TEMPLE MOUNT, 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
This show began with the story of one controversial rock, a contested relic which carries the symbolic weight of national identity, religious yearnings and conflicts through the ages. The rock is situated under the golden dome, at the site of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Over the centuries this rock has become the subject of many myths and beliefs, for both Jews and Muslims.
This rock and the mountain on which it resides are two of the main reasons Jerusalem is considered holy by both religions. From well before the time of the exhibition and to this day, the Dome of the Rock remains one of the biggest points of contention between the city’s two populations. Some would say that it is actually one of the chief hurdles to achieving lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
In my show, I simulated what would happen had this rock been lifted and carried away. I wished to raise a question: What would take up its place in the absence?
I had also created my own rocks out of the gravel that covers the ground at the Israel
Museum’s outdoor Billy Rose Sculpture Garden, which is home to artifacts from different eras and cultures. By creating this installation, I wished to trigger the collective memory so closely associated with rocks: The rocks Palestinians hurled during the First Intifada, which took place two years prior to the exhibition, as well as the rocks that make up iconic places of worship throughout the country.
I invited show-goers to throw this gravel, which was made of fragments of rocks, at an eye-shaped tambourine that was hung high up in front of them. Viewers who interacted had joined me in the process of dissolving the ethos at the core of the places we have come to hold so fundamental.