A gigantic severed head wearing a ski mask lies on the floor of a concrete room where old gun slits from Jewish-Arab battles of years gone by are enclosed in glass as reminders of bloodshed past.
That’s what curator Raphie Etgar tries to do in the “Beyond Memory” exhibition at the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem. He wants to force you to remember: Sept. 11, the Holocaust, and even the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 that killed as many as 100,000 of the city’s 250,000 inhabitants.
“Take notes from the history of the world. These things have happened and we need to use this knowledge to prevent the catastrophe of the future,” he says while looking around the displays.
Museum on the Seam, which is located where the Israeli and Jordanian checkpoint between west and east Jerusalem used to exist, is a sociopolitical, contemporary-art museum whose goal is to raise controversial social issues for public discussion.
“Beyond Memory” has opened as tension mounts in the Mideast over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran, at loggerheads with the U.S. and its allies over the issue, faces growing pressure as international economic, financial and energy measures pile up against the country. A European ban on Iranian crude-oil imports is set to begin on July 1.
The exhibition opens with a large panoramic photograph of Ground Zero by Wim Wenders, “New York, November 8, 2001, IV.” It’s displayed alongside Samuel Rousseau’s multimedia “Brave Old New World (No. 3),” which creates what appears to be a three-dimensional spaceship as a future home for a mankind whose traditional world may be destroyed. The show also features works by artists including Christian Boltanski, Bill Viola, Shilpa Gupta, Tacita Dean, Thomas Ruff and Cyprien Gaillard.
The concrete head was created by Erez Israeli to demonstrate bereavement resulting from terror, wars of survival, religious battles and extreme nationalism. It lies at the end of a corridor, which opens with an installation of photographs of children that hover over piles of closed drawers representing their memories. “These children, of course, were killed in the Holocaust,” says Etgar.
“The exhibition hopes to prick your subconscious, to make you think, ‘I’ve been there and am not scared to say I’ve seen these things and maybe this is a warning for me and the future,’” he says.
“Beyond Memory” runs through Sept. 1 at Museum on the Seam, 4 Chel Handasa St., Jerusalem. Information: http://www.mots.org.il/Eng/Index.asp.
Today’s Muse highlights include: John Mariani on wine, Jeremy Gerard on theater.