urban ecological sculpture project in cooperation with the Jerusalem Bezalel Art Academy and as part of a residency with the Muslala Urban Art Project.
branches, adobe, plants,
Clal Centre, Jerusalem, 2016
Thoughts along the way:
"Stripping off the bark from the branches I realize that the organism of the tree is a metaphor of the whole earth organism. As it is with our planet, the mineral kernel of each branch is covered by a thin layer of life. How delicate and fragile is this paper-thin, green layer of cambium, how easily it can be damaged! This vulnerable layer carries all the life-supporting saps of the tree - it actually is the living tree. All the rest is dead, mineralized matter, however pleasant to touch. Touching the stripped branches feels like touching bones - indeed the wooden kernel of the tree is its skeleton.
Now I am building a wooden skeleton, within a large building made of huge amounts of mineral matter. But this skeleton is given a shape that bears evidence of movement and life. And eventually it will be covered - again, as it were - by a layer of living, green vegetation. Perhaps this also is a humble metaphor for how human beings can again imbue with life the mineralized environments, which they have created."
The Clal Centre in Jerusalem, which was constructed in the 1960ies, was one of the first shopping centres in Israel. In spite of its interesting design concept, over the years it had become rather dilapidated and run down, until, in 2015, the Muslala Urban Art project ventured to bring a new lease of life into the building. Axel Ewald was invited to create an artwork as part of a four week residency in the summer of 2016. The project started with a interdisciplinary research and design workshop in conjunction with the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem. Students of various departments participated in the 10 day event. The first part of the workshop, which was to familiarize participants with the Clal building and provide the basis for the following design phase, was conducted by resident artist Axel Ewald. In the second phase of the workshop process working groups embarked on the exploration of design proposals, which were presented on the concluding day of the workshop process. Proposals encompassed a wide variety of approaches: sculptural interventions, interior design, graphic design concepts, social networking as well as creative business and marketing strategies.
The proposal of artist Axel Ewald picked up on some of the design proposals, invisaging a growing sculpture as a pilot project for further vegetal installations. A large planting container was built at the base of the elevator shaft, which dominates the central space. In it, a sculptural installation will be constructed out of branches, which, with their naturally twisted shapes, contrast the dominant straight lines of the building and will provide a support for vigorous, flowering, scented climbing plants. This growing green sculpture will be complemented by greenery trailing from planters installed adjacent to the railings of the floors above.
The realization of the project took place on site during the first two weeks of September. It involved the help of many able and willing hands which worked in cooperation with artist Axel Ewald.
many thanks to:
Daphna Yalon, Nadav, Lotem, Galit
Hagai Ptashnik, Daniel, Eitan
production / logistics:
many thanks also to the team of Muslala / HaMirpeset, spontaneous volunteers, advisers and quiet supporters.
A comprehensive documentation of the various phases of the project can be seen at: