While We Wait by Elias & Yousef Anastas

Bethlehem-based architects Elias & Yousef Anastas have been commissioned by the V&A to create While We Wait – a meditative installation made of over 500 modules of stone from Palestine.

While We Wait is a meditative installation about the cultural claim over nature in Palestine. The towering structure consists of elements of stone from different regions of Palestine, fading upwards in colour from earthy red to pale limestone.

While We Wait installation render, 2017. © Elias & Yousef Anastas

The stone is shaped by radically combining traditional local stone cutting and masonry techniques with contemporary technology. Designed on a computer, cut by robots and hand-finished by local artisans, it presents a modern stone construction technique as part of a local and global architectural language. This process of 'stereotomy' – the art of cutting stones so they can be assembled into a larger configuration, a lacelike structure able to support itself entirely – is central to the work of the Anastas brothers.

While We Wait (detail), 2017. © Elias & Yousef Anastas

The gaps between the stones allow viewers to look outside of the structure, while evocative sound and video components encourage them to imagine the natural surroundings from where the stone was sourced, and to where the installation will eventually return.

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While We Wait is inspired by the Cremisan Valley, near Bethlehem, where a separation wall is currently being built, threatening to sever the historic link between the valley and its monastery. In contrast to the concrete separation wall, which divides the landscape, this installation will venerate extreme natural beauty and evoke the Cremisan Valley itself, its eventual home. The use of stone highlights the value of nature in the Cremisan Valley by paying tribute to its durability.

View of the Cremisan Valley. Photograph by Mikaela Burstow

While We Wait will be displayed in the Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64b, The Simon Sainsbury Gallery, Level 2 from 16 – 24 September 2017. Following this, the work will travel to Concrete, a multi-disciplinary space in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, where it will be on display from 6th–18th November during Dubai Design Week.

Returning to the very landscape by which it was inspired, While We Wait is destined to be installed permanently in the Cremisan Valley, where it will act as a live monument and gathering space owned by the community, and supported by a cultural programme.

Supported by Concrete, Dubai.