Art project SEEDS OF BLISS / بذر / גרעינים is defying political, religious and geographical borders in the Middle East

Photo: Shula Covo, all rights reserved

The intention of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים is to bring people in the Middle East together to chew a total of ten tons of sunflower seeds in neighbouring cities. This intercultural cooperation project by interdisciplinary artist Noam Edry, in collaboration with the Haifa Museum and Artis Contemporary, is not about nationality, politics, religion or any other differentiating factor; all participants are individuals living in a Middle Eastern city and they come together with their neighbours to share the pleasure of a tradition deeply rooted in their part of the world. Jordanians from Aqaba and Israelis from Eilat live within 6 km from each other with an equal distance of less than 1 km to the Red Sea. Now we have entered August, which is when the sunflower seeds are ready for harvest and the sunflower seed donations for SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים have reached a total of 3 tons. The artist, who is travelling around Israel for meetings with the country’s seeding companies, is met with great enthusiasm and it should not be long until the ten tons have been raised.

In September, ten people from Eilat will cross the border and get together with their neighbors in Aqaba to chew, spit, drink coffee and socialize for five days at Al-Fardos Café.  Later on, the people from Aqaba will cross the border over to Eilat and continue the seed-shelling with their new friends. To get the Israeli State to approve the Jordanian’s VISA applications is a complicated procedure, but Noam Edry is working on the bureaucracy together with trusted volunteers. Additional neighboring cities to take part in SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים are Nablus-Haifa and Jenin-Afula. All stages of the project are being documented and the 5-day performances will be filmed and publicized in the press in real-time. Though in its early stages, SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים has already received huge TV and press coverage in Israel and is stirring quite an interest worldwide. After the completion of the project, the artist hopes to exhibit the remnants of ten tons of sunflower seeds and the documentation in London, as a humorous Middle-Eastern response to Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds. “The Chinese are expert craftsmen. Our expertise is to chew and spit” she explains.

Photo: Shula Covo, all rights reserved

Noam Edry describes her recent visit to Aqaba in her own words:

“I came with my photographer and the people in Aqaba adopted us immediately. Hasan, the owner of Al-Fardos café, hosted us and treated me like a real friend. Hasan introduced me to his friend Nabih, the manager of the mosque, and single-handedly they put together a team of ten very trustworthy and responsible Jordanians, who understand the nature of this project.”

Every evening the artist got together with Hasan and people from all around Aqaba to enjoy the friendly atmosphere at Hasan’s café, where the conversations flowed naturally accompanied by sunflower seeds, shish and coffee. Although the city has plenty of entertainment to offer a visitor, it was nothing that could beat the contentment of simply chilling out, talking about life and discussing the beautiful possibilities of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים. Throughout the evenings people discreetly joined the group with a passport in their hand and expressed their wish to participate in the project, which put the artist in a very humbling position.

Noam Edry has been studying Arabic in order to better communicate with her volunteers. Thanks to the abounding conversations that have taken place during the initial stages of the project, all happening in a sunflower seed chewing spirit, the nature of SEEDS OF BLISS   / بذر  /   גרעינים is becoming increasingly organic and collaborative. The starting event will take place on 23 August 2012 in the artist’s birthplace of Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan, a small communal settlement in the North of Israel, with the participation of the neighboring Arab-Bedouin villages of Ras Ali and Khawaled. Together they will chew the first few kilos of sunflower seeds.

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[More on Noam Edry]

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Interview Series 2011

Part 1 – A constant battle for the freedom of speech in a web of taboos and envy

Part 2 – From sharp-edged politics to an S&M club and back again

Part 3 – “I Am the Terrorist”

Feature on Childhood

Born a War Painter

Reviews

Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, 2012

Goldsmiths MFA 2011

 

Noam Edry was born in 1982 in Israel in a communal settlement and raised in London. Her work explores questions of identity, mechanisms of power and domination and their physical relationship to the human body. She works internationally on ambitious projects that often involve a large number of participants, merging the physical with the political; the body and the private space of the individual function as allegories to the social and political sphere. Edry completed her Master of Fine Art with Distinction at Goldsmiths, University of London (2011) and a BA of Fine Art at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design Jerusalem (2005), she studied painting at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts de Paris (2003-4) and acting at the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, Tel Aviv. Her recent solo show at the Ein Harod Museum, Israel titled “The Silver Salver” (2012) explored the relevance of national Israeli emblems and involved living sculptures; actors and actresses who dressed up as exported fruits and vegetables in a reconstruction of a bloody battle field. Artis Grant recipient 2012, shortlisted for the Red Mansion Art Prize (2011), Israeli Arts Council Grant recipient (2008), winner of the Bremen Art Grant (2008), winner of the International Jewish Artist of the Year Award (2004).

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