Underneath the arches

The New Gallery, located beneath Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, is an unusual venue with an equally unusual exhibition space.

dalit art 88 298 (photo credit: )
dalit art 88 298
(photo credit: )
The New Gallery, located beneath Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, is an unusual venue with an equally unusual exhibition space. It is also home to half a dozen artists and animators lucky enough to have studios there at a nominal rent (paid to the municipality; there is a waiting list of 60) . The gallery, run without support by the indefatigable Hedva Shemesh, is currently host to Lost Spaces, a joint work by Eldad Shaltiel and Dalit Sharon, both originally trained at Bezalel. Their piece de resistance is a hefty lead and glass sculptural installation that evokes a stadium in a state of collapse, wrecked perhaps by a gigantic bomb or the moral collapse brought about by the tribal/cultural battles that have been fought there. Stadiums have not changed much in two millennia, either in format or as venues for entertainment. In the days long before TV, the Roman formula of bread and circuses (arenas) saw free bread flung into the crowds before the gladiators fought each other, Christians were offered to prides of lions and Hebrew princes won chariot races (at least in Hollywood movies). Today, though, every Israeli supporter has a TV set, team fans stream to stadiums (and more modest soccer fields) to root for their team and shower vituperation on the opposition. Soccer stadium violence in Britain and Europe has become particularly nasty since World War II. It is also pretty rough here. What could be nastier than a crowd of Jews shouting "Death to the Arabs"? A match at Sakhnin is documented in a multiple video screen installation that forms part of the exhibit. The sculpture itself looks daunting at first, but the more you circumnavigate it, the more interesting it becomes. Its symbolic lead rows of seating are distorted by their own weight. But paradoxically enough, its still upright columns are made from layers of a much more brittle and potentionally weaker material: sheet glass. Another feature of this show are framed drawings by both artists. Dalit Sharon's carefully delineated architectural drawings depict the actual inner structure and "lost space" beneath the stadium's seating, while Eldad Shaltiel's three excellent monotone compositions capture the rhythm of the stadium's curves without directly referring to them. Here, the non-literal image itself is the real subject. One of this trio in particular is a superbly composed abstraction. The weighty memento mori sculpture was created in situ. What will happen to it when the show closes? If only it could be seen by the fans who flock to the Teddy stadium, presented together with an appeal, something along the lines of: show a little respect for the other side; one day it might rub off on them, too. A LIMESTONE sculpture entitled "Ratio" has been installed by Australian artist Andrew Rogers opposite the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem. Located near the footpath at the traffic light leading to the stadium, it is virtually invisible to drivers concentrating on making the turn in and out of the stadium area. Some 4.5 meters high by five meters in width, the approximately 46 tons of stone are smoothly cut in square-section rectangular slabs and stacked in a Fibonacci Sequence, the same sequence employed by Rogers when setting up his gigantic stone "Ratio" in the Arava a few years ago. The stone slabs are also slightly staggered in relation to each other and roughly chiselled at both ends. These ends are also lined with gold paint and are more interesting texturally than the rather over-slick sides of the slabs. The sculpture has a no-nonsense presence but is a bit simplistic. The Fibonacci effect works at all scales, even very small ones, but is barely experienced in small number units and thus hardly discerned here. Only as the series expands do the gaps between the numbers increase in size and drama. Leonardo Fibonacci (1175-1250) was the son of a Pisan merchant who travelled throughout Algeria and made business trips to Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence. In the year 1200 he returned to Pisa and wrote Liber abaci, in which he introduced Europe to the decimal system. Fibonacci is best known for his discovery of his eponymous series of numbers, which begins with 0 and 1. Adding the previous two numbers gives you the next one: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, etc. This logarithmic series can be found in growth sequences throughout nature and was subsequently used in the composition of architecture, music and painting. It is linked with the golden section and is dramatically described in the expanding spiral of the nautilus shell. It also controls everything from the distribution pattern of seeds and leaf and petal forms to the expansion of animal horns. There's nothing mystical about all this. It's simply nature's way of bringing order and beauty to what would otherwise be chaos. There would be no evolution without it. To view the sculpture, park opposite the stadium and walk to the traffic light; the work is immediately to your right.