Eitam Tubul’s light-hearted art project proposes amulets for modern misfortunes such as hangovers, awkward silences or email hacking.
Jerusalem art project “Amulet Authority” places amulets to ward against daily problems such as “ordering during happy hour,” as seen pictured in Jerusalem, Oct. 29, 2018.
Jerusalem has known many masters and many faiths in its 3,000-year history, but one thing has remained a cultural constant: amulets against evil spirits. The modern city abounds with beads, pendants, pictures, strings, jewelry and a wide assortment of talismans — a custom that is shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
One Israeli artist is tapping into this millennia-old tradition and adapting it for Jerusalem’s 21st-century streets. In homage to this deep-rooted tradition, Jerusalemite artist Eitam Tubul launched the light-hearted “Amulet Authority,” an art project that has produced a variety of intricate plaques designed to thwart modern misfortunes.
Tubul said that instead of competing with traditional amulets, he struck on the notion of mystical remedies for the “very prosaic” problems of modern life. His plaques offer protection against everyday misfortunes such as hangovers, awkward silences and meter maids, or act as good luck charms for finding free Wi-Fi, long cell phone battery life or balanced air-conditioning in the office.
“[These are] things that people know can’t really be solved,” he told Al-Monitor.
Under the guise of officialdom, Tubul has created absurdity. The art project’s website informs visitors that “the amulets passed all the necessary and required references” — of which, of course, there are none. Tubul’s fictitious Amulet Authority bears a logo combining an eye and a fish, two common apotropaic symbols.
“Every month or so, somebody tags the Amulet Authority [on Facebook] in a picture,” Tubul said, chuckling. “Lots of people say ‘these Jerusalemites are totally crazy. They have an Amulet Authority. What’s happening in this city of morons?’”
The amulets are scattered along central Jerusalem’s Hillel Street and around the Mahane Yehuda market, placed at eye level on sandy limestone walls.
“To use the amulet, photograph it and save it as a picture on the telephone in your pocket,” the plaques instruct passersby.
Amulets to ward off evil and ensure good fortune are common to the many peoples who have inhabited the Levant in the past few thousands of years to the present day. Just this week, Apple added the ubiquitous blue eye amulet, common throughout the Middle East and further afield, to its latest batch of iOS emojis.
Over the ages, they have taken on a dizzying variety of forms, from scarab seals with hieroglyphs to inscribed slips of metal or parchment, to colored stones or beads. The oldest known copies of biblical text are etched into two silver amulets dating to the sixth-century BC that were found in a cave outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
“They are a phenomenon in popular culture, and it doesn’t really matter who’s here — whether it’s Christian or Jew or Samaritan or Muslim,” Lenny Wolfe, an antiquities dealer and collector of Middle Eastern amulets both ancient and modern, told Al-Monitor.
Among the local Arab population, apotropaic amulets occupy the realm of folk medicine and magic, filling the void between organized religion and science, and are “an essential part of the Palestinian people’s cultural heritage,” wrote Baha al-Jubeh, a curator at the Palestinian Museum in the West Bank city of Birzeit, in a 2005 article. The museum has an assemblage of 1,400 amulets, talismans and other magical objects from Palestinian communities and around the Arab world collected by Tawfiq Canaan, an early 20th-century collector.
“Arguably, amulets are the ultimate expression of popular culture,” Wolfe said, adding, “It’s an undercurrent in the culture that lasts hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”
The “Amulet Authority” art project was conceived in 2014 during Tubul’s artist residency with Beita, a municipal art center in Jerusalem. He was tasked with creating works that span the divide between the home and public space. He decided on amulets because of their intimate nature and his familiarity with them from growing up in a Moroccan Jewish home.
Tubul, who also teaches graphic design at the Musrara School of Art in Jerusalem, said his amulets adhere to a certain “intuition.” Their eccentric figures combine abstract shapes and lines with Hebrew letters and the occasional word and are inspired by traditional Kabbalistic Jewish designs.
“Every time I start to see that the design is starting to look like something that I understand, I throw it out,” he said. “I make it so that the imagery is meaningless. People really connect to it.”
Of the original 14 amulets placed around the city, several have been damaged or pilfered, Tubul said, including one, ironically, to protect against email hacking.
“I guess someone really needed it,” he said.
Undeterred, Tubul is in the process of designing another seven based on “bizarre” suggestions submitted by Facebook users. One suggestion is an amulet to “to find all the amulets you put up,” but until Tubul erects the new series, visitors will have to explore the streets and alleys around downtown Jerusalem to find them.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases