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Halil Balabin • Ronit Citri 

Ronit Goldschmidt • Netta Laufer 

Israel Rabinovitz • Yael Sloma

Curator: Yael Sloma

10.4.2021 - 9.5.2021

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The exhibition “Erlking” stems from two elements with extensive mythologies - the forest and fire – and attempts to examine how the link between them to the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir is reflected in contemporary Israeli art. In the summer of 2014, in revenge for the murder of three Jewish boys - Gilad Sha'er, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrah – by Hamas, Jewish extremists abducted Abu Khdeir from his neighborhood, took him to the Jerusalem Forest, where they burned him to death.  


The two archetypes of forest and fire have been associated for centuries. The northern European forest is perceived as a place where dark, enchanted creatures live, a place of urges and tempestuous emotions, and the site of trauma in the Jewish People’s collective memory. The forested landscape was imported to Palestine-Eretz Israel by European Jewish immigrants to cover the dry local foliage. Thus, the European landscape of trauma became the ideal landscape of a “repaired’ Middle East. Fire, on the other hand, has been present in the Jewish-Israeli cultural consciousness from many angles, from the Burning Bush to the crematoria on European soil through to fire inscriptions of the youth movements. All have transformed the flames into part of the Zionist narrative linking the Holocaust to national rebirth. The exhibition “Erlking” returns to the murder of Abu Khdeir, surveys the way it appears in local art, and examines how the two archetypes are linked to the violent event.


Most of the works on view mark the Jerusalem Forest as their focus, and many feature the tree most common to almost every forest in Israel: the Jerusalem Pine. Ronit Goldschmidt paints the dramatic moment at which the fire takes hold of the pine. Halil Balabin locates his tortured figures in the landscapes of the Jerusalem Forest. Ronit Citri associates two incidents involving fire that took place in the forest: the murder of Abu Khdeir and the forest fire that threatened to damage the Yad Vashem Museum three years before. Netta Laufer collects pine needles from the Jerusalem Forest, documenting them in close-up photographs. Israel Rabinovitz burns fire inscriptions on canvas with the names of people who set themselves on fire or were burned to death by others. Yael Sloma traces the route taken by Abu Khdeir on the night of his murder in a video comprising 1,400 still photographs.

Erlking / Credits

Curator: Yael Sloma

Graphic Design: Avihai Mizrahi

Photography: Tal Nisim

Text Editing: Tal Granot

English Translation: Judith Appleton

Arabic Translation: Elham A Hamedeh

Technical Consult: Ziv Barcesat

Set up: Koby Davider

Production: Yaniv Lachman

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