machines and men ate into the mountainside,
in turn feeding other machines that digested the stones and earth, turning them to powder
that other men could use to make their own brand of stones and earth, and build homes and roads.
The bellowing clouds of dust which incessantly encompassed the nearby town
eventually led to a citizen revolt, which led to the quarry being shut down, two decades ago.
Abandoned and derelict, its skeletal remains crumble slowly but somehow majestically.
Perhaps absorbed at night, with no soul to witness, back into the scarred terrain.
Saturday afternoon in the port of Haifa.
Dedicated to all who crave for starry skies and distant horizons.
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.
Haifa is dotted with more than a dozen crumbling colossals,
relics of a time when cinema was larger than life and cinemas were its churches.
These huge majestic buildings stand out even today in their girth and magnitude.
Shut, hollow and abandoned, it seems no present-day venture has a use for such beasts.
The Hadar Cinema is actually the smallest member of this family.
It sits between the railroad and the flea-market, its doors and windows barred.
While life whizzes around it, its rows of chairs remain buried in darkness and memories.
The text of the work reads:
there are no answers
between the lines
“What is this nonsense? Draw something beautiful!”,
the old man shouted at us from his 2nd floor window across the street.
“I’ll erase it, just like I erased the previous nonsense that was here.”
Well, that explained the white coat of paint, expressively brushed on the wall.
“Draw a horse, a bird, something beautiful!”
I tried to de-nonsensify the work to the man in the window,
hoping to change his mind about erasing it,
hoping to grant our work at least a few days of life. He wouldn’t have any of it:
“Why don’t you draw a camel, something beautiful?”
In the meantime, an old homeless man stopped by with his overflowing shopping cart of found treasures.
“All these graffiti hooligans, defacing the city. It’s just ugly.”
While he and Maya began discussing street-art and vandalism,
my exchange with the man in the window continued:
“Draw a lion, a bird. Something I understand.” And there it was.
He hated it, really hated it, because he did not understand it.
I translated the text, explained in details the positivity of the message,
brought his attention to the relative fineness and delicateness of the work.
He heard, but I wasn’t sure he listened.
Same for the homeless man, who continued to decry the “ugly, self-promoting graffiti”
and long for “actual art” to be done on the streets.
As we got into the car to leave,
the man in the window retracted silently into the darkness behind him.
The homeless man, though, rummaged through his cart, pulled out a gold spray-paint can,
and with a serious smile and devious eyes, said: “Now I’m gonna go make some real art”.
The Bat Galim Casino in Haifa was never actually a casino,
but it is a cool name, given to it at birth in the 1930’s.
Built literally on the waterline, defying past and present construction laws,
this 3-story building never lived up to its immense potential.
Even with the tide coming and going right underneath its glass floor
and the sea winds caressing its rooftop terrace, it’s almost as if it was cursed.
From a cultural center under British rule, to a cinema in the 50’s, to a night club in the 70’s –
no matter what it tried to be, it never lasted.
And then the aforementioned laws caught up, and put the Casino at an impasse.
One cannot renovate it, because it’s illegal to build right on the water.
One cannot tear it down, because it will harm the marine environment around it.
And so, for most of its life and for the past 30 odd years,
this could-have-been gem is a hollow shell slowly whittled away by the salty waves,
whistled through by the winds, bleached by the summer suns.
the text of the work reads:
with our incessant creation —
colossals upon the water —
the beating wind — and the two of us —
and should they dare enter the eye of the storm —
they will never be able — not for a moment —
to calm us.
Photo by Naftali Shoshani
(Translated from Hebrew)
As I tether my fate to your rope
As a shepherdess, a Messiah, a noose
Blanket myself in your breath, in your skin
Stumble through the haze of the dream
The embers of past ignite in the dark
And my heart misses a beat
A walk in the back-alleys of Florentin, Tel Aviv.
A Facebook follower whose mother had just passed away
asked if we could place a heart at the mother’s house, in her memory.
It was our privilege.
Out & about in Haifa
Done on Hamered (translation: Rebellion) Street, separating the old, ground-bound
and picturesque Neve Zedek quarter from office buildings that loom over it.
We did this mural on the wall of abandoned shop at Haifa’s Turkish Market.
In Ottoman days, the market was the city’s commercial center.
Several phases later, and as city-cycles go, it degenerated into neglect
but is nowadays experiencing an attempted resuscitation that is only somewhat successful,
hence the abandoned shop(s).
Here’s hoping this place, its alleys imbued with history and magic,
rises again to be all that it can.
It does usually take more than one electric-shock to revive the patient.
This photo and the featured one at the very top, by: Naftali Shoshani
Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa has a history spanning more than 3,000 years,
all originated down by the seaside, by the port. This area today is a mishmash of modern, old and ancient;
of active commerce, culture, food and education but also of abandonment and decay.
It’s weird how the city’s center seems to drift further and further away,
opting for newer, blander neighborhoods and businesses
while in many ways leaving behind its oldest structures, in essence its heart and soul.
As we were figuratively putting some healing touches on the cracks of time,
a young man passing by began to fervently explain to us the futility of our actions,
that we should be using cement if we’re trying to really put things right.
He went as far as ripping a few pieces off, to prove his point.
We tried to explain the use of metaphors in art and about the soul inherent in all things,
but he quickly moved on to pitch us his own music, Ethiopian pop, on his mobile-phone.
Our first artistic expedition in our new city.
Moving to Haifa after 15 years in Tel Aviv was surprisingly not dramatic,
and has felt more like the natural course of things.
The two cities are vastly different.
Haifa is laid back and somewhat dormant, whereas Tel Aviv is the hub of activity.
Haifa is green and wild and mountainous, while Tel Aviv is flat and somewhat arid.
And Haifa is multicultural, in a way that no other place in Israel can match.
Muslims, Jews, Christians, Bahá’ís, each group composed of people from a multitude of nations,
all just live here.
There’s a term in Hebrew, “dual existence”, which aims to describe
a somewhat Utopian future where Jews and Arabs live, side by side.
There is no dual existence in Haifa.
Here it is mutual existence, not side by side but simply together.
Like any commercial boulevard, anywhere in the modern world,
Ibn Gabirol St. is a constant bombardment of your senses. It’s more than just colors, sounds and smells. Anywhere you look, you are being sold something. From the shops and cafes to the billboards and the sides of buses.
Unless you are actively shopping at this exact time, the natural reaction is a dimming of the senses, a blurring of the outside reality, to grant yourself some peace. These dimmed hours accumulate over a month, a year, a lifetime.
Our small installations aim to be tiny havens for the senses, spots to which your eyes can flee, where no one is pitching you anything. Spots that remind you and hopefully aid you to stay present and in the present.