Passersby in Jerusalem's Zion Square were surprised on Monday morning, when they discovered a large sculpture at the center, composed entirely of the inscription "I ♥ JLM." The new sculpture allowed the capital of Israel to join a number of world hubs that have placed similar sculptures at their center.
"I was pleasantly surprised, it looked good and impressive," said a resident of the city. "It's really true, I do Love Jerusalem."
The statue was placed in the Zion Square just in time for the Jewish holiday of love, Tu B'Av, which fell on Monday. The sculpture is about two meters high and six meters long, and was created by Jerusalem designer Yarel Yair for the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority and Moriah Company.
"The idea behind it is that Jerusalem—which has a glorious past and history and is rooted in the past—faces the future and receives new influences, welcomes them, takes them in and looks ahead," said Yair. "I am a Jerusalem artist who grew up in the graffiti era, which used to be subversive and then slowly became mainstream, as is was studied and influenced an entire generation.
"It was the culture of quiet artistic protest, which allows for a social and communal stage. Graffiti was the Facebook of the 1970s.
"All the streets around the installation are historical," added Yair. "Streets where armies passed through, and now the present and the future are marching through them."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat responded to the sculpture's installation by saying that "everyone loves Jerusalem, and Jerusalem loves them all. The new installation symbolizes Jerusalem's unique place for each and every one, and I invite the city's residents, visitors and tourists to visit Jerusalem, enjoy themselves in it and photograph themselves at the special installation."
For the love of giant statues
The new Jerusalem sculpture is reminiscent of many others around the world, all of which have become major tourist attractions. One of the more famous among these sculptures is the "I Amsterdam" near the Rijksmuseum, considered to be one of the more photographed spots in the Netherlands capital.
As the I ♥ JLM sculpture was placed in Jerusalem on the occasion of Tu B'Av, it also conjures up the image of the famous "Love" sculpture by US artist Robert Indiana. Although its original version was erected at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and another stands in Philadelphia, the most familiar of them was already on display in 1970 on Sixth Avenue and 55th Street in New York City. The famous Hebrew version of the sculpture can be found at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.