top of page

When the legs are up, everything is calm


IKEA FROSTA Components, spackle, spray paint. 2018.

Jerusalem stone is a name for various types of pale limestone used in building since ancient times, common in and around the city of Jerusalem —those distinctive rectangular blocks that give the Old City its ancient feel. However, the stone has become a symbol of control, visually enforcing the boundaries of the city and allowing for newly annexed neighborhoods to appear as being part of the same lineage as the historic city center, miles away. To this end, a 1968 Israeli mandate requires all new buildings in the city of Jerusalem to be faced with the stone, because, according to the city planners, it carries “emotional messages that stimulate other sensations embedded in our collective memory.”

This emotional message extends far beyond the city of and its surrounding suburbs. The various forms of the stone are often employed abroad in Jewish buildings as a symbol of Jewish identity. Contemporary synagogue design frequently employs Jerusalem stone to simulate the Western Wall, or to serve as a backdrop on the Bimah.

In "When the Legs Are Up, Everything is Calm," Liam Ze’ev O’Connor presents new sculptures, reconfigured Ikea furniture coated in artificial Jerusalem stone. Jerusalem stone has become a symbol of Jewish identity, but it is an externally facing, public identity. These sculptures explore what it means to bring that symbol into the interior of a home: The stone, intended for outside use, is reassembled and recombined with the familiar shapes of the furniture, meant for intimate, personal use. The works in this show attempt to construct a personal Jewish identity from the materials and symbols available within a very shallow form of Zionism and O’Connor’s own American, consumerist diaspora.

bottom of page