Hillel the Elder said that the essence of the entire Torah is expressed in the verse, “And you shall love your friend as yourself.” This work touches on the borders between people and the need to overcome these borders. This is the sacred border which when erased brings us closer to God.
When we moved to our new near ground-level office, in a typical Tel Aviv building, we wanted to create a work in the space between our building and our neighbor’s building. The topic interested us, as Tel Aviv is a city of gardens and every building is located some distance from the grounds. The city founders wanted to create living conditions that would be an improvement over those they knew in Europe.
The distance between the buildings allows for four directions of airflow, and a green garden surrounding every building. In reality, as every building guards its own territory, a series of narrow, useless and often neglected spaces were formed.
To begin our project, we asked the neighbors for permission. K, an elderly 80-year-old widow, is the owner of building no. 9. We emphasized that we would pay the project’s expenses and promised to rebuild the fence at our expense if she did not like the results. She was shocked at our proposal, “What do you get out of it?” she repeatedly asked and then added, “What do I get out of it?” She told us that 30 years ago she had waited years for a telephone line and then finally the phone company announced that they would only give her a line if she agreed to a telephone pole in her garden. In the confusion, she had agreed to their demand. Her children have still not forgiven her for this and therefore she was hesitant to make another mistake.
We turned to G., a representative of the tenants’ committee of building number 11, who announced that she would not agree to the work, because 20 years ago, K. renovated her house and left a mess in the area of G.’s building and this still angers her today. Several days later, the neighbors began to worry that we would implement the project without their permission; one morning G. came into our office, furious, and said that we had better not dare to implement the project which she sees as plotting against the elderly, whose lives are hard enough.
At this stage we understood the situation and we continued to cultivate the garden around the office, up to the border of the grounds. “Work No. 10” examines the potential of Tel Aviv as a cooperative city that is close to the ideas of its founders. There are three meters between each building and the lot line on which it is built. Erasing the border would make it possible to create a six meter-wide space. This width would be sufficient for building gardens, paths and shared places for the children and the neighbors.
“Work No. 10” explores the space between the two buildings. It dreams of a shared place – a place on the border, on the seam line between people. It reveals a series of past events that were troublesome. It asks the neighbors to forgive so as to establish a place of closeness and mutual understanding. “Work No. 10” is part of a series of works, a sequence of investigations that concentrates on space. Each work examines the space of a specific site in search of the place hidden within. The investigation dictates the choice and use of materials, to reveal when a space becomes a place.