Friday, June 3, 2016

Jaffa Gate and the stone

Heirloom Inventory, mixed media on paper, 2012

This is the first piece from my Great Grandmother's collection that I returned. All her other souvenirs have more specific labels like 'Sea of Gallilee' or 'Jacob's Well'. This one perplexed me. It could have gone anywhere. Or at least thats what I thought. I left it at Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Later I learned of the complex history between East and West Jerusalem, things were not as straightforward as I had presumed. Ironically, the 'Israel' sticker fell off before I placed the stone on the ledge. I was able to return the object, void of labels. It could decide for itself. 

Apart from the socio-political ramifications of my action (unbeknownst to me), the first returning was more emotional than I expected. This little stone had been in my family for forty years and it felt wrong to leave it behind. It was so small, so insignificant and vulnerable. I had to fight the urge to turn around and rescue it. Maybe I could go back on my word slightly, set it down so it could get to know its mother stone, and then pocket it again. It would be safer with me, anyway. In the end, I forced myself to walk away empty handed. Not even allowing myself to look over my shoulder. 

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