Entering the latest installation at the Jerusalem Artists' House is an exercise in sensory confusion. After parting the heavy drape covering the threshold, the room's minimal lighting creates a momentary blackout before the eyes adjust. Even when your vision returns, there's not much to see. The small gallery space is empty, and the floor is covered wall-to-wall with seemingly unremarkable gray cinder blocks. The first step onto them, however, is a whole different type of disorientation. Underneath the cement floor is a subsurface of a spongy material that gives a few inches under your weight. The result is like walking on a concrete trampoline. To maintain equilibrium, the viewer needs to pay constant attention to balance.
The cinder blocks used in the installation are the same kind employed in the urgent construction of Israeli and Palestinian settlements in places like the West Bank. The all-too-familiar material's unlikely behavior succeeds in shaking the viewer's perception. Hushed voices are piped through the room and hover at the point of audibility. One of the walls has a film projection showing human forms in motion. The video's foreground has black silhouettes that appear as though someone is walking through the light beam. As I was the only visitor at the time, it added to a general mood of uneasiness.
Noa Nahari is a graduate of the School of Arts and Technology, Tel Aviv. "Side Walk" is her first solo exhibition, which an Artists' House employee mentioned would make its way to the 2009 Venice Biennale.
The Jerusalem Artists' House is located in an elegant, 19th-century Ottoman Turkish building. Since 1965, they've shown the work of both local and international artists. The building has five gallery rooms, a restaurant and shop (pictured), which is littered with work collected from the the hundreds of artists to come through. They are sponsored by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli state, and represent more than 500 juried Israeli artists. They show both upcoming and established artists, as evidenced by their other current exhibitions: a career retrospective of Yitzhak Greenfield and photographs from Arnon Toussia-Cohen.