Jerusalem Dresses Up Its Landmarks With Fantastical Beasts for Purim
Costumer and designer Adi Anna Telezhynski takes TML on a tour of the massive installations adorning famous landmarks that have caused quite a stir in the capital
To mark this year’s colorful Jewish festival of Purim, taking place this week, the Jerusalem municipality invited renowned artist and costume designer Adi Anna Telezhynski to dress six landmark buildings across the city.
“The municipality of Jerusalem contacted me to make … costumes for buildings,” Telezhynski told The Media Line during a tour of the installations. “Some of them are monsters that are eating buildings, and some of them are monsters that are possessing the buildings from inside, and a few of them are birds that are very costumey.”
Purim is a joyous commemoration of the Biblical story of The Book of Esther, which narrates how the eponymous queen of ancient Persia rescued her fellow Jews from mass slaughter at the hands of Haman, the viceroy of her husband King Ahasuerus.
Often referred to as “Jewish Halloween,” the holiday involves wearing bright costumes, participating in celebratory parades and eating the traditional hamantaschen, a triangular pastry filled with dates, chocolate or poppy seeds.
The massive installations went up last week, after a months-long creation process that involved many talented designers from Israel and further afield.
“For this project I [had] an illustrator, an industrial designer, and a 3D modeler, and of course the factory where we actually sew it abroad,” Telezhynski said.
While all the designs are eye-catching, perhaps the one that stands out the most is the purple monster on the side of the Beit Ha’am building, which is part of the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design where Telezhynski herself studied.
“This one was designed to be kind of the spirit of the building. When I approach this kind of temporary sculpture I take into consideration the architecture,” she said of the monster.
“There’s a really close relationship between the building’s architecture and the design of the creature itself.”
Telezhynski insists the monster is female. “Look at those eyelashes!”
Each decoration has its own unique character, drawing inspiration from the design of the individual buildings and their environment.
“I … take into consideration the history of the building, and who is going to see it, and eventually it’s something that should be friendly and happy and accessible to everybody from grownups to kids,” the designer said.
“The whole process of the design of these creatures is taking Purim into consideration obviously, being very colorful, being family friendly, being whimsical and humorous and funny and light.”
The 38-year-old Ukrainian-born designer has achieved great success in her field, but originally studied computer science at Tel Aviv University. She worked in high-tech after graduation, including a brief sojourn in Sydney, Australia, before returning to her studies at Bezalel in order to pursue her first love.
Telezhynski also designs the costumes for Israel’s version of the hit reality show The Masked Singer, in which contestants wear intricate and outlandish costumes to hide their identity. She drew a comparison between the process to create the outfits the contestants wear on the program and the installations she produced for Purim.
“The two design processes start similarly in the sense of the research,” she said, paying tribute to the two different teams who play a critical role on the two different projects.
Her designs for the show’s costumes blend her former profession and her new in the creative process.
“I incorporate technology in the development process of the designs,” Telezhynski told The Media Line. “In the fabrication [with] 3D printing, laser cutting, and also in the designs themselves. I make costumes that are fully robotic,” she said.
“We have this character, the spider, and we developed a mechanism with eight legs that is powered by a motor and has a car battery, and it moves like a real spider. [The contestant] controlled it with a little dial on her little finger; it’s animatronics.”
Other edifices in the capital graced with Telezhynski’s designs include the headquarters of the Jerusalem Venture Partners, the venture capital fund founded by Israel’s most famous entrepreneur Erel Margalit; the former home of Shaare Zedek Hospital, a listed building that is now home to the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation; and the Jerusalem municipality complex itself.
The latter two installations are of large colorful birds standing on the roof.
“I wanted to put some creatures on rooftops that can communicate with the fact that we are in the open air,” Telezhynski explained. “Maybe they landed from the sky for a little bit just for Purim.”