Social practice Art project, 2014

HOMELANDS

with artist Mark Požlep (Slovenia)

Homelands, Public Sculpture, video 11’50”, 2014

In collaboration with the Youths of Jesse Cohen Holon

Produced by:

MG ML/City Art Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Israeli Centre for Digital Art, Holon, Israel

Embassy of Slovenia, Israel

11/2013-01/2014

Mark Požlep (1981, Slovenia) is an intermedia artist, in his practice, he tends to go outside of the gallery space and get the public involved within the public space and share with them the experience of the unfamiliar. Creating surroundings and spaces which changes the position of the viewer to a participant. The material for the work usually derelict, waste materials, sometimes taken from different frameworks thus gaining new correlations and being placed in a new sphere. The work process is important, moreover, it's an adventure during which unexpected things can happen.

HOMELANDS began as an ambitious and utopian idea of building a "mountain" with local youth, while Mark Požlep was an artist-in-residence in the Centre for Digital Art in Holon. During November-January 2013-14 began an idea of forming this sculpture/mountain in the backyard of the old “Weizmann school” where the digital art center is now. The thought was that building the mountain will be a unifying factor and a symbol that will embody the idea of a united community and society that stands beyond the categories of gender, age or origin.

Homelands is a compound word that is made up of home and land. A mountain is defined as "a natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which…is impressive or notable.” A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak without one standard or one model. The project showcases an idealistic sculpture of a mountain, four meters high, which is located in the backyard of the Israeli Centre for Digital Art.

The “material” for the construction of the mountain was taken from the ground nearby, meaning shoveled in a circle like digging and moving sand and soil from one side to another making a positive/negative of landforms. The mountain was built in 8 days using only one metal wheelbarrow, a few shovels and hacks and the work of children and youth that came to work, out of their free will and time with a group effort and belief in the idea. The challenge was to get the kids interested in the project, with the help of local community leaders we’ve prepared some presentation where we presented the project that we simply titled “Let’s build a mountain!" the presentation included a slide show of the tallest most beautiful mountains in the nature and introducing man-made mountains for inspiration as seen below:

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The first step was to mark a place where the mountain will be. A pole was set with measurements markings over 4-meter height and the girth of the mountain where it will be made. After spreading the word, the building began and was happening every day within 8 days from noon till evening, dozens of youth came to help after being in the presentation or out of pure curiosity of what's going on. The work that was physically hard and messy was also creative. None of the participants had prior knowledge or experience in building a mountain. With a group effort, after 8 days the 4 meters high mountain was completed. There was no real hierarchy in the work process on the mountain. There was one goal and everyone worked according to the ability and feeling. There was no obligation to participate just an open call. Even though the work was manual labor and looked a bit like mining, an excavation or farm work it also felt like a play: looking for treasure or playing in a sandbox or building castles at the beach.

The duality of the process parallels the outcome which is a work of art / a public sculpture for viewing / a monument / land form / a playground / a meeting point, that will hopefully stay for years. The mountain will stay standing and raise curiosity from people passing by wondering about its sources. Left as a gift  from the builders as a monument for the collaboration and proof of what can be achieved together.


Mountain of love

A collaboration with Maria Lucia Cruz Correia (Portugal) and Mark Požlep.
The performance consisted of a love ritual on the first day of 2014 in Holon, Israel.
Mark and Maria Lucia performed the flower planting of the mountain with seeds brought from Portugal.
Each plant has a symbolic meaning which is connected to love. Besides the seeding, pomegranate has been buried next to the rose and jasmine plants, containing a message with wishes for passion, connection, freedom, creation, honesty, nature, and humanity.

Photos courtesy of Mark Požlep and The Israeli Centre for Digital Art, Holon.

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