Street Carpet | Painted Concrete | Ben-Sira Rug
The Ben-Sira Rug installation simulates a carpet spread across both sides of the street on Ben Sira Street in Jerusalem. Its route contains a preserved structure from the Ottoman Period. The Ben-Sira Rug is a jigsaw puzzle assembled from concrete tiles cast from molds that simulate the texture of a woven rug.
The Jerusalem Municipality initiated and developed the project through the “Eden” Co. Ltd. The preliminary graphic design has been formulated as a whole unit, with the intent of “ignoring” the roadway and enabling the eye to complete the picture to a consolidated spatial vision.
Technique: Concrete cast tiles. The painting is conducted combined with spray paint and specific brushwork. In all, some 500 units have been integrated. Each of which is a 76.5 x 76.5 cm square and on average 5 cm in thickness. Each tile weighs in at approximately 60 kg. The paint has been adapted to the environmental conditions of an outdoor sidewalk, and it is the most durable that exists in today’s global market. In addition, much thought has been given to the concept that the ‘carpet’ will require simple and as little as possible maintenance.
A Puzzle of Motifs
The observance of the rules characterizing classic carpets was intended to create that same initial “click” that the passerby experiences as a connection to a familiar object that transmits a sense of warmth when entering one’s home.
The classical composition is created by the division’s design into peripheral frames, surrounded by a center rich in details, and preservation of a graphic repetition of the motifs as a customary language in the carpet world.
The selected motifs are a visual allegory in the same vein of Isaiah’s prophecy (Chapter 11).
The central motif remains for personal interpretation, but with a message for fair shared living.
The lion (the symbol of the City of Jerusalem) and the mountain gazelle are animals that exploit their traits (sense, look, smell) to build a stable relationship.
The central color – blue-turquoise, was chosen because it is a color that stands out in the urban public space and, in addition, inspires a sense of freedom and majesty.
In the creative process, I chose a long line of symbolic motifs, the design of some of which was inspired by known and ancient motifs or underwent a redesign, corresponding with ancient designs engraved on Jewish coins found in archeological excavations in the Jerusalem area.
Some of the motifs were imported from designs found on chiseled stone ossuaries decorated with stone engravings. The sense of prior acquaintance with some of the motifs can be attributed to the revival of ancient Jewish symbolism and the renewed design of contemporary graphic designs that wrapped our silver coins of the New Age in traditional elements.
I pondered at my colleagues’ Biblical designs and their practical decisions, and I refined their expressions – precise messages looking out onto the world from a small coin – a display surface, sometimes no more than a centimeter in diameter — into familiar details woven into the visual fabric of the rug.
The concept of the rug is a type of journey in time.
The fabrication process of ancient coins – modeling, mold, and casting – has not changed throughout history, and is almost identical to the technological process used in the installation’s production.
A mold enables accurate reproduction. Therefore, in the case of the Ben-Sira Carpet, a real wool carpet was chosen because of its compressed yarns that create a kind of woven power. The original carpet that served as a model is made from sheep wool and ropes, in the same way rugs were manufactured in ancient times.
The motif selection is inspired by Isaiah 11.
Chapter 11 in the Book of Isaiah is utopian, naive, extreme, and allegedly absent of any logic or hold on reality. In his words, the prophet represents purity and uninhibited imagination, where each allegory can be read literally, and at the same time be interpreted for their personal, profound levels in the eyes of the reader and those observing the motifs of the Ben-Sira Carpet.
Inspired by the prophecy of Isaiah