While We Wait: how stereotomy enables meditation

Elias and Yousef Anastas_008_Copyright Edmund Sumner
“While We Wait” at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (Photo: Edmund Sumner)

While We Wait is a meditative installation by Bethlehem-based architects Elias & Yousef Anastas about the cultural claim over nature in Palestine. Yousef is a Form Finding Lab alumnus.

The towering structure consists of small elements of stone from different regions of Palestine, fading upwards from earthy red to pale limestone. The stone elements are shaped by both revolutionary and traditional techniques: they are designed on a computer, cut by robots, and hand-finished by local artisans.

The process of ‘stereotomy’, the art of cutting stones so they can be assembled into a larger configuration, enables the lace-like structure to support itself. Moreover, gaps between the stones allow the viewer to see out, while being encouraged to imagine the installation’s eventual surroundings in Palestine through evocative sound and video elements.

After being exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK), While We Wait is destined to live permanently in the Cremisan Valley, where the controversial separation wall is currently being built, threatening to segregate the community, isolate land from its owners, and sever the historic link between the valley and its eponymous monastery.

In stark contrast to the rectangular concrete wall, which dominates and divides the Palestinian landscape, this installation will venerate its extreme natural beauty. Returning to the very earth from which it was made, it celebrates the visual, symbiotic relationship between nature and architecture. Moreover, the structure will unite the local community by becoming the focus of their non-denominational Friday gatherings in protest of the wall. While We Wait therefore suggests an alternative to the cultural claim over nature.

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(Photo: Mikaela Burstow)

Project information:

While We Wait is an installation by Elias & Yousef Anastas commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. It was exhibited September 16-24 at the Daylit gallery.
While We Wait will be on show at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai on November 6th.
Authors: Edmund Sumner, Mikaela Burstow, and the Form Finding Lab

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