Art in Jerusalem: Roger's ratios and rhythms

geoglyphs 88 (photo credit: )
geoglyphs 88
(photo credit: )
In Jerusalem when you sculpt, it is not just the application of a skill, it's an affair of the heart." So says world-renowned Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers, who completed his latest sculpture, called Ratio, on Sunday on a small triangle of land between the soccer stadium and the Malha Mall. The sculpture is made from 32 limestone blocks, each weighing about 1.5 tons. The edges of each block are gilded, so that the sculpture will shine with the morning and evening sun. The stones of the sculpture are modeled after the rough square stones of the bottom portion of the Western Wall. The Jerusalem sculpture is part of a project to install 12 sculptures across the globe. A larger version of Ratio already is in place in the Arava Desert. Except for Israel, each location is a UNESCO world heritage site. The design of the sculpture is based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula that describes many patterns found in nature, such as the number of petals in a daisy and the exponential proliferation of rabbits. The proportions of the piece were chosen according to the Golden Ratio, a ratio derived from the Fibonacci sequence that is supposed to be highly pleasing to the human eye. The Golden Ratio is found in many art pieces, from the art of the ancient Greeks to Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces. And now it can be found near the Malha Mall. Rogers thinks Ratio, which is much squarer than most of his sculptures, is well-suited to Jerusalem. "The sculpture explains a universally accepted mathematical sequence, so it is appropriate that it is in a city that is somewhat universal in its conception of religions," said Rogers. The vaguely flame-shaped sculpture weighs about 50 tons. It is 5.5 meters long, 2 meters deep, and at its center reaches four meters. Ratio is the smallest of Rogers' worldwide installations. In addition to Rogers himself, approximately 18 workers and architecture students assembled the piece. It took four and a half working days to complete. But according to Rogers, coming up with the idea behind the sculpture is more difficult than the execution. "I always believe that the message is as important as the form. The conception is hard, the design is not so difficult." The New Jerusalem Foundation originally commissioned the work as part of a sculpture festival. The festival was postponed, but private funds were raised to complete the quarter-million shekel work of art. Some of these funds have been allotted for landscaping surrounding the sculpture as well as for the maintenance and care of the sculpture in the future. The new landscaping between the soccer stadium and the Malha Mall will be complete in about a month's time, when a group of Dutch Christians for Israel are expected to arrive bearing tulips as a goodwill gesture towards Jerusalem. Some of the tulips will be planted near the sculpture. Rogers, a businessman/painter turned sculptor, has a long-standing interest in Israel. Three of his geoglyphs - sculptures made from the natural land that surrounds them - are in the Arava Desert. One of these, To Life, created in 1999, displays the Hebrew word for life spelled out in giant stone letters, 38 meters long. Another of his sculptures, called Rhythms of the Metropolis is on display at Hebrew University. In 1998, Rogers was artist in residence at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa.