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Shachar Fleischmann

The Pit

Artifacts raised up from the belly of the earth

Ancient garbage dumps, like contemporary landfills, are important sites for research, as they contain objects that have not had a chance to disappear. What stories can they tell us?

March 1, 2021 – June 5, 2022


It can happen by chance, following a night of heavy rain, after laying a new irrigation pipe in a field, or during an orderly archaeological dig – artifacts from the past rise up to emerge from the belly of the earth, reaching ground level. Tools, remains of food, clothing, weapons, fragments of buildings. Crumbled pieces of culture, broken fragments of one thing mixed in with something else, clinging to roots or to the bones of rodents, alongside of each other.

photo: Shachar Fleischmann

The exhibition attempted to lend an ear to the findings from the archaeological dig in the Mikveh Israel landfill – Tel Aviv’s first garbage dump that operated during the British Mandate from the mid-1920s until the early 1950s.

The exhibition was an attempt to “draw out” of the excavated substances the material mass and its formal contents, with the hope that they will tell us something new and unexpected. The first glance at an object extracted from the dig seeks to understand what it is, who made it, what was its use, and why it was discarded.

Photo: Shachar Fleischmann

The exhibition proposed a slightly different type of dialogue and had three parts: the first engaged the syntax of the languages of design buried in the landfill; the second offered a view on life underneath the earth’s surface; the third presented evocative objects collected and traded by virtue of the stories attributed to them.

The research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, our partners in sponsoring this exhibition, and with the support of Dan Region Association of Towns.