Peter Coffin

Untitled (Orange Pyramid), USA, 2007

Table and oranges, 109x109x166 cm

Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

The Orange Pyramid by the American artist Peter Coffin brings us a universal version of the image of the orange, which for us has always symbolized the color and the taste of this land. In choosing to include this work in the exhibition, I examined the possibility of giving the viewer an opportunity of borrowing an image from its original context and adopting it in the local context. The orange, which is engraved in the nation’s collective memory, has a place of honor reserved for it in our poetry, our literature and our art. Israeli and Palestinian artists have painted both the orange, as one of this country’s more characteristic fruit, and the myths that have connected with the country through it. Its image appears in the paintings of Reuben

Rubin, Nachum Gutman, Yosl Bergner and others, as well as on posters, stamps, and packagings of products from the times when the orange groves were an emblem of the country’s landscape and the orange was a ubiquitous commercial symbol of its identity. Peter Coffin’s installation is like an icon and an artistic experience, and the fact that it was created in a different place does not prevent it from connecting with a different reality. Dani Karavan has written about the disappearance of the orange groves from the landscape of our lives: “Have you ever thought what Tel Aviv and Jaffa would look like today if they had not cut down and drained the orange groves growing around them? What would Tel Aviv and Jaffa look like today if, in the course of their expansion over the extensive areas that surrounded them in the past, the orange groves had continued to blossom and to bear fruit and to be an integral part of the city? Have you ever considered what marvelous and distinctive cities there could have been here, with fruit gardens, vineyards and orange groves forming part of their urban fabric, while their owners continued nurturing them and preserving the memory of their inception? This did not happen, however, and it could not have happened, and this is a pity, because real estate and ‘modernization’ have gobbled up every good plot of land, every vineyard, every orange grove, every cypress, every sycamore, and every ecological swamp (the subject of the ‘draining’ of the ecological swamps of this country’s coasts is still open to research and to trenchant public discussion), which were easy prey for real estate developers. This is because they were abandoned property, the property of absentees, and state lands. Is it possible to imagine what would have happened, and perhaps to analyze and to investigate what kind of society might have grown from a different urbanism of this kind? What kind of culture might have been created in a city such as this, in an environment of the orange grove, the pardess = Paradise? Might it have been possible to create in this city a novel, modern Garden of Eden, more modern, perhaps, than all the multi-laned roads and the plethora of skyscrapers that have sprouted like mushrooms without careful planning to at least create a new and different skyline that is not merely a poor imitation of somewhere else. And all of this height only serves and produces more wealth for the few and much greater poverty for the poor.”