Paradise Inn (The Model) by Itamar Mendes-Flohr and Sala-manca
On Paradise Inn Hotel (model)
curated by Yaakov Israel, in the frame of “Autarkic Economy”, Hansen House, September-October 2017
Since its founding, Sala-Manca has wandered between places, stemming from the perception that the “center”, as the compasses manufacturer Arturo Maura said, “is everywhere and the circle nowhere”. At their debut, the Argentina House served as their base and in 2009 they have established Mamuta at the Daniela Pasal center for Media Arts in Ein Karem, where they have started The Museum of the Contemporary project. At the end of 2013 they relocated to Hansen’s House and continued Mamuta’s activity as a center for arts and research. The Maquette for Paradise Inn – a one person hotel deals with the history of Hansen House. Building the model is another artistic step in a series of research-based projects that creates a contemporary context to local history, characterizing many of the art works being done in the frame of Mamuta. The model is the next phase to the building of a hotel on a large area of the Hansen House garden called Paradise Inn – a one person hotel – a project presented to the public during the summer of 2015. The hotel was an artistic venture designed by Nir Yahalom and Sala-Manca as part of the activities of The Ethnographic Department (another on-going project they initiated), which deals with historical aspects of Hansen House and its past as a lepers hospital. In the past, the garden that surrounded Hansen house and the wall became an enclave in the Jerusalem reality, and contributed much to its image as a phantasmagorical space, where many myths and urban legends evolved. The basic urge of human curiosity has been embedded in the planning of the hotel, so one wall was built from blinds that open for only eight seconds in return for a payment of three Shekels, enabling a glimpse inside where the viewers were exposed to the natural vegetation that shielded the inside of the hotel. This aroused the voyeuristic passion of the visitors and strengthened the narrative of the garden as a magical space. Hansen House’s main porch was another viewpoint inside the hotel’s domain, but also very partial, so the viewer was left unfulfilled, looking inside the forbidden space yet seeing nothing. Sala-Manca Group, through a curatorial approach, chose to reflect on their previous project Paradise Inn. They invited the artist Itamar Mendes-Flohr to reproduce a model of Paradise Inn and to translate his experience in the Garden of Eden into a 3D object. Paradise Inn’s maquette represents a double mention to Hansen House’s past. The first is direct, looking at the way the garden and the wall were used to strengthen the many narratives on Hansen House and its area. The second one creates a continuation to the project Paradise Inn – A One Person Hotel, whose building and presentation were a reference to these historical elements. The act of gazing inside encourages the viewer to develop imaginary narratives about the different scenarios inside the enclosed garden. Conceiving the model and the use of it to look at the history of the place turns to a performative act done especially for this exhibition, where Sala-Manca members take the role of historiographs. Thus, metaphorically, they examine the way the historical story is told, through the way they choose to tell and interpret the well-known narratives. This format offers a new way to rewrite history: their artistic action diverts historiography from the written word and places the narrative in the object. The act of looking at the model, confronts the viewer with the historical layer of Hansen House and an array of possibilities to interpretate these overlaping layers.