Nira Pereg, Avraham Avraham, 2012, Hebron. Courtesy of the Braverman Gallery, J. Art collection and the artist

"Avraham Avraham" and "Sarah Sarah" – Nira Pereg

According to Jewish tradition, Abraham and Sarah were the first Jews and the parents of the Jewish people. All Jews, whether they were born Jewish or are converts, are considered to be the Children of Abraham and Sarah.

Video artist Nira Pereg explores the interaction between Jewish and Muslim worship at the Cave of the Patriarchs. This cave according to the Bible in Genesis, was purchased by Abraham as a burial place for Sarah. Abraham was also the father of Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation.

Video artist Nira Pereg filmed the moments when the prayer hall in the Cave of the Patriarchs (Cave of the Machpelah) changes from Muslim to Jewish and vice versa, and photographer Jono David chose to aim his lens at the renewal of Jewish identities in Africa.

“Abraham Abraham” and “Sarah Sarah” were filmed at the Cave of the Patriarch, also known as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron. Holy both to Muslims and Jews, the Cave has long been a place of controversy and violence. These works portray the results of this explosive situation, and describe the “status quo” that regulates use of the Cave and is administered by the Israeli Defense Forces.

“Abraham Abraham” (2012), documents the preparations for a day of “Islamic exceptionalism”. For 24 hours, Jews are prohibited from the Cave and the usually Jewish area of worship is temporarily transferred to Islamic control. “Sarah Sarah” (2012), describes a parallel day of “Jewish exceptionalism”, when the Islamic area of the Cave is evacuated for Jewish use.

These two films are mirror images. They were shot within a few months of each other. They are exactly the same length and share an identical structure. Both focus on the opening of the door that connects and divides the Muslim and Jewish areas of the Cave.

These works depict the parallels and the cyclical uses of this holy sight. But the repeated temporary evacuations are not examples of religious co-existence. Instead, these films show each group of worshippers removing, hiding and locking away their religious objects and furniture before the other group takes over the space. Not even a single chair is left for the others to use. Synchronized soundtracks highlight the power struggles, hidden beneath these temporary evacuations and illustrate the strange but inevitable symbiosis between religion and military, between civilians and soldiers.

Sun-Thu: 10am-7pm ; Fri: 9am-2pm; Saturday: closed

Second Floor

Opened: 4.2.2016

On display until June 1st, 2017

Curators: Amitai Achiman, Asaf Galay