Maor Milshtein

Operating Instructions

Independence Park is an urban park in the center of Jerusalem. Before the establishment of the State, it was an area separating the Jewish section of the city from the Arab section of the city, and in 1959 it was officially dedicated as an urban park. The park is used primarily as an area in the center of the city where people can rest or go for walks, and it is also used for assemblies, protests, demonstrations, and different public events.

In response to many complaints received by the Jerusalem Municipality about the fact that the park is dark at night – and therefore has turned into a place where sexual harassment is common, and where there have been several instances of rape–the city’s leaders decided to install light posts, to solve the problem of having lighting at night, before the upcoming summer. The process of installing lighting in Independence Park is the focus of my final project. It was important to me to set up days when I would photograph the work, join in doing the work, and become a part of the staff. The tasks they had to do gave me opportunities to work together with them in full cooperation and with their complete confidence.

At the same time, the work consists of two different operating systems that exist in parallel, simultaneously. One is connected to the daily, mechanical operations following the instructions that were given to me by the work manager, and the second is connected to the project managed by me – following my own operating instructions. These two systems of operating instructions try to “speak” with each other. Do they connect and, if so, how?

The point of interaction between them is the stage at which the boundary between art and the day- to-day blurs, until it completely disappears. This is how operating instructions turn into the saga of the Tower of Babel, in which a clear, common spoken language is missing. The construction work is reminiscent of the activity of a “theater of the absurd” in which we build and build, but no one promises that the work will finish, or the situation will improve. At the end, it is impossible to understand how the Sisyphean work becomes effective. The internal scenario of the work, and the regularity of it, create a reflexive view that has an impact on how the activities are documented, raising the question: Who is hosting whom?