Indian artist visiting Israel creates an altar that sings of the 3 religions

Jerusalem now has a temple shared by the three monotheistic religions. Created by an Indian artist visiting Israel, it is located on the terrace of Muslala, an urban site on the roof of the emblematic Merkaz Clal building in the city center.

The space, a wooden meditation structure originally built for Israel’s Midburn Festival and later moved to Muslala, is comprised of a stone altar that emits soulful sounds and chants, harmonious chants and hymns, sung by religious leaders and teachers in Jerusalem.

Vibha Galhotra, who spent three months in Jerusalem as part of the Jerusalem International Fellows, a ten-week internship program for artists, recorded each religious figure as part of her project, then constructed a round altar from them. slabs of Jerusalem stone, in just three days.

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She named this project “From the mountain to the sea” (“Mountain to the Sea”). It is a kind of playlist for a free religion, whose guiding principle is open-mindedness. The soundtrack integrated into the altar broadcasts in loop, for 45 minutes, the sounds proposed by the group of spiritual guides of Galhotra.

“There has to be a point where everyone can come together, in the name of a common cause,” she explained.

The common cause in this project, however, is not really religion. While the voices recorded are those of people preaching and teaching about religious subjects, they spoke to Galhotra about climate change and the environment, a common theme in her work as a visual artist.

The use of sound for his work was a first for Galhotra, who does not speak the different languages ​​of the participants but found that their sounds and melodies honored their messages.

“I think we have to ask different kinds of questions,” she said. “Art gives me the power to ask simple questions”.

Galhotra spoke with more than a dozen religious thinkers and leaders, including Franciscan nuns, a friar of the Holy Sepulchre, a member of the Coptic church, a muezzin, an imam from a mosque in the Old City, as well as a Jewish philosopher, a cantor and various teachers.

Each religious representative was able to carefully choose the music that represented him.

They agreed to speak with Galhotra because she was asking about climate change, she said.

“If I had asked about religion, I would have stuck my nose in their business,” Galhotra said. “There was nothing offensive about the question. It’s about viability. »

So far, Galhotra said, his audience is answering the call; many people sit for long periods of time listening to the sounds of “Mountain to the Sea” while reflecting on the messages inherent in the sounds and songs.

“Mountain to the Sea” is installed in Muslala, which organizes from June 6 to 9 a festival called Gag Eden (the roof of Eden).

Among the guest artists, Anna Lublina, second from right, and Vibha Galhotra, far right, are among the Jerusalem International Fellows, at a show at the Studio of Their Own in late March 2022. ( Credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Vibha Galhotra was one of five participants in the program, who come to the city every year to collaborate with artists, groups and cultural institutions from East and West Jerusalem.

His fellow artists were Claudia Lavista, a Mexican choreographer who worked with the Catamon dance troupe; Anna Lublina, a German-American visual artist who hosted a fabric and weaving workshop at the Bloomfield Science Museum; and Sofia Borges, from San Paulo, Brazil, who taught visual art techniques at Ibdaa School of Arts, a high school in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Each of the participants spent the ten weeks meeting and working with Jerusalemites, and held a symposium on their process and findings toward the end of their stay.

“The goal is not to make the best work of art, but to connect with Jerusalem’s cultural ecosystem,” said Elise Bernhardt, founder and director of Jerusalem International Fellows.

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Indian artist visiting Israel creates an altar that sings of the 3 religions

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