Last week, I took a walk down Mamilla Avenue, my favourite shopping mall (insofar as I can be said to have a favourite shopping mall, since I actually hate shopping). I had birthday presents to buy and the Mamilla open air mall has, at least, the advantage of a constantly changing outdoor sculpture exhibition, full of quirky, colourful exhibits.
The subject of the current exhibition was Satire and Humour. Those of you who fancy a stroll through one of the most delightful spots in Jerusalem but can’t be here in the flesh, as it were, are welcome to join me on a virtual tour.
The art-works, which are all for sale, are – by and large – unnamed, but some of them so obviously represented well-known people or places, that titles came, unbidden, into my head and suggested captions for my photos, taken on my old and (for the most part) trusty Motorola RAZR V3x mobile phone, which I’ve had for about seven years and which is limited to 2 megapixels.
As I entered the mall, the first sculpture to catch my eye was one which I have named “Don Quixote” because it reminded me of the famous sketch by Picasso of the Man of La Mancha:
Nearby was a brightly-coloured, three-dimensional montage by Yuval Mahler which could be Akko (Acre) or Yafo (Jaffa) or any one of the several several Israeli cities that boast an old, walled nucleus and a thriving new metropolis around it. I decided it represented Jerusalem, in the days before the area around the Old City was cleared and when shabby, but vibrant, working-class neighbourhoods were still crowded up against its walls. But feel free to disagree with me. As I said – there are several possible candidates:
The next sculpture, also by Yuval Mahler, I privately named “Humpty Dumpty” – although the tufts of hair and bushy eyebrows rather remind one of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister:
Ben Gurion cropped up again in a sculpture by Raphael Maymon, which reminded me forcibly of Paul Goldman’s iconic photograph of “the Old Man” (as he was affectionately known) performing a headstand on the beach in Herzliya in 1957, when he was nearly 71 years old:
The next item, I have captioned “Singing in the Rain”, reminiscent as it is of Gene Kelly dancing around a lamp-post in the film of that name:
Not all of the images were so easily identifiable. This one, for example, reminded me of a Soviet politician from the dark days of communism, but I can’t put my finger on which one. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to comment!
And this sculpture was obviously meant to represent Albert Einstein. Even if the face weren’t so easily recognisable, the E=MC² formula would have given the game away:
I’m not sure who, or what, the next piece was meant to represent, but it made me think of several financial scandals which have surfaced over the last few years, involving shady real estate deals and the corruption of certain highly-placed individuals now on trial and whom I shall not name until the judicial system has had its say. The words “Holyland Project” do, however, spring to mind.
On the other hand, I could be completely wrong here. The numbers on the man’s arm remind me of the numbered bricks in the Mamilla mall itself and could be a hint at the tearing-down of the old, low-income, mostly Kurdish neighbourhood that used to exist in Mamilla, which was torn down to make way for this very upmarket shopping mall. The Mamilla neighbourhood, situated dangerously close to the Israel-Jordan border between 1948 and 1967, became prime real estate overnight when that border (and the constant threat of sniping by Arab Legionnaires from the Old City walls) disappeared in the wake of the Israeli victory in the Six Day War. The original inhabitants were relocated to far less prestigious neighbourhoods in other parts of the city and the more picturesque parts of the neighbourhood were dismantled, each brick being carefully numbered, and then reassembled to form facades for the new neighbourhood.
Some of the items particularly appealed to me because they included animals – especially cats:
I think this next one is supposed to be a dinosaur – on a skateboard!
I call this one “The Ratcatcher” – although, I must admit, I can’t see wherein lie the humour and satire here.
One of the creations made me think of Charles Dickens. It was as if no fewer than three Artful Dodgers had stepped from the pages of a book and into the streets of Jerusalem:
Other sculptures were so realistic, you might have mistaken them for exhausted shoppers who had just collapsed after a hectic day of consumer therapy:
This piece I mentally entitled “We Are climbing Jacob ‘s Ladder”:
I could find only one piece which had been named by its creator – “The Seven Deadly Sins” by Sarah Matoudi:
The artworks you see here are only a small selection of the ones I photographed, and my photographs encompass only a fraction of the wealth of humour and invention showcased in the Mall. I love the whole idea of the Avenue serving as an outdoor art gallery. If one member of the family is a shopaholic but the children are becoming bored, there is always something to awaken their interest. And last Thursday, with schools still on vacation and many people taking a “Bridge” between Shavuot and the weekend, you could see numerous families combining shopping and touring.
Finally, then, something else for the children. I like this picture because it combines several kinds of statuary. First, we have the Ruth Erez sculpture of a hand, reminiscent of the Addams Family “Thing”. Then, we have the human statue and his own balloon statues. And finally, we have the mannequins in the shop window behind him. Thus, the whole Mamilla Mall experience is encapsulated in a single image:
Finally – for those of you who are wondering – yes, I did manage to find a suitable present for at least one of the intended recipients .
Have a good week!