Unresolved Issues: Reaching Across the Table
Alexandra Ben-Abba’s Reaching Across the Table: Visit to Hebron is part of an ongoing series that integrates installation, happening, and experimentation in art-making and art-gathering. In it, a table is set for a feast. The table settings, however, have been modified by the artist’s hand, altering the functionality of dishes, glasses, and utensils, while new forms of dishes—shaped out of found objects—also grace the table. A dinner takes place, and—as guests adapt to the experience of dining on altered table settings—an unscripted conversation emerges. In Visit to Hebron, dishes handmade in the Palestinian city of Hebron by the Natsheh family of glassblowers are brought to the table and placed with objects that hark to the volatile and unsustainable state of existence there. The artist aims to create opportunities for communion and kinship by devising a shared experience framed by the intimacy of handmade objects, disrupted habits of use, and the communal act of dining. Though the dinner table is an isolated microcosm bearing no consequence on the realities faced by Israelis and Palestinians, it offers space for open dialogue and, in place of resolution, hope.