Photo Credit: Daniel Enosh
September 17, 2019
Window Stories by Lili & Faluja
Itamar Paloge (also known as “Faluja”) reflects on his most recent project, “Window Stories”, the first installment of this year’s Mekudeshet Festival, currently being displayed at Jerusalem’s Gan HaSus garden and will be showing through September 21, 2019.
The idea behind this project all began at last year’s Mekudeshet Festival, an alternative art, culture and world music festival based in Jerusalem. Kobi Frig, the producer of Mekudeshet, had approached me and said that Yoram Amir, famed artist and activist, had fallen ill with only a few months left to live. Kobi and Yoram knew of my work and asked if I would be interested in inheriting Yoram’s prized collection, and turning it into a major art installation. This was of course a very moving and exciting request. I knew that this wouldn’t be just another “job”, but rather a real collaboration to complete this amazing man’s life’s work.
Yoram Amir was from Jerusalem, and for the past 15 years, he had collected discarded wood and glass from abandoned dumpsters and construction sites in and around Jerusalem. Many of the items he found were decades and even centuries old and represented Jerusalem’s many different periods over time. These discarded objects came not only from people’s abandoned houses, but also from synagogues, mosques, and churches. The collection truly represented the rich history of Jerusalem and its people.
So, I contacted my brother-in-law and artistic partner, Lili Peleg, with whom I often work in collaboration (our duo name is Lili & Faluja), and the three of us sat down and came up with a plan. Lili comes from the field of civic engineering and architecture, and I come from the art & design background, so this was a very interesting collaboration for all of us. In the end, we came up with the idea to create a sculpture that would be constructed similarly to a chapel or hall. We wanted to create an installation that you can walk into and be a guest in. And so, we called it Hechal (meaning ‘palace’, referring to the inner sanctuary of a holy structure).
Hechal is made up from objects found throughout Jerusalem and was made for the people of Jerusalem. One important aspect is the organic growth that each person’s discarded objects brought to it. One person demolished an old balcony, while another threw out their air conditioner. And somehow this patchwork was unknowingly formed by the people of this city with the essence of time and progress. Yoram also collected materials from Jerusalem’s holy structures that all have such specific and thoughtful architecture. The discarded objects from these places of worship helped create a feeling of respect within the sculpture, like you’re entering a sacred space.
We took these essences and combined them into one amazing piece that represents all the complexities that make Jerusalem what it is today. The structure is symmetrical, made from the shape of a hexagon, which gives the feeling of connecting with one another despite all our differences – a frame in the shape of a Star of David attached to an Arabic arch. The windows are all unique – we have 550 windows from all over Jerusalem, in a variety of shapes, and from all different time periods.
Yoram passed away in March 2019, just 2 months after we started the project, and unfortunately, he never got to see the finished work. Early on in the development, we went with Yoram and his family to the storage warehouse where he had kept his collection and we began to carefully organize all the pieces. Yoram brought with him a bottle of cognac, we toasted one last L’Chaim, and the next day he went into the hospital. I really believe that for Yoram to see his collection being treated with honor and integrity, it gave him the ability to let go. He saw his life’s work laid out front of him, and was ready to say good bye and put it in the hands of the city that he loved.
I want to give a warm thank you to Yoram for putting his trust in Lili and I to bring his life’s work to fruition. Also, a big thank you to our sponsors at Mekudeshet Festival (who also initiated the project), as well as the Jerusalem Municipality through Eden and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Thank you also to Kobi Frig, the producer of this project and a very good friend of Yoram. Together they had the dream of doing something with this amazing collection, and with everyone’s help, we were able to make it happen.
Photo Credit: Daniel Enosh