Maimonides Garment, installation view, "The Kibbutz" Gallery, Tel-Aviv, 2011
Maimonides Garment, video, 3:27 min, HD 1920x1080
Maimonides Garment, detail
Maimonides Garment, detail
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Maimonides Garment

This earliest work in the trilogy, the Maimonides Garment, recalls the image of Maimonides who is considered one of the most important figures in Judaism. Because he wrote his principles in Arabic, he was also recognized as a philosopher and a physician in Islamic culture.

The common legend is that Saladin fell ill during his reign over Jerusalem and none of his man could cure him. The famous Egyptian doctor, Maimonides, was summoned to the sultan’s palace and healed him of his malady. As a gift for his services he received a magnificent jalabiya and a 1000 dinar note, and the two men developed a deep friendship. 

The refabricated outfit of Maimonides is displayed in a glass vitrine, on a mannequin, whose face has been sculpted to match the portrait. The work is exhibited didactically, similar to displays in history museums or wax museums, which preserves the typical ethnographic manner of representation of the East. Fabrics are a common representation of the East in ethnographic exhibitions, for example, in the Ethnographic Department on the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The project Maimonides Garment heightens the viewers’ wariness, prompting them to ask themselves, is it an authentic or false representation? The piece casts a doubt about the historical document: suspicions arise that the bill is a counterfeit, monopoly money, an invented artistic narrative and not a historical fact.

Maimonides Garment
The story is told by Bilal Abu-Halaf, a cloth merchant in the Old City of Jerusalem who imports textiles from Damascus, Morocco and India. Abu-Halaf is the third generation of cloth merchants in his family, and regards himself as the descendant of soldiers from a battalion that traveled to Jerusalem during Saladin’s conquest 200 years ago. The story of Maimonides tailored garment was told as a family legend, and he is referred to in the story as the physician of Saladin. Abu-Halaf reconstructed Maimonides attire using expensive fabrics made of pure gold threads and silk, which he imported from Damascus. The historical reference for the reproduction of Maimonides features and dress is the 1000 NIS banknote issued in Israel in 1983. The image on the bill is based on a fictional portrait dated presumably to the 18th century.
Maimonides Garment
Maimonides Garment (sculpture), jalabiya, turban, keffiyeh, shoulder bands made of cotton fabric, silk thread, woven damask fabric (silk and 14K gold), raw silk. Polyester cast (73’’x32’’x24’’ in), gold plated brass pendant inlaid with 1 NIS coin. 1000 NIS bill.
Maimonides Garment
The reference to the figure of Maimonides is the 1000 shekels note issued in Israel in 1983. The figure on the note is based on an imaginary portrait, probably painted in the 18th century. 
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