Canvassing calls for peace

The word peace has become a kind of obsession for the artist, who is often busy writing the letters again and again, in different languges and in different styles and sizes.

dove88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Just over a year ago, Marek Halter, the renowned French Jewish author and philosopher, a Holocaust survivor originally from Warsaw, spent a week in the city. Halter, who counts many of the world's most prominent leaders as his closest friends, comes to Israel frequently. And even when he is here on a purely private visit, he is, he says, "always on a journey to help promote peace in the region." It was last year that he had the occasion to meet Mayor Uri Lupolianski. Jerusalem's first haredi mayor and the sophisticated French writer who had been rescued from the ghetto readily enjoyed each other. Halter told a talmudic legend, Lupolianski added some midrash - and a genuine Jewish encounter ensued. Halter then told the Mayor about his wife, Clara, a world renowned sculptress, and asked if Jerusalem could find a place to exhibit her works. With a smile, Lupolianski said that he and the city would be honored - but in his mind, he had already begun to try to figure out where he would find the money for this novel idea. Sensing the problem, Halter immediately, yet delicately, added, "And of course, it will not cost the citizens of Jerusalem even one cent." Lupolianski's smile broadened and Halter returned to Paris to prepare. He'll be back next week, when the city of Jerusalem will host Clara Halter's most recent work, Tents for Peace, dedicated, as most of her previous works have been, to world peace. After Paris, St. Petersburg and Hiroshima, Clara Halter brings her vision to the city whose name means peace but has known few days of peace, especially in the past century. The Peace Tents will be displayed on the Haas Promenade in Armon Hanatziv from May 17 through May 25. The installation consists of a series of tents and a gigantic canvas, on which the word "peace" has been printed in 50 different languages, using 18 different fonts. Within the Peace Tents, a video screen will broadcast messages of peace from around the world, which will also be posted on the Web site (, allowing the visitors to receive the peace messages. Visitors will also be invited to write their own messages on a large piece of fabric inside the tents or to post them on the Web. The canvas, 160 m. long and 70 m. wide, will be installed below, on the promontory of Abu Tor that overlooks the city. Halter told In Jerusalem she derives her inspiration for the tents from the tent in which Moses put the Ten Commandments while the Children of Israel wandered through the desert after escaping from Egypt. She says that her need to contribute to the "peace business" has become clearer and stronger over the past few years. She recalled that when then-French president Jacques Chirac was invited to the inauguration of her "Wall for Peace," which was loosely inspired by the Western Wall, on the Champ de Mar in Paris, he said that "perhaps peace is not in the nature of human beings." "So maybe it is the job of culture and the artist to bring it to their nature," Halter thought. Indeed, the word peace has become a kind of obsession for the artist, who is often busy writing the letters again and again, in different languages and in different styles and sizes, until, as she declared to her friends, "the word peace in its haunting beauty will impose itself upon the earth." The project is part of the "Voila Project," the French Season in Israel organized by the Association Francaise d'Action Artistique and is supported by numerous French philanthropic foundations, with the collaboration of Agnes b. Ariel, Baron David de Rothschild, the European Jewish Congress, the Jerusalem Foundation, Merieux Laboratories, L'OREAL, Orange, Publicis Consultants, Strauss Elite Group and Waterloo.