Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hutzot Hayotzer: Steampunk Rhinocerous, Peruvian Chess, and Mosaic Iguana

I took Saarya, Tal, and her friend Nechemya to Hutzot Hayotzer last night, an annual ten days of Israeli and international arts and Israeli music at Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.

Each year's format is rather the same, as are the offerings, but its still fun to go. The music is played so loud that we can hear it blasting through the windows of our apt building 2 km away in Arnona. Standing in front of the speakers, your body trembles with each bass beat.

But the music is only one part of the evening.

The Scene

Note: All pictures are shrunk from the originals. If you want to see details on a particular picture, ask me and I'll send you the larger original.

This is what it looks like in the daylight, coming in from the south at 7:30 pm. Those are the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the right.

And this is what it looked like from the west side, as we were leaving at 11:00 pm.

Flags of the participating countries flying along a perimeter wall.

Decorations around the area include these light-tree structures. Jerusalem events are always full of lights.

The Oddness of Security and Lottery Agents

Approaching the entrance at the south side, we were told that absolutely no one can get in tonight unless they had previously bought a ticket earlier in the day (or prior). No more tickets were available; we had to come back tomorrow. All the security agents on that side agreed.

So we walked around to the other side, bought tickets, and entered without any problems.

The left hand surely doesn't know what the right hand is doing. This security nonsense continued later on, during the concert performance (see below).

This guy was one of many selling lottery tickets. His shpiel included a pronouncement of how good an idea buying this lottery ticket was and how many millions of shekels we could win.

Me: If this is such a good deal, why aren't you rich, instead of selling lottery tickets?

Him: (laughs) Oh I never buy these tickets. Maybe that's why I still have to sell them!

Me: So you're offering me a product that you don't even use yourself?!

The Internationals: Countries and their Crafts

Although I have organized these alphabetically, they were actually situated somewhat more geographically. In that arrangement, it was clear that countries from the same region tended to have closely aligned artistic styles.


Not entirely sure what this is, but it looks somewhat apocalyptic.


Argentinian masks

A leather-detailed Chess board is not all that unusual ...

But Chess pieces made from leather strips is more interesting. $60.



South American countries had very colorful items, which we Americans and Israelis typically consider gaudy or childish.

Brazilian polka-dot chickens

Brazil rooster made enameled with beer bottle caps


I think this box came from Bulgaria, but I may be wrong. It was stunning, as were a number of other boxes in the collection. $1300.




China's booth was somewhat weak this year. It's usually stunning.


I tried on some Columbian shirts, but they weren't the right size. They were hard to take off without ripping. $20.


An iguana made from mosaic squares

El Salvador (and Guatemala)


African countries also have interesting colors, but usually darker with more solid shapes than the South American brights and patterns.


Not really sure what these are. Dolls with wicks, or something.


Cat City and Fish paintings from Hungary.


That's Tal and her friend, Nechamya.

These are miniature paintings on some kind of shells.


Indonesia always has their own grass hut.


This guy (in the turban) has been coming since at least 2005. The guy on the right from Israel is active on some Israeli/Arab peace web sites.



Assume it's South Korea

I don't know what he's writing, but on the bottom of the pic you can see the tip of the Hebrew bible that was open in front of him.





This bowl has a beautiful cracked glaze.


A Peruvian Chess set, pitting the Peruvians against Spain, I believe.

Hand weaving. Must have been a pain to drag that here from Peru.


Heavily Christian themed.



Made from flower petals and leaves.


South Africa

Beaded elephants. Lots of countries used elephants as an art theme. I don't know why.



They had three booths.


Shell owls

Glass sculpture.

The Concert

Sarit Hadad played. Madonna's a big fan.

The concert area had it's own section in the area, the south side which is a ring of stadium like seats facing a concert backdrop. Lots of standing room on the sides and in front.

Security was attempting to throttle the people going in and out by a series of metal police barriers. They yelled "You can't get in!" until enough people showed up at the gate and demanded that they be allowed in. Then they relented and let them all in.

Simultaneously, they told people inside "You can't go out!", which was ridiculous, of course. And when a queue of people went out, it made even less sense to try to hold out the people who wanted in. So basically, the gates opened and closed every few minutes for no particular reason.

Sarit singing beside the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who didn't know the words (or was shy) when Sarit asked him to sing along.

Of course, vast numbers of people filmed or photographed the concert.

I remember a time not long ago when security checked people's bags for video cameras and such things to prevent people from filming a concert. Good luck trying that now. If you looked at the throngs of people around the stage, it was a sea of lights from camera-phones. Hundreds of people with their hands in the air like the above guy.

The Nationals: Crafts

Moving to the Israeli half of the area, craftspeople worked the area.

Glassblowing. The Arab guy working this booth (not pictured) had a perpetual snarl on his face. It might have been the lateness of the evening.

Basketweaving (and other stuff made from basket canes).

There is an enclosed bar area, with acrobats spinning on drapes, silhouettes of backlit performers behind white screens (left), clowns, singers, and a band.

Along with rice engraving, there was hair braiding, and artist sketching.

Smart Zone

This was the only booth dedicated to games. Smartzone both imports games (Hive, Pentago, Tantrix) and is creating their own games. I've written them up before, and I will post more about them and their current offerings in another post after this one (including a games festival they are organizing in Afula with other Israeli game companies).

Here are some random Israeli craft pics:

Many ceramics and mugs

Blue ceramics is a large trend here

One of several interesting works by the same artist.

These, and the following are from Papafork, an artist who make stuff out of silverware and other metal discards. Very steampunk. He supposedly has a website at, but it doesn't work.

This is life-size.


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