Walls have become fashionable for state leaders. A separation wall is currently being built by Israeli forces in the Cremisan Valley, dividing its 19th century Salesian monastery from the landscape. The construction is part of an effort to appropriate lands, primarily from Palestinian farmers, and has been decried by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs and the World Council of Churches as unjust. But despite the forceful words, the wall still rises. In acknowledgement of the ongoing deprivation of Palestinians in the area, Elias and Yousef Anastas have created While We Wait, an installation that celebrates the natural beauty of the Cremisan Valley, and mourns its severing from the eponymous monastery.
The piece invites the viewer to imagine the valley’s landscape – its appearance evoking the smooth stone terraces that shape the land’s topography. Its constituent stone parts are from Palestine, fitting together to form a tall, lattice-like, self-supporting structure that resembles a pastoral temple. Visually porous, viewers can see their surroundings from inside the work, whilst listening to sound and video components that complement the exhibit. The installation was digitally designed, cut by robots and finished by hand by the Anastas brothers. Stereotomy, the art of cutting stones into shape to build larger structures, is central to their work.
Originally on display at Victoria and Albert Museum’s Simon Sainsbury Gallery, While We Wait comes to Concrete, a multidisciplinary public space designed for exhibitions across the spectrum of art, performance and design, making it an ideal location for the intersectional artwork. The exhibit will be accompanied by a curated public programme led by the architects. Designed to be reflective and immersive, the structure exposes the contrast between the beauty of the countryside and the unnatural imposition of the separation wall upon the 1000-year-old olive trees, the hills and the people who inhabit them. After its iterations in London and Dubai, the piece will settle in the Cremisan, where it will become a locus for collective meditation and gathering.
While We Wait will be at Concrete in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, from 6-18 November. Find out more at: www.alserkalavenue.ae
1. Concrete, designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Front Exterior. Image credit: Mohamed Somji. Photo courtesy Alserkal Avenue.