“Total Care”A commissioned exhibition from Hansen House, Jerusalem - a collaboration with Shir Senior
Since time immemorial, stones – and especially the stones of Jerusalem – have always silently absorbed the stories told about them. From the Foundation Stone to the stones of the Western Wall – the stones of Jerusalem were always larger than their material dimensions suffused with longings and surrounded by stories and ceremonies. The stone floor under your feet once served as a safe support for patient beds, and later for workers and visitors. It was gradually smoothed over by decades of continuous use, remaining strong in the face of the city’s vicissitudes. At present, it continues to support a great number of activities. The space is filled with machines charged of cleaning the floor. Each of them was especially designed for the stones it strokes, and tailored to caressing it continuously.
The repetitive, meticulous actions performed by groups of metallic “stick insects” are reminiscent of swarming creatures – or perhaps of a cutting-edge robotic choreography. The function is simple: touching the stones, cleaning them, caring for them. Their intimate, insistent caress peels off layers of dust and time, excavating and removing delicate organic materials. The machines prevent dirt from accumulating, while vigorously polishing the stone floor. With every layer that is removed, the site’s complex layers of history dissipate as well.
If we do not stop cleaning, things will never get dirty. If we keep cleaning forever, what will happen to the dust? Will the floor stones wear down to the point of disappearing, or will the machines fall apart before completing their mission? Cleaning dominates every area of our life. Yet what do we lose when we scrub so vigorously? What happens when one caresses too hard?
This work was created as a sequel to “Stroking Time,” exhibited at Jerusalem Design Week 2022, as part of an ongoing research project that intimately observes and responds the stones and their trajectory in regional Jerusalem.
[exhibition, stone, heritage, jerusalem]