Jerusalem Day festivities, like all our national events, frequently tend to take
on an official, if not officious, guise. But Emmanuel Witzthum is not only
offering us a highly visual and aurally striking celebration of our nation’s
capital, he’s feeding off a definitively grass roots, nay street level,
On Thursday (8 p.m.) and Friday (2 p.m.), The Lab artistic
director Witzthum will oversee the ‘Dissolving Localities’ DJ-VJ event at the
Yaffo 23 gallery in Jerusalem. Witzthum has certainly put together some heavy
artillery for the occasion with the artistic lineup including German multimedia
artist Thomas Köner, Frenchborn Berlin-resident musician Kangding Ray and some
of our own leading interdisciplinary artists, including Avi Belleli, Rea
Mochiach, Arik Futterman, Moran Guttman and Witzthum himself.
evidently looking to provide the public with a mesmerizing, pan-sensory
experience designed to encapsulate the very essence of Jerusalem’s multifaceted
“There are several strata to the project,” explains
“The first is the connection between the urban environment and
people in general and artistic creation. The second level is to dissolve the
whole concept of what comprises a city. As an artist I look at this from the
point of view of there being no separation between the audience or the place in
which I perform and my artistic creation.”
With regard to the cultural
excursion in hand Witzthum says that means getting out there, and down and
“We went out to record every part of the city – Mahaneh Yehuda,
Nahlaot, Me’a Shearim, the Old City, you name it – making video and sound field
recordings. We compiled sound banks which are really a library.”
the notion of just hitting the street with recording apparatus, and capturing
random sights and sounds, may seem a bit chaotic there is more method to this
artistic expedition than first meets the eye and/or ear.
“There are five
sections to the work,” Witzthum continues.
“The first is nature, then
people, industry, religion and the last which is a collage of everything –
everything together which create the city.”
Nature, says the artistic
director, includes the city’s parks, gardens and chirping feathered friends. The
people section incorporates sounds and sights from common or garden venues such
as cafés, the street and the shuk, while the industrial slot features such
mundane elements as garages, cars, tractors and building
Naturally, Jerusalem does not want for religious content, and
Witzthum and his fellow artists have captured the video and audio evidence of
synagogues of various ethnic colors, the bells of the YMCA, wailing muezzins,
the chants of the different Christian sects which populate the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre to mention but a few.
The next stage is to take all of the
above and mix them into a heady audio-visual concoction through the artistic
expertise and orientation of half a dozen multimedia artists.
ACROSS-the-board artistic experience at Yaffo 23 will be enhanced by the
physical logistics at the venue. The audience will sit or lie on cushions, bean
bags and rugs in the center of the room while the artists work their magic from
stations, consoles and musical instruments strategically positioned in the
corners and all the walls. There will also be four large screens on which the
mixed and mingled images of the city will be projected.
As good as the
raw material may be you’ve still got to do something interesting with
“There is a very varied team of artists here,” says
“Köner is very strong in field recordings and he does more
atmosphere- oriented music while the French artist engages more in
Then there’s Avi Belleli, from Nikmat Hatractor, Rea Mochiach, 2
VJs and I do live sampling.”
Naturally, with such a large and wideranging
artistic arsenal on board, especially given the free flowing nature of the
venture, mayhem could reign.
Witzthum has arranged the work so that each
artist takes the lead at different points in the evolutionary
“Each artist will do something different but it will be like an
orchestra,” he says.
“What is important in this work is that each artist
leads but also listens to the others.”
Sounds like a metaphor on life and
one which, if it could be applied successfully in real life, could make life a
lot more peaceful in our fair capital city.
While the multimedia
professionals and musicians are the frontmen and women in this venture Witzthum
says it is the city and the Jerusalemites themselves who are at the core of the
“This is the first time that Jerusalem and the people in it have
been used not as the subject of the work. In fact the people, the daily life,
are the work.
Jerusalem and the people in it are like a piano which we,
the artists, play. Take a car and a Tunisian synagogue, for example, and you get
a piano chord.
“Jerusalem has never sounded like this
before,” says Witzthum.
Later this month Witzthum will take Jerusalem on
the road, with the project due to be performed at the prestigious Future en
Seine alternative venue in Paris on June 24. Witzthum will also deliver a
lecture at the event, entitled Urban Space and the Prosumer - The Future of
Artistic Creation? For more information about Dissolving Localities: (02)
629-2001. Tickets cost NIS 20.