Intense is the only word that (almost) adequately covers the weeks since I last posted. Between the Fellows finalizing plans for their projects, bringing their teams together and jumping into the complex works they are each creating and the tensions going on with the collision of Ramadan, Passover and Easter, especially in the Old City it has been INTENSE.
I will share a bit about what each Fellow is working on below. In terms of the current situation, I will say that thank god that everyone is safe. There have been some scary moments. Two of our fellows were in Tel Aviv the day of the shooting. They were close to where it took place, thankfully not at the time it did. But we in Jerusalem were extremely frightened til we knew they were safe.
Last week, two of our fellows had received passes to Holy Fire from Vibha’s new Armenian friend (the one who introduced her to woodworkers in Bethelehem and the Armenian Father at the Church of the Nativity…) Their friend could not get to the Old City because traffic was blocked but they contacted friends who were already there to welcome Vibha and Anna, who were SO excited to be able to experience this incredible event. However, when they arrived at the entrance their passes were torn up by police who were extremely hostile to them and who ignored the pleadings of the Armenians who told the police that the women were their guests. (Read more about Holy Fire and these “security” occurrences, which happened to many others, here.)
Nonetheless, the work continues.
Anna’s salon engaged the public in her work on Synchronicity through weaving. She and partner Gre created a complicated “machine” that takes the touch or the shuttle on the threads to make sounds created by a singer. Several weavers are connected, each with their own rhythm. If it sounds hard to describe and difficult to understand, it is even harder to do! We wil post videos soon – which will make it all clearer. I can say that it is exceptionally beautiful and that Anna’s work with Neuroscientists as well as the מוזיאון המדע ע״ש בלומפילד ירושלים staff makes it a true weaving of science and art.
Claudia is working on two dance projects – one with Catamon Dance Group directly – a performance at the Brown Hotel which will take place on May 12. Claudia has created a duet for two dancers on the bar. It will be filmed so we who can’t attend will be able to see it. Her other project is a dance video she is creating in collaboration with her partner Alex. She has chosen two sites – the one outdoors was going to be at the beautiful nature preserve Ein Prat, but when permission was denied she found another site – and made friends with 2 Bedouins who now want to be part of her production team. The other location is a tiny room inside the Tower of David. We will get to see some of the unedited videos at her final presentation. The finished video will be projected as part of Catamon’s festival this fall.
Claudia, who is a master collaborator, is structuring her upcoming salon all about collaboration in the dance world.
Vibha’s project has gone through multiple iterations as she has figured out a way to represent her experience of Jerusalem in the context of מוסללה’s upcoming rooftop festival. And the limitations of time and budget. She has created an extraordinary grid of the branches of the 3 Abrahamic religions in order to identify expert scholars and musicians (including the amazing Victoria Hannah) from these different groups to talk about the relationship between humans and nature from the perspective of their texts. With the help of local filmmaker Aaron Paz, she is documenting each of these experts and the final result – audio and video, will be viewed/heard as part of an installation made of stone that will be on Muslala’s rooftop. And possibly in a larger scale version at the Tower of David.
Sofia created an extraordinary structure for her students at Ibdaa School of the Arts, using the creative devices she employs herself to help them develop their own work. She was working 3 days a week (even during Ramadan!,) taking them to different museums and helping them develop ways of re-interpreting and layering images they have photographed on their cellphones. She has also introduced them to a number of other local artists including Alon Kedem, laying the groundwork for other artists in Jerusalem to continue the work she is doing with them, to help them understand that making art is about self-expression and giving them tools to achieve that. I am looking forward to seeing the works in progress they share at their final presentation on May 6.
In addition to all this, here the Fellows are connecting with Jerusalemites in many other ways. Vibha and Sofia will be presenting at the class of Sarah Benninga at Bezalel. Vibha also presented one of her films and talked to students at Ibdaa followed by an Iftar meal organized by Ibdaa’s amazing Principal, Melhem Bader. Claudia just taught a fantastic Master class at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. And lots more connections continue to be made and expanded on.
It is strange how quickly the time has passed. And yet it seems the Fellows have been here a very long time. I am already missing them.