Jerusalem proved to be full of surprises that will stay with me forever. I walked into James Turrell’s “Space That Sees” at the Israel Museum of Art with a new friend I met at The Arthur Hotel in Jerusalem. I could be in a pyramid, a mausoleum, or a temple from this creation by Turrell, who is known for spaces with openings in the ceilings or walls and edges so thin that it looks like there’s no separation between them and our sky. Turrell has the ability to seduce people into paying attention to the present, to find gratification from staring at the sky for long periods of time. While observing the sky through this profoundly simple work of art, I was feeling a deep connection to my surroundings in Israel. There is an acute sense of Jewishness here, a spiritual connection between land and soul. I belong.
We sat on the concrete and limestone and within moments of arriving, a siren started, commemorating Israel’s Memorial Day. Everyone in the space stood simultaneously, no one moved an inch and I felt the stirrings of my father’s past come up inside me. The tears are healing. There is a desolation in traveling that is soul crushing yet I imagined my father getting on a boat called General Blachford, alone, crossing the Atlantic from Germany, not knowing the language where he was heading, without any money, or a friend in the world and I am filled with and energized by his fearlessness and bravery. So while fear is an obstacle for most people, it is an illusion for me. I’m never alone for too long for G-d is in my heart and always seems to put wonderful souls into my path. I was also moved by the friendly, caring spirit of my new found friend who lives in Rome, that I met in Jerusalem.
The others left the space shortly thereafter the ending of the siren, clearly planning to be in the space for that event, while ours was a serendipitous moment, simply divine synchronicity followed by a meditative experience, laying on the ground together, looking up to the heavens imaging saints and thanking the angels for making this magic occur.
Situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem is the Israel Museum, one of the leading art museums in the world. These works of art in particular, made me take notice and moved me. If something moves me, I like to photograph it. If something causes me pain, I photograph it. Art is meant to provoke feelings; good or bad. As I continue to wander through Israel, I feel alive. I find myself by getting lost.
This is Adi Nes’ version of the “Last Supper”. There are fourteen young Israeli soldiers sitting and standing at a long table in a bullet-pocked desert barracks. His photos are elaborately staged, often homoerotic, with macho Israeli soldiers featured.
“I wanted to express the idea that in Israel, death lingers. Death is being foreshadowed in most of these pictures,” says Nes, standing in front of his huge “Untitled” (1999), which was inspired by Leonardo’s “Last Supper.”
Israelis, he says, “are dying not only in combat, but in their daily activity — from bombs on buses, suicide bombers in restaurants. The moment you serve as a soldier, you choose to give yourself over to the society, to the army, to someone else. You have to take the possibility you’re going to die. Here, I tried to incorporate the idea that this supper may be the last for any of them, not just Jesus. All of them are Jesus, all of them are Judas, ” adds Nes, whose pictures, with their attention to detail and dramatic contrast of light and shadow, are composed with an eye toward Caravaggio.