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Elemental Rock

Goni Harlap


Japanese Zen gardens, also called "dry gardens", feature islands of rocks that have been planted in earth for many generations, surrounded by ripples of gravel that are continuously raked. These are places for contemplation, observation, and meditation.


Bonseki artists undergo difficult expeditions to the seashore, to mountains and rivers, in search of rocks forms that wind and water have shaped into asymmetrical, living contours. A rock is considered to be a breathing material, a changeable creature; the crystallization of a unique character in time and space.

The gravel flowing between these rocks acts as both background and substance, as action, intention and impermanence, emptiness and pattern. It is ancient minimalism, precision resulting from meticulous observation, devotion to matter.


“Elemental Rock”" is an installation which aims to plant a Japanese Zen garden on contemporary Israeli ground. In contrast to traditional Zen rocks, which are meant to represent none other than themselves, Israelite stones carry extra baggage, they are meant to support our elemental existence. A Google search for the Hebrew well-known term “Sela Kiyumenoo” (“The Rock of our Existence”) serves as the inception for this sculptural act.  In this way, the five leading search results were merged anew, solidified into objects, and reborn as another incarnation inside the gallery.

The gravel surrounding them is made of casted rubber, molded patterns of repetition and modularity.


The “Dictionary Rocks” were formed over the course of many years inside the artist’s studio, and contain layers of previous works, residues of failed casts, drips of rubber and time. The “Bamba Rock” seems to erupt from its raw material, leaving poisonous crumbs behind. Another Google entry leads to an enlargement of the fabled Venus from Berekhat Ram, (considered to be the oldest sculpture in the world). Its new proportions reawaken the enigma that mystifies onlookers and researchers alike - is it a natural-made rock or a deliberate work of art. The search after "The Rock of our Existence" inevitably leads to the tangible and overbearing political realm. A live broadcast of the Western Wall is projected from the place of this rock. At the edge of the installation, at the gallery courtyard, stands a military breakwater, to and from which the rubber river flows.

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