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The Via Dolorosa of the Falafel

MFA Performance

  • Jan 07 2020
  • Omri Livne
    Omri Livne is an artist working with image making and writing based in Berlin. Livne’s works
    deal primarily with labor, theft, consumerism, job-related depression, capitalism, and the art
    market. Livne struggles to make a living with art selling so he works in whatever he can to afford
    his life.

The Via Dolorosa of the Falafel text is a word-to-word transcription from a storytelling performance I made as my MFA graduation work in 2015 in at the Academy of Visual Arts Vienna, Austria. 

One evening in 2009 I went to the Western Wall, the original one in Jerusalem, and I put a note inside it, in the cracks. I can’t remember what the note said, but I remember it being a strange experience. The last time I did anything connected to religion was at the age of thirteen on my bar-mitzvah so, you know, nothing brought me to be even close to anything that connects god or religious experience although, I come from the holy city, but holy city is only for, I guess, people that can feel holiness in a way. and the reason I came to the western wall and put a wish in the wall was because I had an experience, sort of enlightenment and this enlightenment was a painful enlightenment. I had to really think deeply about how to deal with it because I never had anything like that before. It all started in the afternoon, at noon of that day when I was going with my flatmate to get falafel from our favourite falafel shop - Shalom Falafel. This falafel shop is a place that I used to just go almost everyday because it has the best falafel in Jerusalem. Now what's very unique about this falafel is the spot, the spot is in the middle of the street, in sort of a cave, and just next door to the falafel shop there is a laundry place, so when you go down the street you have the smell of laundry and deep fried oil and and you’re like already get it, you already get the whole experience by just smelling it, the clean and the dirty, goes up into your nose, and you have it already. So like in every afternoon during the 2009 summer, very hot summer thirty five degrees everyday, you don’t know what to do with yourself, I went with Adam my flatmate and we got us a nice pita with falafel and a lot of tahini and salad, we took it back and we sat on the balcony of my old room. This afternoon we were asking for extra tahini inside the pita, it made everything very like juicy, like, you know, we could like play with it, it was quite fun, and then Adam was took out the pita out of the bag and he was just like squeezing it like that and it looked like the falafel is laughing, the whole pita is laughing, it was a very funny experience, so I started to laugh, when I was laughing I had one scoop of falafel in my mouth, the moment when I tried to swallow it, it just got stuck in my nose, just like it happens to you when you drink coca-cola and it goes out of your nose, or spaghetti for other people. For me, it happened with a scoop of falafel, and this was a very interesting feeling because the falafel.. it’s very dry. You know, all those chewed little pieces, you think the falafel will get into your breath and your will just get a stroke and die, which I was really sure that would happen at the first moment. So I called my mother, and she said it will be ok. So I started to breath in and out and there was nothing really going on, I was just closing my eyes, and sitting on the floor in my room, and just trying to imagine what will happen to me if I died now, because of this falafel, I was stressed out, and I started to breath in and out and slowly slowly I started to feel like first falafel pieces are coming down through my nose outside. There was not much blood coming out, sometimes little pieces of you know, stuff I have inside my nose. It happens to everybody sometimes to have falafel coming out of their nose, no? 

So first pieces started to go, and I tried also to get water inside, to wash things from the inside, and it didn’t work out because you cannot force it on yourself, It has to happen by accident. In that moment I was still processing the whole pain, so in that moment when I was realising that my body was going through shock and my brain I thought would get a stroke from dying from falafel pieces, anyway, I was sitting on the floor and just starting to see some colors in my head, imaging these colors getting out of the falafel, it was an artistic enlightenment, because sometimes you imagine things and you connect it to colors and these colors can be influencing your next video or whatever. At some point I decided to go to a yoga class because, you know, in yoga class you breath in and out, and it's really a useful system. You should try that though when you have falafel pieces coming out of your nose. I went to yoga class, and it was embarrassing because while I was sitting, the falafel was starting to come out, and that was amazing, because I was meditating in yoga class and everything started to come out, my teacher came and asked me what's going on with your nose, and I said it's falafel! The falafel I had for lunch, it's coming out now, finally! It was the first yoga class that actually helped me. And when everything came out I was happy because I didn’t die, I just tried to remember this in my head, but of course you know, years go by, people learn in exchange programs, they come to Vienna, they get stuck in Vienna, study here, and only the first time that things started to connect back together is when I went next to Mumok museum one day on the way to the Wiener Aktionismus conference, and they’re like their suffer, I suffer, things happen there, things happen to me I walked by and I saw these cracks on the wall of Mumok museum, inside the wall, and I thought like aha, this reminds me of something. How come I never thought about it, it was like you know like that, a new thing, a new thing came up to my mind, and I thought like ok, let's try that, I took a note, I took a pen and wrote my wish, folded it and put it inside the wall and that was how I started to think about you know, western walls, wishes, things came back into my head, well the wish from Mumok did not happen but, I put the last time a wish and that happened, you know it didn’t rain today, thanks god. That’s how things connected in Vienna, and I decided to go back into the experience of the falafel, of the suffering I had there, things started to connect again, and I decided to try and describe the whole process of this very unique day of enlightenment, probably the only enlightenment I ever had, and probably will have in the future.



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