Graveyards Being "Kept Alive" on Video

Amidst a rock-strewn and dusty landscape, a mountain of sand-colored concrete graves dominates the city skyline. The silhouettes of people in quiet prayer are mixed with the perpetual sounds of clanking tools made by care-worn workers. A graveyard above ground, it is the Har Menuchot-Mountain of Rest, in Jerusalem.  

This spiritual yet awe-inspiring scene is captured through an audio-visual presentation in an on-going piece titled "Kept Alive," by artist Nira Pereg. Presented through projected video imagery and still shots, the exhibit captures the on-going construction of Har Menuchot and the symbiotic relationship that is formed between maintenance workers and those left behind by the deceased.  

Pereg's work presents panoramic shots of Har Menuchot on one large wall projection, with two smaller projections capturing intimate close-ups of laborers and their work. A separate room houses still shots of various grave markers titled "Kept Alive," or "Alive," indicating tombs purchased for loved ones not yet deceased.  

The sounds of digging and hammering are transmitted throughout the video presentation, while one small projection steadfastly depicts the digging and filling of graves. The larger projection reveals the massive scale of Har Menuchot and silhouettes the men and women in prayer next to the graves of their loved ones.  

The solemn yet heartening images of the large projection starkly contrasts the laborious endeavors presented on the smaller screens. While the content of these sounds and images seem to be at odds, Pereg's presentation provides a link between spirituality and the mundane by exposing the harmony that exists between people working toward a common goal. 

"Nira's work has such a cyclical nature to it," says Jackey Chi of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery, in Santa Monica. "People are at Har Menuchot for one purpose and there's a harmony among everyone involved." 

Pereg drew the title "Kept Alive" from grave markers at Har Menuchot that indicate an unoccupied grave. Using this as inspiration, Pereg's exhibit documents the "burial grounds of those who are still living, yet already possess a concrete territory amongst the dead," according to "Kept Alive" is a work still in progress. 

Pereg's work is largely documentary-based and is drawn from a series of intense observations. Her installations deal with the "...ways that social structures intersect with the authority of the individual," according to her website. She was born in Israel and received her B.F.A. from the Cooper Union Institute and Academy of Art and Science in New York and her M.F.A. from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. She currently works as an artist and international teacher.  

"Kept Alive" is currently being featured at the Shoshana Wayne Gallery at 2525 Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica. Entry is free and is available Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Saturdays from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. The exhibit runs through February 27. For more information on Nira Pereg, "Kept Alive," or other works, please visit