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2018 2021 | Damascus Gate, the old city, Jerusalem

The Fridays Project embarks on filmographic research around the site of the iconic and politically charged Damascus Gate, located on the northwest side of the old city. The site’s several names pay tribute to its multiplicity: Damascus Gate in English, Sha’ar Shechem—the “Nablus Gate,” which refers to the biblical city—in Hebrew, and in Arabic “the Gate of victory” (باب النصر..) Each name suggests a different narrative and a different spatial reality. In contemporary Jerusalem/Al-Quds, Damascus Gate has long been a site of violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and police.


Damascus Gate possesses several everyday functions and yields multiple layers of narrative, as is often the case in the sites I focus on. The Gate serves as a crowded marketplace but is also the main thoroughfare for Muslim pilgrims heading for the Friday Dhuhr prayer at 12:30 p.m. At sunset, orthodox Jews enter through the Gate too, as it provides the shortest route to the Wailing Wall, where many of the devout recite evening prayers to welcome the Sabbath.

By designating Fridays as the constraint for filming, I reflect on the contested political meanings, competing for geospatial realities, and overlapping transcendental experiences of the site.

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

Damascus gate, Jerusalem, 1967

     Police barricades and checkpoints, a repeating motif in my work, become a fractured lens that reveals the disjointed ephemeral and eternal borders of Jerusalem and its peoples.

These barricade checkpoints function within the spatial constraints of narrow Old City passages to enforce an intimacy between antagonists, resulting in a kind of bureaucratic frenzy.

Pereg’s work exposes the multiple roles of these metal barricades: as dividers and meeting-point, as defensive shields and offensive weapons.

     Up to nine Israeli police and military checkpoints line the less than one-kilometer route that winds from Damascus Gate to Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount). In an uncanny resemblance to the Via Dolorosa of the Christian tradition, Israeli forces observe, patrol, and at times interdict Muslim pilgrims on their way to the Friday prayer.

In fact, both road share one junction at the Via Dolorosa fifth Station of the Cross, where tradition holds that Roman centurions forced innocent bystanders to bear the crosses of those condemned for crucifixion. The work explicitly references the Via Dolorosa—the ‘route of pain’—that marked Jesus’ final journey, as well as offers a contemporary perspective on the ways in which new narratives of power and privilege, subjugation and suffering, are constructed in space amidst movement and witness.

     The work chronicles a narrative in the making—an ever-shifting gauntlet that may be remembered only by those who walk it. 

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