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The Patriarchs Trilogy

2012, 2015, 2018-2023 | The Cave of the Patriarch | Ibrahim Mosque, Hebron, The Occupied Territories, WEST BANK


2012 | The Cave of the Patriarch / Ibrahim Mosque, Hebron, West Bank
Two channel synchronized Video installation 

The Patriarchs Trilogy follows the resonant biblical motif of intergenerational ‘birthright’ as it is reflected in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The trilogy focuses on the shrine known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi (‘Sanctuary of Abraham’) and to Jews as the Cave of Machpelah (‘Cave of the Double’), commonly referred to in English as ‘Cave of the Patriarchs'.

Both Jewish and Muslim practitioners share the site through a complicated arrangement that came into being in 1967 following Israeli occupation.

The first two parts of the trilogy: ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAH (2012) and ISHMAEL (2015) Follow an implementation of a spatial division established in 1994 by the Israeli authorities after a Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslim worshipers while they were praying in the mosque. The site has been physically divided so that worshippers of each religion are strictly kept apart.

Both pieces emphasize the performative qualities of routine activities in the cave that touch upon the link between ceremony and territory, bringing forth a reality that is far from the general public’s awareness, revealing the complex way in which systems pertaining to religious belief, social norms and politics intertwine.

The Patriarchs Trilogy continues my ongoing exploration of the politicized economy of sacred spaces.

These narratives of ownership and paternal birthright form a mythic cycle of legacy and usurpation. The work's visual rhetoric focuses on contemporary ritual at the Cave to lyrically reflect on the recurrent motif of birthright in Israeli and Palestinian politics. 

ESAV,the third piece of the trilogy is in progress and hopefully will be accomplished during 2023.

Israel State Archives - 1967

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     Nira Pereg's interest in the economy of spaces belonging to a sacred sphere, in visualized paradoxes, in the transitory within the eternal, and the profane inside the sacred, led her to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.  In Judaism, it is considered to be a most sacred site, second only to the Temple Mount. The Cave of the Patriarchs, or the Ibrahimi Mosque, is also revered by Muslims. Since the Baruch Goldstein Massacre in 1994, in which Muslim worshippers were murdered and injured, the cave has been physically divided so that Jewish and Muslims worshippers are strictly kept apart within the shrine.

After the massacre the Israeli government assigned a special committee to issue protocols to allow for time and space sharing of the site. The work Abraham Abraham Sarah Sarah follows one of these protocols.

     Ten times a year, in accordance with special holidays and under close Israeli military control, the cave passes hands for 24 hours only, enabling each side to have full use of all the chambers of the cave. Abraham Abraham and Sarah Sarah are two videos that follow a unique event of a temporary "change of hands". The work Abraham Abraham follows such a "switch" on the occasion of a Muslim holiday in July 2012. In a matter of hours, the Jewish area is cleared out of all Jewish artifacts, inspected by the army and stands vacant for a few short moments before the Muslims enter with their own artifacts and turn the empty rooms into a mosque for the next 24 hours.


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2012  SARAH SARAH Muslim > Jewish |  One Channel Video | 4 min 10 sec. loop > Edition of 7+2AP

     The work Sarah Sarah mirrors such "switch" on the occasion of Jewish events at the cave. Similarly, the Muslim area is cleared out of its artifacts, and inspected by the Israeli army, and within a few hours, the Jewish believers enter with their own artifacts and turn the empty rooms into a synagogue for the next 24 hours. Filmed months apart, these two works closely reflect each other. They have the same length and the same symmetrical structure, pivoting on the opening of the door connecting/separating the two spaces. Abraham Abraham and Sarah Sarah depict the two sides of these unique periodical events. These temporary evacuations by no means attest to religious coexistence. On the contrary – they are the product of religious intolerance. In fact, half of each work shows the closing down, locking in, concealing, dragging, and blocking of furniture and religious objects. Not even a chair is left for the use of the rival faithful. The simultaneity of the works’ soundtracks when viewed together underscores this power struggle. In order to accentuate this counterpoint, Pereg decided to eliminate all human presence from the soundtrack. There are neither sounds of footsteps, nor voices. Only inanimate objects produce noise. In both films, Pereg focuses on hastily evacuated spaces that build up anticipation for the imminent takeover. In these distended moments, time and space sway between earthy conflict and spiritual elevation. 

2012  | abraham abraham - Jewish > Muslim |  One Channel Video | 4 min 10 sec. loop > Edition of 7+2A

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Makers: Editing: Nira Pereg  |  Filming: Yossi Shalev | Sound design : Nati Zeidenstadt  |  Post: Tal Korjak

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Receiver of Prix Maratier ward 2013 | The Fondation Pro mahJ, Paris, France.
Publisher: Éditions Musée d’art et d'histoire du Judaïsme. October 2014
Soft Cover: 64 pages
Language: English & French
ISBN : 978-965-7463-18-5
Dimensions:  17.5 x24 cm
Design by: Michael Levin
  • Paul Salmona, directeur du Mahj: Nira Pereg - Prix Maratier 2013

2012| Consecrated Spaces

By: Sergio Edelstein

From the exhibition catalog Nira Pereg: “All this can be reconstructed elsewhere”

Publishers: The Center for Contemporary Art at the Rachel & Israel Pollak Gallery, Tel Aviv | Centro da Cultura Judaica.

Nira Pereg in “Abraham Abraham and Sarah Sarah”        By: Nathalie Desmet

ESSE magazine-“Religion” edition, Nathalie Desmet reviews Nira Pereg’s work ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAH :  “Pereg depicts the reality of a mechanic unconscious linked to religion… By isolating the gestures and movements, by orchestrating sound and image, Pereg offers a different reading of religious reality”.

Download the book

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Haaretz: Heb

״אי שקט״: התערוכה הרלוונטית היחידה שמוצגת עכשיו

Haaretz: Eng

Armageddon at the Israel Museum

Nathalie Desmet

Nira Pereg  ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAH February 19, 2015

“Pereg depicts the reality of a mechanic unconscious linked to religion…

By isolating the gestures and movements, by orchestrating sound and image,                  Pereg offers a different reading of religious reality”.

Tate Modern, England

Israeli Museum, israel

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Drake, Wassenaar. Netherlands

Princeton University Art Museum, USA

Private collections


The Tel Aviv Musuem of Art | Israel


The Israeli pavilion at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice | Italy


Reciver of Prix Maratier -La Fondation promahj le musée d’art e d’histoire du judaïsme, Paris | France


Israel Museum, Jerusalem | Israel


-CCA, Tel Aviv | Israel

-Centro Da Cultura Judaica, São Paulo |Brasil

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2015 | The Cave of the Patriarch / Ibrahim Mosque, Hebron, West Bank
Four channel synchronized Video  
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          Following ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARHA SARAH (2012), ISHMAEL continues Pereg’s ongoing investigation of the everyday routines at the Cave of the Patriarch. Pereg returned to The Cave of the Patriarch, which is also called Ibrahimi Mosque الحرم الإبراهيمي‎. Under closed military supervision, Pereg was allowed to film and spend one whole day following the adhan- the five Muezzin calls for prayer from 4 am to 9 pm {4 am Fajr (pre-dawn), 12:30 pm Dhuhr (midday), 4 pm Asr (afternoon), 7:30 pm Maghrib(sunset) / Mincha(before sunset), 9 pm Isha'a (night)}, documenting the singularity of the way in which the ritual is conducted in the Cave of the Patriarch at this time.

  The Cave of the Patriarch is located in Hebron, at the heart of the West Bank. It is a sacred place for both Jews and Muslims. Since the mass murder of Palestinians perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler from Kiryat Arba, in 1994, the cave has been physically divided between Muslims and Jews. 80% of the cave is a mosque, and 20% functions as a synagogue. The IDF is in charge of the only doorway connecting the two separate areas. In ISHMAEL, Pereg follows the Islamic call to worship (adhān), recited by a Muezzin five prescribed times during the day. The adhān was traditionally recited from the Minaret Tower - but is now called using a microphone. Due to the particular architectural division between Muslims and Jews in the Cave of the Patriarch, the Minaret was left on the Jewish side of the cave. Ishmael follows the journey of a Muezzin, escorted by IDF soldiers, as he makes his way from the mosque through the synagogue and back.  The work begins in the mosque, where the Muezzin waits for the Israeli soldiers to meet him at the dividing door and escort him through the Jewish side. The escort ends at a green door, from there the Muezzin proceeds to open the door and lock it behind him. He settles, prepares, and then calls the adhān using an amplifying sound system that echoes his prayer throughout the cave and beyond the city. The soldiers guard the door during the entire time, and once the prayer is over they escort the Muezzin back to the mosque area.  The manner in which the work is shot supports this narrative by positioning three cameras – one in the mosque, one at the dividing door, and one in the synagogue. Due to local demand from the Jewish settlers, the Border Police has decided to forbid the 7:30 pm Muslim Maghrib (صلاة المغرب sunset call), and instead, a Jewish Hazan calls for the evening prayer Mincha (before sunset). This is the only place in the world where a Jew is calling publicly for prayer. These events are part of the surreal routines that maintain the fragile status quo in the cave over the last two decades.  Echoing the cooperation between Israeli Defense Forces, the Border Patrol Police, and Hebron’s Police Force, Pereg placed three cameras – one inside the mosque, one at the door/threshold between the mosque and the synagogue, and one inside the synagogue. She articulated a narrative and meticulously edited it into a multi-channel video installation. The work emphasizes the performative qualities of the routine activities in the Cave that touch upon the link between ceremony and territory, bringing forth a reality that is far from the general public’s awareness, revealing the complex way in which systems pertaining to religious belief, social norms and politics intertwine.
Pereg’s work examines different types of public spaces, such as vertical burial sites (KEPT ALIVE, 2010), documentation of roadblocks in Jewish Orthodox neighborhoods during the Sabbath (SABBATH 2008), or the upkeep of the church of the holy sepulcher (THE RIGHT TO CLEAN, 2015). Pereg attends to different aspects of the regular maintenance occurring in these places, pausing on what she calls spiritual bureaucracy. Her works reveal the form through which religion marks concrete territories in order to maintain itself. Pereg’s subjects relate to the power relations and cooperative arrangements in place that serve to strengthen the religious narrative in each site, thus raising questions about the metaphysical and physical ties created in these types of ritualistic unions.

Editing: Nira Pereg  |  Filming: Ziv berkovich  | Sound design : Nati Zeidenstadt  |  Post: Tal Korjak


2015 | ISHMAEL | four channel demo10 MIN 38 sec.loop > Edition of 7+2AP


 פרופ. ישיי רוזן צבי על תערוכתה של נירה פרג ישמעל | Heb

בגלרית ברוורמן, תל אביב. ינואר 2016.

פרופסור ישי רוזן-צבי, פרופסור חבר בחוג לתרבות עברית באוניברסיטת תל אביב ועמית מחקר במכון שלום הרטמן.

Prof. Yishay Rosen-Tzvi discuss Nir Pereg's exhibition ISHAMEL at BRAVERMAN Gallery Tel Aviv , January 2016


Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi is a Senior Research Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, a doctorate in Jewish philosophy from Tel Aviv University and a lecturer in the Department of Hebrew Culture.

מכון ון ליר כנס - מעבר לגבול ולדמיון: קולנוע תיעודי, ריבונות וזיכרון | צילום, קדושה וריבונות

 ד“ר יעל שנקר

דוברת: ד“ר יוכי פישר, חוקרת דת וחילון, מכון ון ליר בירושלים

מאמרה המלא של דר. יוכי פישר

״מערת המכפלה בעבודותיה של נירה פרג״ 2017

הקרנת עבודות הווידאו־ארט של נירה פרג ”אברהם, אברהם" ו"שרה, שרה״ ו״ישמעל״.

שתי יצירות וידאו ארט שבהן מוצג תהליך שינוי בעלות זמני של 24 שעות של אולמות התפילה במערת המכפלה ממסגד לבית כנסת (שרה שרה) ומבית כנסת למסגד (אברהם אברהם). שתי היצירות זהות באורכן, בקצבן ובמבנה הסימטרי שלהן ומעלות שאלות על מוקדי השליטה המניעים את המרחב כולו. ביצירה "ישמעאל" נירה פרג חוזרת לחברון ועוקבת במשך יום אחד אחר חמש קריאות המואזין לתפילה ("אד'אן"), וחושפת בפנינו את הצורה שבה בירוקרטיית השליטה על המרחב הדתי נפגשת עם היסטוריה פוליטית וריטואלים דתיים דיון בעקבות ההקרנה: יו“ר: ד“ר אסף תמרי, אקדמיית פולונסקי, מכון ון ליר בירושלים.

דוברת: ד“ר יעל שנקר, בית הספר לאמנויות הקול והמסך המכללה האקדמית ספיר ואוניברסיטת פלורידה

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Tel Aviv Museum

Private collections


Solo show at Tate Modern, London, UK.


“New ways of the world” Architecture center « arc en rêve » Bordeaux | France


Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, TLV Museum of Art | Israel


On Stellar Rays Gallery, NYC NY| USA


FEATURES at Art Basel | Switzerland

Braverman Gallery, TLV | Israel

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