pozdrowienia z alei jerozolimskich

Mea Shearim, orthodox Jewish district, Jerusalem, Israel. I went to Israel in 2002. It was my first journey to Middle East.

n Mea Shearim Hasides try not to look at women. They turn their heads or cover faces with hats. I felt that it wasn’t only aversion to me as a woman, it was something more – a depravation of the right of sharing the space with them. Although in fact it was just the Law.

I desperately wanted to make a contact though. I lied across the pavement. A haside wanted to hit me with his stick. He thought it was a political provocation.

There was lot of tension in orthodox Jews.

There’s always something happening in Jerusalem. It is a centre of the world, an unlocked hand grenade.

There’s always something happening in Jerusalem. It is a centre of the world, an unlocked hand grenade.

A lot of passion too. I felt powerful energy at the Western Wall. At the entrance the military were checking if I have any weapon

I fell in love in Israel.

But it was time to go back to Poland.

I realised how juicy sounds the name of a well familiar street where I had lived not long before: Jerusalem Avenue.

Finishing an article about Israel I thought that planting the avenue with palms would make a nice end for the journey.

I spent a year and a half collecting permissions for putting a palm at de Gaulle circle. I started with Warsaw Tramlink, as trams pass nearby.

Municipal Roads Office wasn’t very keen on the project.

I managed to convince the chief heritage conservator with argument of superiority of the Mediterranean culture.

Together with an architect Michał Rudnicki we built a model of de Gaulle circle.

Unfortunately, one year later a dog sat on it. Only photos remained.

We ordered a tree in the USA. A little production plant was in Escondido, on the Mexican border. Warsaw palm was made by two Mexican workers.

The trunk was so long, that it couldn’t fit in a workshop.

In December 2002 first elements of the foundation appeared at the circle.

Workers put them together into a complicated octagonal structure.

Basement was weighted with concrete blocks.

A steel pipe was screwed into it.

And then, when the trunk arrived from Escondido, it was put over the pipe with the use of a crane.

On the 11th of December 2002 first leaves were installed on the palm.

The palm has changed the vista from Poniatowski Bridge.

t freed energy within people. This picture I received from two blokes I hadn’t known before.

They decided to shoot a photo session under the palm, in hawai shirt at minus 10 centigrade.

My friends overheard in a tram... ‘Jews have put the palm ‘cause it’s their avenue’.

I learned that at the end of 17th century one aristocrat established a Jewish settlement at the end of what’s today an avenue.

New Jerusalem was unwelcomed competitor for Warsaw traders, so the aristocrat was brought to court.

The land has been confiscated, houses demolished and Jews forced to leave.

But the streets name remained: Jerusalem Road – Jerusalem Alley – Jerusalem Avenue.

The palm begins to grow into the city.

Despite its estrangement.

Some perceived it as en exclusive decoration.

Teenagers laughed that ‘palm struck them’ (Polish idiom for going mad)

And I was worried that leaves break on the wind and fall out.

My Buddhist friends tackled the issue. We had a repair set: scaffolding, a generator, fuel, planks, ropes and tools.

On the top of a 15-meters high tree I was scarred stiff.

The view of the Avenue and Poniatowski Bridge from underneath the leaves compensated the fear. The city was ours... For several months we looked after the tree, than a crisis came.

The mayor of Warsaw wouldn’t legalise the palm’s presence at the circle, so, in an act of protest, we put a banner on it: ‘The palm is waiting for a permission’. We also had to remove the remaining leaves.

The same day Municipal Roads Office hastily took the banner down, as well as the scaffolding, explaining it with ‘safety reasons’.

The palm began to appear in the press in a totally different context. This is Newsweek, where it was placed next to Lech Wałesa. As article in Los Angeles Times described horrible, dull Poland, where dull people in dull trams watch But in Suddeutsche Zeitung the palm was a sign on brand new, open Poland.

Bare trunk still waited at the circle.

They organised public fund rising and read the letter to the mayor Lech Kaczyński.

At the palm’s second birthday people from Le Madame club, Greens and friends decided to fight for the palm.

Photographed themselves in swimsuits and sunglasses.

Shortly later a general de Gaulle’s monument was erected at the circle. Covered, it looked like a woman wearing burka.

We were busy in a garage producing leaves of Chinese components, fibreglass and polyurethane gloss.

It took us 6 weeks.

In the summer 2005 we put leaves on the palm again.

It was beautiful summer.

Somebody decorated the palm with bananas and apples.

Police officers were sometimes called the Beach Boys.

A friend of mine spot a newlywed couple under the palm.

Most of all I liked late afternoons at the Avenue.

The view from Poniatowski Bridge early in the morning.

Or from the skyscraper at night.

Autorzy zdjęć:

Grzegorz Hartfiel, Sebastian Lewandowski: slajdy nr 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
Konrad Pustoła: slajd nr 61
Konrad Pustoła, Joanna Rajkowska: slajd nr 60
Joanna Rajkowska: slajdy nr 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 36, 37, 38, 39,
40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54
Michał Rudnicki: slajdy nr 17, 18
Marek Szczepański: slajdy nr 22, 33, 34, 35, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59
Artur Żmijewski, Joanna Rajkowska: slajdy nr 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9
Artur Żmijewski: slajdy nr 3, 8