2012 Foreseer of the Past
A multimedia installation that recreates inside the gallery space the synagogue of the Prophet Elijah in Alexandria as a reflection about material forms of memory.
- 2012 France, Marseilles: Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts

- Jean Louis Connan [school director]
- Ecole Superieure d'Art et Design de Marseilles [technical support]
- Israeli Consulate in Marseilles [financial support]
- Printemps de l'Art Contemporain [financial support]

2012 Foreseer of the Past
Foreseer of the Past. Encryption
The installation Foreseer of the Past, Encryption was realized in the context of a residence at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Marseilles (ESADMM) in 2012. For the occasion, I reconstructed part of the synagogue of the Prophet Elijah in Alexandria in the gallery space of the school. The synagogue of the Prophet Elijah had been destroyed by Napoleon’s armies in 1790 and rebuilt in 1850, thanks to donations of local Jewish families, including mine. At the time it was part of a rich Jewish cultural and cultual environment with a school, a ritual bath, a rabbinical tribunal and the offices of the Jewish community of Alexandria. Nowadays, only the community space is kept. The surroundings of the synagoge are left unattended.

Foreseer of the Past, Encryption reproduces the decorative outlines of the interior structure of the synagogue of the Prophet Elijah and furniture elements such as prayer benches. It combines them with personal objects belonging to me or my family, such as houseware and pieces of textile. A cigarette boxed made out of precious metal, the top of which represents a village on the shore of the Nilus, belonged to my grandfather Elie Salama, who was trading cotton at the cotton stock exchange in Alexandria. There is also an embroidery stitched by my grandmother while she was waited for her husband to return from his journeys; a traditional bath sponge my father kept using after we left Egypt, as a souvenir of his life in Alexandria; my birth certificate established in Alexandria; a sheet of the 1930 Haggadah book my family used for Passover. These collected remains of our life in Egypt are processed in a museum-like manner. They are preserved in glass containers strewn across the space and to be opened by visitors.

The installation comes with a soundtrack of Sephardic prayer incantations, which were recorded at the synagoge Ohel Yaakov in Marseilles. These are mixed with religious melodies and the voice of the cantor alternated with the voices of the congregation. The installation originates in remembrance and the desire for bringing back to life the memory of what Alexandria used to be. It also represents a place where the past connects to both the present and future as it has for a background the wave of protests of the “Arab Spring” in 2011 and the occupation of the Tahrir Square in Cairo.