Curator: Ram Ozeri
Video installation: Marina Abramovic̀
“It took me five years to create this work. I visited numerous Buddhist monasteries in India, and asked monks and nuns to recite the Heart Sutra prayer. When I listened to all of the prayers together, I had a strong feeling that I was in a waterfall.”
This is how Marina Abramović responded to my email telling her about the title chosen for the Jerusalem Biennale 2019: For Heaven’s Sake! I have been in touch with Marina since 2016, hoping that she would agree to participate in the Jerusalem Biennale. I guess she was waiting for the right context.
Waterfall (2003), a 30-minute video depicting 108 Buddhist monks and nuns chanting in meditative abandon, fills the space with a waterfall of sound. Commissioned by representatives of the Dalai Lama, the installation is, in the words of Abramović, “an anahypnotic enviroment “of sounds and images.”
The work provoked an interesting discussion within the Biennale’s advisory committee. The Biennale was founded as a platform for contemporary Jewish art. Although the Biennale does not operate with a clear definition of what contemporary Jewish art is, Waterfall is not an obvious selection: it explicitly presents an non-Jewish practice, the practice of the Other.
Most committee members agreed with the artist’s view that Waterfall fits directly and convincingly under the title “For Heaven’s Sake!”. If the goal of the Biennale is to focus on the motivation for an action rather than the action itself (or its product), Waterfall is the ideal work to do so. Waterfall is presented at JB2019 in the historical swimming pool of the Jerusalem International YMCA. The host venue, as well as the other exhibitions on display there, mark an important component of the Jerusalem Biennale’s mission. Even if the Biennale decides to maintain the conceptual framework of contemporary Jewish art, the journey to explore Jewish identity, culture, experience and values must include and see the Other. Seeing and hearing a spiritual practice, so beautifully portrayed in Waterfall, can and will purify and echo in our own spiritual work. For the sake of the sky. For the sake of Heaven.
Jerusalem International YMCA
Address: 26 King David St.
Sunday- Thursday: 10am-5pm