The Jerusalem Show
Chapter 3: Intervals
Site-specific drawings: Centre for Jerusalem Studies (Hammam el-Ein and Hammam al-Shifa)
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Will we then come to the realization that our thought has become afterthought, a thought across, to the other side of a lapse?
Intervals are about possibilities: they show that other orders and potentials do exist. They indicate in-between situations and sometimes a lapse with endless prospects and intensities. The unpredictability of their potential always creates a tension between an indefinite process – insignificant and ephemeral – and an expectation, which foreshadows a striking event, yet to come. But we also perceive a sense of order and time only through intervals.
Conor McGrady and Ceren Oykut participate in this chapter with their site-specific drawings, which have been directly applied to the interior walls of Hammam el-Ayn and Hammam el-Shifa. Both hammams will be subject to renovation by Al Quds University within six months: the traces of both artists and their work in these deserted venues will fade away in definite time.
Atlas of Interruptions (2014) by Ceren Oykut compromises of detailed drawings in various sizes, spread across the walls of Hammam el-Shifa. These are mundane and familiar details, extracted from daily life, indicating no information regarding time and space. Through her drawings, she discovers new lands and diverse realities while invoking the sense of trespassing. Once again a city – this time Jerusalem – is not only the setting but also the background of her obscure dreams.
On the other hand, Hammam el-Ayn, which is located across Hammam el-Shifa, Conor McGrady confronts another structure – an uninhabited hammam – with massive drawings. Conor examines architecture as a means of containment and controland this time, and in Peripheral Vision (2014), structure does not only manifest an indication of power and protection, but also an aspiration associated with healing. The work inhabits imageries and architectural indications of other overloadeded power structures, such as prisons, bunkers and military installations.
Once hosting people from all around the world, now these two hammams welcome other perspectives and journeys.
Toufic, Jalal. "Afterthought by the Editor". Lapses/*2 The Book Series of Pavilion of Turkey in the 53rd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennial.Ed. Jalal Toufic. First Vol. IKSV. Istanbul, p. 7 ISBN: 978-975-7363-78-1
Center for Jerusalem Studies - Al Quds University (Hammam el-Ein)
This recent work is focused on the idea of enclosure, and examines architecture as a means of containment and control that operates to affect a sense of social order. An ongoing series of drawings reference structures that are built to enclose, encapsulate or fortify. They refer to the desire for progress on one hand, and the need to repress, exclude, contain or remove on the other. The structures depicted reference the architecture of prisons, bunkers and military installations; dense, constricted spaces that embody the language of armour and operate as literal and metaphorical iterations of ideological enclosure. These works fuse the modernist vision of architecture as an indicator of social progress with that of the military installation. Here, hybrid architectonic structures manifest the language of force, protection and fortification, becoming brutalist enclosures or quasi-monumental edifices that function as receptacles of power, and operate as defensive bulwarks against its loss.
Ibraaz: Please could you tell us about your work showing at The Jerusalem Show.
CM: My project is a series of 11 ink and acrylic graphic wall drawings made directly on the white walls of Hamam Al Ain in the old city. What I was thinking about for this project, was ideas about enclosure, erasure and fortification. The whole idea of looking at architecture as an ideological enclosure. So one of the pieces references a walled garden, so in a way I am looking at the Zionist project as an ideological enclosure, an ideological walled garden to create this mini utopia that based on exclusion and the removal of everything that doesn't fit into that particular narrative. Other pieces include architectural structures, which embody the language of force and intrusion and again, its architecture as an insertion into the landscape that acts as a sort of barrier or fortification or defence mechanism. As much about keeping in, it is about keeping out. And then the last series of drawings reference this idea of erasure and they utilise the architecture of the hamam, to create these blind spots.
It's an incredibly beautiful space, but I didn't want to compete with the architecture, so I am using geometric structures and circular forms to not only reflect the architecture of the hamam, but also to make a comment on the relationship between geometry and social control and geometry and power.
Ibraaz: Do those drawing refer to something real or are they imagined spaces?
CM: Most of them are imagined spaces but one landscape is directly lifted from a view of the West Bank. As an Irish artist, I am very conscious of just arriving here, I not wanting to insert myself here for a week, walk about the place and then leave. In a way, I wanted to look at broader meta-narratives of social control and colonialism and forced removal. Given my own background, being from the North of Ireland, we have a similar historical conflict situation to that of Palestine- colonialism, settlement, removal, division, partition. Even a city like Belfast is currently carved up by 41 walls, obviously not as extreme and volatile as the situation here because we are in a peace process but for me, there is an immediate parallel in terms of how I am experiencing being in this place.
Ibraaz: In terms of your body of work as an artist, is Jerusalem a natural environment in which to situate your practice?
CM: It is, unfortunately, in some ways, because my practice since graduating from college has been concerned with the idea of social control, spatial and bodily control and politics, and how power manifests in architecture, iconography. Coming to a city like Jerusalem where the power dynamics are very clear, it is a natural fit for the concerns I have as an artist.
Atlas of Interruptions
Center for Jerusalem Studies – Al Quds University (Hammam el-Shifa)
Arab Catholic Scouts – Jerusalem
The persistent feeling of trespassing would not fade away. Yet, the riotous will to discover new lands and to explore different lives is always at stake. The more it becomes unreachable, the more you insist.
In the atlas of concealed lands, your voyage starts with daydreaming. Impossible lands with fictive characters and never-ending adventures shape your dreams with overlapping stories waiting to be told. Now, the city is not only the setting, but also the background of obscure dreams.
Ibraaz: Please could you tell us about your work showing at The Jerusalem Show.
CO: My project is entitled Atlas of Interruptions, consists of drawings on the walls of one of the old city's hamams. The project takes its name from the concept of geographical interruptions, but also the interruptions of daily life in this city.
Ibraaz: Could you say a little bit about the specificity of Jerusalem to your work- does it reflect the space? And the significance of being here in Jerusalem.
CO: I didn't have enough time to find the real significance, but I have been working on a project, which examines cartographical interruptions both geographical and mundane and this applies to almost all Middle Eastern geographies. I am always interested in the details in daily life. I wish I had more time here. Being in the space was an effective experience because it changed my engagement with the work.
As for the significance, it means a lot to be here. It is all about trying to erase the borders. As far as I can see, everyone can live together. We always need more time to find the real significance.
Conor McGrady received a BA (Hons.) from the University of Northumbria, UK, and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work examines the relationship between ideology and the politics of spatial control.
He has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Zagreb. Group exhibitions include the 2002 Whitney Biennial in New York; the Biennale of Contemporary Art, D-0 Ark Underground, Sarajevo-Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and IK-00 Spaces of Confinement in Venice. Editor of 'Curated Spaces' in the journal Radical History Review, his writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Ruminations on Violence (Waveland Press, 2007), State of Emergence (Plottner Verlag, 2011) and State in Time (Društvo NSK Informativni Center, Ljubljana, 2012).
As Dean of Academic Affairs at Burren College of Art, he currently lives and works in Burren, Ireland.
Ceren Oykut graduated from the Painting Department at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in 2002.
Oykut's drawings of the city focus on daily life, forming a personal map of her collected experiences. Between 2003 and 2009 she produced many multidisciplinary projects together with visual and sound artists.
Since 2004, Oykut has participated in projects and exhibitions in Turkey, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, France, Poland, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Egypt, Iran and Serbia, and has had solo exhibitions in Istanbul, Köln and Maribor. Her drawings have been used in local and international publications. Oykut has also illustrated several travel books and novels.