Jerusalem

George Sfougaras
11 months ago

The works included in this album are inspired in part by a residency in Jerusalem in 2020 and in part by the symbolism of the word. To me, Jerusalem feels both timeless and anachronistic. Timeless because of the symbolic significance of our shared human history in this city and anachronistic because it is this same history that has contributed to the current impasse between the Palestinians and the Israelis; three if we count the dubious role of Christianity's claim to the city and a multitude if we take into account all the sects within the latter faith.  By extension, I see the word 'Jerusalem' as indicative of a search for meaning and identity.  Therefore some of the pieces here refer to my actual experiences of and in the city of Jerusalem and others refer to my own more personal search. 

There is always the tension between affirming our political position powerfully through our art, or, responding with all the honesty and integrity we can, to produce work that opens the door to further dialogue between sides. 

I am drawn to the following quote by Karen Armstrong, from her book  'Jerusalem One City Three Faiths' :

“One thing that the history of Jerusalem teaches is that nothing is irreversible. Not only have its inhabitants watched their city destroyed time and again, they have also seen it built up in ways that seemed abhorrent. When the Jews heard of the obliteration of their Holy City, first by Hadrian's contractors and then by Constantine's, they must have felt that they would never win their city back. Muslims had to see the desecration of their beloved Haram by the Crusaders, who seemed invincible at the time. All these building projects had been intent on creating facts, but ultimately bricks and mortar were not enough. The Muslims got their city back because the Crusaders became trapped in a dream of hatred and intolerance. In our own day, against all odds, the Jews have returned to Zion and have created their own facts in the settlements around Jerusalem. But, as the long, tragic history of Jerusalem shows, nothing is permanent or guaranteed. The societies that have lasted the longest in the holy city have, generally, been the ones that were prepared for some kind of tolerance and coexistence in the Holy City. That, rather than a sterile and deadly struggle for sovereignty, must be the way to celebrate Jerusalem's sanctity today.”
― Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths