S(e)AMENESS
Commissioned Work

Understanding what a border is today and how it is constructed means asking fundamental questions allowing to reformulate the foundations of our relationship with the world we live in.

The project looks at THE BORDER as a visible boundary in constant state of fluctuation; a laboratory, marking the line of encounter between diverse entities, their environment, their traditions and their symbols.

It is on such middle space that the concept of separation transforms into unseen unity and in mutual interdependence, allowing identities to be defined , through the very understanding of where one stands and where one could extend, turning into a physical manifestation of transparent social relations.

By relying on such notions and focusing on Jerusalem as case study, the project incorporates local architectural elements, materials, languages and aesthetics, fusing tradition with standardised modules of separation, while integrating growth and decay for the definition of a hybrid interconnected entity.

The installation comprises two main elements: the limestone tiled flooring and the organic mushroom wall.

The limestone tiles (100 in total) have been produced in the West Bank area, similarly to the majority of the stones forming the homogenised, yet iconic materiality characterising Jerusalem’s architectures. The chance and use of such common, local material clearly references to the over-imposed “sameness” to be found in Jerusalem’s buildings, setting a strong contrast with the real identity of the city, consisting of a number of separated blocks/islands populated by communities with different cultural/religious habits and ideologies. The tiles are engraved with letters and symbols from the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets, used as tools symbolising the fact that language and the mutual understanding of different systems could be the bridge rather than the barrier, for connecting different identities. Something that, despite the many secluded islands, can already be found as part of the everyday reality in the city of Jerusalem, when dialogue or intersections between the different groups take place.

The production of the limestone engraved pieces, which also took place in the West Bank, utilises a technique borrowed from the funeral industry, traditionally implemented for the production of tombstones.

Hence, the theme of death and regeneration is what strongly permeates the project.

Inspired by the “temporary police barriers/walls” constituting the city landscape as permanent solid modules of separation, the project revisits the notions of solidity and  permanence by altering its materiality. The wall, made out of organic materials becomes the point of convergence of different communities and a place from which to harvest, both symbolically and practically. In fact, the organic plant matter forming the individual bricks composing the wall is colonised by selected fungal mycelia. The mycelium, while feeding on and degrading the organic substrates, acts as a living glue, a natural binding agent, giving life to the solid individual bricks and connecting them into a unified mass. In such way, the wall becomes a living entity, growing and fruiting the delicacies of decay, mushrooms. Due to its very nature, after the miracle of fruiting and after the fruits of such encounter have been harvested, the fungi continue to carry on their process of degradation and decay, leading to the desegregation and to the fall of the wall itself that, like every existing thing, reveals to be impermanent and subject to a process of transformation and change.

By playing with the subversion of meanings and the alteration of the states of matter (e.g. rigid/soft, stable/rickety, eternal/temporal, etc.) the project underlines how borders can be looked at as places of encounter between people, identities and cultures, reflecting on the fact that there’s no real need or reason for their existence on both a physical or mental level.

because in the end…
“ALL THAT IS SOLID MELTS INTO AIR”

S(e)AMENESS is a collaborative project between Officina Corpuscoli and Rami Tareef, commissioned
by curators Tal Erez and Anat Safran and presented during Jerusalem Design Week 2017.