On the architecture of the ephemeral: The Eternal Sukkah of the Jahalin tribe, by Diego Rotman

Leading up to the 2014 festival of Sukkot, the Sala-Manca Artists’ Group, directors of the Mamuta Art and Media Centre at Hansen House, decided to create a public sukkah on the Hansen grounds as a temporary dwelling for its activities during the holiday. Rather than constructing an extravagant or innovatively designed sukkah, Sala-Manca, together with Itamar Mendes-Flohr and Yeshayahu Rabinowitz, chose to delve into the sukkah’s charged meaning in the Israeli context and to highlight the temporary nature of the structure and its associations with exile, thus evoking connotations related not only to Jewish history but also to the current Israeli context and proposing a contemporary reading of the sukkah, both as a concrete object and as a symbol. A structure from the Jahalin Bedouin community, refugees from the Negev (Israel) on the Jerusalem-Jericho Road, is therefore purchased, dismantled, and reassembled on the grounds of the Hansen House. This article discusses The Eternal Sukkah project in its historic, political, and cultural context, and in the context of the history of Israeli art. I deal with the relations between the Jewish festival of Sukkot, Bedouin architecture, and Israeli ethno-politics, as expressed in this project in which I was also involved as artist.

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