Quercus Calliprinos Branches, Video and Sound
Collaboration with Ofer Asaf and Iddo Charny for Jerusalem Design Week commisioned by Shenkar Collage
The area between Israel’s Yarkon River and the slopes of the northern Carmel Mountains was fully covered by the greenery of a vast forest of oak trees, which grew there until the 19th century. This forest area is known in Hebrew as ‘The Sharon,’ in reference to the Akkadian word A-Sharanu – which literally translates into “a thick forest.”
The deforestation of the area began during the rule of the Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha in the 19th century, who had ordered that the oaks be razed so their wood could be used for heating and construction. Later, throughout World War I, the oaks were cut off in order to provide heating for the engines of Turkish trains that passed by. When Jewish settlements were founded in the area during the first half of the 20th century, the orchards that were planted over the hills of red loam – a type of land prevalent in the Sharon region – prevented the possible rehabilitation of the forest.
Since then, scant fragments of memories that have taken the form of groves and ancient trees from the original forest are scattered throughout the Sharon region. Their presence is a reminder of the devastation and the abuse but also of hope, in an ambivalence that echoes the nature of the relationship between mankind and nature during our current epoch.
A-Sharanu is an artificial reservation, a temporary memorial composed of skeletal oak twigs that have been placed inside glass tubes. Their presence in the space is accompanied by the voices of the sole trees that have survived. Visitors are welcome to listen to the voices of the leaves, which have been translated into sounds through an algorithm that identifies and responds to their unique chemical fingerprints.
Thus, A-Sharanu brings back the forgotten story of the ruin of a local forest to the public discourse, raising questions about the tension between natural and artificial, preservation and progress.
Left to right:
1. Karmon, Y. (1961). Geographical Influences on the Historical Routes in the Sharon Plain. Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 93(1), 43–60.
2. Cutted trees in Tulkarm - the Ottoman period, a time when massive deforestation of the forest took place in favor of supplying trees for railway locomotives.