Nira Pereg, Abraham Abraham et Sarah Sarah, Hébron, Cisjordanie, 2012
© Nira Pereg, avec l’aimable autorisation de la galerie Braverman, Tel-Aviv
Prix Maratier 2013
Video installation, Hebron, West Bank, 2012 – Two films: 4 min. 25 sec.
Abraham Abraham and Sarah Sarah were filmed in 2012 in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Al-Khalil), the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. The Tomb of the Patriarchs, Ma-arat Hamachpelah (“Cave of the Double Tombs” in Hebrew) is the second holiest place of Judaism. Tradition has it that Abraham and Sarah and their descendants Isaac and Rébecca and Jacob and Lea were buried there.
Known as Haram Ibrahim (Santuary of Abraham) in Arabic, the site, with Medina, Mecca and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is one of the holy places of Islam.
In 1967, after the Six-Day War and the seizure of Hebron by the Israeli army, the status of the Tomb of the Patriarchs was changed to enable Jews to share this place of worship with Muslims. The tomb complex is now under Muslim jurisdiction, with the Israeli army maintaining a presence. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish religious fanatic, entered the mosque and opened fire on Muslim worshippers, killing 29 and wounding 125. The Israeli government condemned the massacre and divided the site into two separate spaces: 80% was allotted to a mosque and 20% to a synagogue.
But for twenty days a year, for certain religious festivals, Jews and Muslims have exclusive use of it for 24 hours. Abraham Abraham follows one of these “changing of hands”, during the Muslim festival of Lailat al Barat. In only a few hours, the Jewish space is emptied of its liturgical objects, inspected by the army then left empty for a short interval before administrators of the Waqf (the Muslim authority in charge of places of worship) bring their own objects and transform the empty room into a mosque for 24 hours. Sarah Sarah was filmed for the reading of the parashah, the section of the Torah recounting Abraham’s negotiations to purchase a burial place for his wife Sarah. For this event it is the entire Muslim space that is emptied of its liturgical objects, inspected by the army then briefly left vacant before the Jews bring their own objects and transform it into a synagogue for 24 hours. Nira Pereg recorded these transformations and made two films, shown opposite one another. Their montage and sophisticated soundtracks transform the event into a quasi-theatrical performance.
Nira Pereg was born in Tel Aviv in 1969. She trained at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, and at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. She received the Prix Maratier 2013, awarded by the Fondation Pro Mahj, who published a catalogue in French.
- Nicolas Bourriaud, director of the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
- Joseph Cohen, philosopher, lecturer at University College, Dublin
- Raphael Zagury-Orly, philosopher, director of the fine arts masters degree course at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem