1. removal de la physical. the mother land left behind.
i’ve been loosening my shoelaces for some months now, removing them altogether – using Velcro now, so i’m still attached back there: ‘home’; but there are no knots; just connections; my blood, love, her-stories. there has been a lot of glue before departure; sometimes too sticky, sometimes the kind you want to be stuck in. a lot of heart-pains and lots of mixed up dirt and dust; but ultimately inevitable in some ways: these things happen before a ‘leaving’ – an immediacy gone amok, an urgency to reconcile, to ‘sum up’ – to ‘figure out’ – but it’s left open now, and i’m happy where it’s been left; although still here with me and also still ‘back there’ across the seas for another day, for tomorrow, and then in months, 6 or so: the amount of time i am supposed to be here in Israel.
2. to the ‘holy land’.
passports, signatures, bags, baggage, photographs, identification, are you a citizen or are you a tourist “what is your purpose of travel?” “who will you be staying with?” “how do you know him?” “how long will you be staying?” “enjoy your stay”. 25 hours, 1 bus trip, 3 flights, 4 in-flight plastic covered meals, 2 movies, 3 podcasts, 5 hours sleep, 4 timezones, 1 lost backpack, and a shit load of CO2. I arrive. Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, Israel “The Holy Land”. whilst flying over Tel Aviv the architecture jutted out immediately, the same style all over – square roofs, white, tall and short, – an old german style apparently – spreading far far and wide. Elad is waiting for me, we get on another two trains and one of the first things I notice is a young man in an army getup carrying a machine gun. just normal, I remember; compulsory three years in the army for israeli’s. a lot of them around, with backpacks, they have been home with their families for the weekend, now have to go back to the army…
So you are in Israel, you are the ‘other’, foreign and small, not really any ‘one’ of importance to people here – and that’s good, I like this -like an automatic barrier perhaps. a dislocation or disconnection that allows for new eyes without cynicism, criticism, expectations, a bit of knowledge, my own politiks, my own ethics, yet a vision that is not set in stone, that inevitably it will be shaped, moulded, twisted and challenged. i want my feet back now, on the ground – leading me to the next part of this process, this greater foot path.
3. meals with the family. Raanana.
i am welcomed in to the home of the Rabinovich’s – they have mowed the lawn and lunch is ready, we grip hands and kiss two cheeks – welcome, hello, nice to meet you, shalom, boker tov, toda raba. I only speak English, and I feel shamed. Why didn’t I continue with another language in high school college, university? I can speak a bit of espanol, and a few words from 10 languages maybe one day to expand. I hope. I never thought of learning Hebrew, but now I really wish I did. Although, most people speak English, it would help me to feel less of a tourist. I wonder “when do you stop being a tourist?” – when you are familiar enough with the neighbours and can think only in shekels without conversion?
so anyway – lunch is vegetarian delight: Fava bean soup musha (mung bean dahl), cabbage and potato curry and smoked eggplant dip, chai masala tea or local red wine. Already we speak of conflict “what do Australians think of Israelis?” “what do you hear in the media?” “that we are all horrible occupying peoples? That we are the perpetrators? The evil?” well… what do I say – we hear what is ‘happening’ I suppose it works both ways if you look closely enough – if you do your research and if you are not a zealout. It seems ‘peace’ not only means something else now, the true word is a long way away and seems so “hard” to achieve now. But I’m sure everyone yearns for it. In some way or another.
4. new day sun down by 5.
Elad is unwell, he’s not doing much, although it’s forcing me to challenge my fears of meeting new people without someone to hide behind. So elad works for a couple in Herzliya, only about 6kms away, on the coast, the Mediterranean, but one hour on the bus as it weaves and wiggles through the small streets allowing me time to gawk and say “do you speak English?” more times than I’d wish. So I am visiting Ilan and Evilyn in their apartment in because I will be doing some scanning there. Up high, where you can see the sea from the balcony. They collect postcards and photographs for archives, books and exhibitions and I will be scanning them and cleaning them ready for print or web. Easy enough. So elad had given me a map and said 20/56 of this street, but forgot it’s in Hebrew. Anyway, ilan comes down the lift with lasa the dog, ilan’s arms waving in the air a high voice of welcomes and how are you’s in a French/israeli accent. “welcome to Israel Jessie! You like it? It’s beautiful, you’ll love it, welcome to Herzliya” and so on. I am fed and coffeed out and taken on a trip to Natanya a further city, (it seems all are ‘cities’ not ‘towns’ – constantly sprawling) of about 20mins drive along the ‘north’ highway. Past more shopping centres who lease the land from the Kibbutz….?! Natanya an old city, bustling, busy cafes shops people, alive. I’m just looking wandering, being shown, talked at, spoken to, led, it’s nice. passive/active participation.
5. Adama Vehalom – the foundations. (led & curated by Zeev Klorfeld)
the reason i’m here: mostly. to make a body of work that will be ongoing beyond the exhibition in May, 2009, Tel Aviv, with Elad, myself, Daphna – Elad a photographic artist, videoer, initiator, etc. and Daphna, an earth-installation artist. Living in a Kibbutz in Jerusalem. There might also be a painter too.
Our title, ‘Adama Vehalom’, means ‘Earth Land Dream’: Adama in Hebrew is Earth and Land, (the suffix ma – relate to “Ima” which means Mother in Hebrew -“mother earth”) and it’s coming from Adam – the first man (Adam & Eve); and ‘Halom’ means dream. we will be addressing concepts of conflict, peace, land, earth, language, dreams and mythology. It will be based here in Israel-Palestine, made while walking along the Israeli National Trail, although only using it as a base for our travels, no doubt veering off it many times. The work will go beyond the political issues currently and historically encompassing the current conflict, and draw a line that is not just social, cultural and ecological, but also phenomenological (a breathing earth) and mythical (spiritual). We humans have this theory-turn-reality of separation from the earth that desperately needs deconstructing. We have, over time, developed the anthropocentric belief that the earth (nature) is to be controlled and dominated to sustain our habits and lifestyles; we have the tenacity to believe that we humans are not actually ‘a part of the earth’, that somehow we are ‘separate’ from it. – so anyway, it is just beginning, we are laying the foundations over coffee in Raanana, we will be meeting Arabs, Israeli’s Bedouins, Druze, Israeli Cowboys, Pilgrims, Tourists and so on. Photographing them, the land, and opening the discourse for each person’s connections with ‘the holy land’- as it will be so very varied.
We plan to begin walking on the 16th of December, spend two weeks around Nazareth to observe and meet with the pilgrims/tourists/Christians who flock to these areas at this time. Then leave after that, hitch perhaps all the way south to Eliat, to begin the walk north.
so i’m finding my feet, perhaps in socks and sandals right now, but i’m beginning to feel like there’s a solid connection between everything I am doing with my work now, that it’s part of something much larger, that has been thought about for hundreds of thousands of years, and now continued in 2008 with this young woman and her blue eyes and nine toes, sore back and too many battery chargers.
love. layla tov. goodnight.