The Peace Cylinder Project
Collaboration with Linda Behar
Performances and Installations (2012-2018)
The Peace Cylinder is a project that brings together two important stories from antiquity that have great relevance today – the "Declaration of King Cyrus of Persia" and the "Book of Esther" from the Bible. The Cyrus Cylinder is a clay cylinder that was discovered in the ancient city of Babylon in Mesopotamia, and it dates to the sixth century B.C. On it is a text in Akkadian cuneiform script issued by the King of Persia, which is regarded as the first declaration of human rights for the way in which it promotes religious tolerance and freedom. The Book of Esther is a section of The Hebrew Bible that relates the story of a Jewish girl named Esther, who became the queen of Persia and used her position to intercede with the king in order to prevent a genocidal plan against her people. The Biblical text teaches that individuals should act with the knowledge of God’s love according to the situations in which they find themselves and with respect for God’s sovereignty in all circumstances.
This project includes two ongoing and evolving performances and two large-scale installations. The Peace Cylinder (Performance), Whose Blood is Redder? (Performance and Installation) and The Eternal Dialog (Installation)
"The Peace Cylinder Performance"
Performances (An ongoing project since 2012)
The Peace Cylinder Performance (Collaboration between the Peace Cylinder Artists and Musicians)
In this project, a ceramic replica of the cylinder with the original declaration engraved on the surface and a wooden roller covered by a polymer plate that holds the last chapter of the Book of Esther in Hebrew are used in performance to create prints on clay and paper. The ritual rolling of each device underscores the importance of the message that each text bears and the similarity of each act of printing reflect the common themes and the universal significance that each text tells in its own way. At the end of the performance, the clay and paper prints are given as gifts to members of the audience.
Selected Peace Cylinder Performances
Whose Blood is Redder?
Performance and Installation 2016-2018
In Jewish faith and Iranian culture, one addresses the preciousness of life by asking ‘Whose Blood Is Redder?’ Blood is red because it contains iron, but the color is a much greater metaphor. Red is hot. Blood is unstable. It boils inside us. We see that our blood is red, only when it is spilled. When it gets outside of us, it gets darker. Blood makes words stronger. Whatever is rational, blood renders emotional. Blood is the source of life yet it has swirls about the hatred and chaos in the world. Our red makes us blind to the color of their red.
People tend to focus on their differences to such a degree that historical hatreds are embedded in global politics. So before choosing oneself over someone else, one might consider the importance and value of the self. We approach this issue by asking ‘Whose life is more precious? Who is more important?’
This project is an extension of our previous work that was based on two important texts from antiquity that have great relevance today – the Declaration of King Cyrus of Persia and the Book of Esther from the Bible. Portions of the two texts are merged together in a round shape, which is a symbol of earth. The texts are in different point sizes that can be read at different distances. Our blood has been poured and dripped spontaneously cross the entire installation.
The fresh blood was so potent. We could not control or make any decision about how to pour it when it started to congeal. It started to clot, to smear, and to stain. The beautiful words of antiquity began to change, and most of them turned into a crimson mess. Ugliness came over the installation. The blood ruined all places that it touched. The smell of blood was unbearable, and the experience was horrifying. As we witnessed the red starting to thicken, we were wondering whose blood was where. The beauty of the work was diminished right in front of our eyes.
What happened in this experience was emotional … we understood that our world, which is formed from our soil and blood, doesn't let us see clearly … It was hard to identify whose blood was where. We could not tell the difference. Indeed what remained was the realization that no one’s life is more precious -- no one’s blood was redder in any way at all. We cried over this blood for the pain and the wounds that some cause in the world for no reason other than for blood or maybe just to see whose blood is redder than the other’s.
Whose Blood is Redder?, Performance and Installation in “The Nerve”, Performance Art Festival, Curated by Leah Brown, Jen Clay, and Peter Symons, FAT Village Art Complex, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Eternal Dialogue Performance and Exhibition 2018,
Rosemary Duffy Larson Gallery, Davie, FL.