Urban Art: Drooping flowers

The city’s NIS 2m. poppy installation is damaged less than two months after dedication.

Vorayda art installation (photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL)
Vorayda art installation
(photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL)
‘Vorayda,” a NIS 2 million art installation unveiled by the Jerusalem Municipality less than two months ago at Haim Valero Square on Jaffa Road opposite Mahaneh Yehuda, has already been seriously damaged by rain, wind, snow and pollution.
The four giant red nylon flowers on metal trunks were dedicated by Mayor Nir Barkat for the first night of Hanukka. Yet already, at least two of the flowers have been ripped apart and tinged with black. Tubes of red nylon meant to hold the edges straight have emerged from the seams and hang limply to the sides; the petals have also been separated – a sad sight.
According to the municipality, the poppy-like “blossoms” – with “Vorayda” being the Kurdish word for flower – open and shut pneumatically under the influence of movement and sound under and around them. Orthodox Jews may not be pleased to learn of the mechanism – as on Shabbat and holidays, individuals’ movement and sounds cause the buds to open and close using an electronically powered blower.
However, the Robbins-Steinmetz public relations office representing the installation claimed that “a timer opens and closes the flowers, not movement and sound” – a contradiction of what the municipality spokesman said.
The installation was designed by the HQ office of architects after it was initiated by the municipality. The city said the installation is part of a project it initiated with the Eden Company to develop Jerusalem’s center; the full project will include 12 “artistic installations” that will be set up along Jaffa Road.
Barkat said at the opening that “the unique project” will create “charming spots full of life” and attract spectators. But when In Jerusalem asked a few dozen passersby about the opening-and-closing poppies, nearly all called them “ugly and a waste of money.”
Funds should instead be spent, they suggested, on playgrounds and gardens.
Asked to comment on the damage the installation had already suffered from the elements, Robbins-Steinmetz said the vendor responsible was “aware” of the damage and was “in the process of fixing it,” though no such evidence was seen on Monday.