Photographs by Philip Touitou
Three eighty-year-old olive trees are supported by three steel columns, fifteen meters above the ground. This environmental sculpture, called The Olive Park, on the outskirts of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel sits in what was once no mans land, on the border of the green line with the West Bank.
To its right is a lucrative field of organic cherry trees belonging to the nearby kibbutz and maintained by foreign workers from Thailand. Between the cherry trees and the Olive Park, a narrow road leads to the Palestinian village of Sur Baher on whose lands the cherry trees are now planted.
The park is deserted. I have always been amazed by this major public space placed ironically in one of the most contentious areas of the city. Only five years ago, these olive trees had the mesmerizing view of the single mine-field left by the municipality in place since 1967. If one wonders how the Olive Trees survive, they are connected to an internal drip nozzle irrigation system. I searched on-line for what the artist had in mind and found the following quote “The work deals with concepts of rootedness and disconnection that mark the complex relation of our civilization with the earth …Olive trees, ancient symbol of strength, fertility and peace, continue their life in a transplanted and disconnected state.” ( Ran Morin, Environmental Sculpture.)
I discovered the park about ten years ago, I had a motor bike at the time, and a particular hobby was to ride through unexplored areas of Jerusalem. I was attracted to the seemingly afloat trees from afar, a dramatic view of the desert behind them. It was a hot summer day, and rather late in the afternoon. I drove my scooter on to the dirt road leading to the pillars of concrete. I reached them, and looked around, listening to the crickets and watching the small lizards racing about. I felt I was in the opening chapter of Camus’ “The Stranger”. Then, in the distance behind me, under the Olive Trees I saw a young man. Just like in the book. I must have been standing there for a few minutes when the young man came up behind me. The encounter did not feel particularly friendly, but, as I was studying Arabic at the time, I could think of nothing else to do but try speaking it, Maybe out of embarrassment or having nothing better to say.
RIDM Screening in Montreal. Please come out Montreal friends. We will all be present at the premiere and hope to have an interesting Q@A! Hope to see you there.
Here is the screening information:
16H30 PAVILLON JUDITH JASMIN ANNEXE – SALLE JEAN-CLAUDE LAUZON
We will all be travelling down to NYC on NOV 14th, for the US premiere of P.S Jerusalem at DOC NYC in the viewfinders competition of the festival.
I hear incredible things about this important New York City documentary film festival and I am delighted to premiere P.S Jerusalem at this event.
The first screening which we will all be present will be:
on Saturday Nov 14th at 19:00 – Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema . I hope very much that you can come out on this day. There will be an additional screening at the IFC on Monday the 16th of Nov t 10:30AM.
I am posting here a link to the DOC NYC web site, tickets can be purchased easily on – line.
Hope to see you there!
Montreal friends this Sunday at 13:00 at
UQAM Pavillon Judith Jasmin – 1564 rue St Denis there will be a screening of The Patriarch’s Room. Come and see it if you can its going to be back to 0 degrees outside… after the screening there will be a Q@A. Here is a link to the super dramatic trailer, whomever knows me can guess what the film is like….