Shahar Marcus: King of Falafel, video 2016

To make a falafel in the space above our atmosphere/ stratosphere,  erect a kiosk on the Moon to make it  is a grotesque amusement.  No wonder, it associates with the view on grotesque as rural amusement as recognised by William Wright in 1790.  The Moon is a special case of rural.  Falafel a special case of food drenched in history.  Both the falafel and the grotesque   have medieval roots, blossoming across national and cultural boundaries, at least in eleven different communities in the Middle East.

To take Falavel of  Iraqi Jewish Community in Baghdad and expand the business into the universe is unnecessary, unrewarding, useless. Touching Dada aesthetics, the narrative  constructs  the frame of incongruence  between a thin rational thought and a flood of irrational clashes. He loses the map for the Perfect Spot  when responding to his Mum’s call –  descends into despair, is told to switch to manual navigation, sneezes, and  as by a storm like force is taken away ending in a centre of a crater. The lens zooms on his laying body, partly  buried in the dust. He awakes,  and, magically,  sees the Perfect Spot  marked with a flag nearby.  Using his own survival kit, he disconnects his own oxygen supply to inflate the kiosk – butka.  Shows the sacrifice – like a proper hero- holding his breath while inflating the King of Falafel Kiosk. Out of nowhere, dishes with ingredients are at hand to start making the falafel.  The parody of control instructing the astronaut is well crafted:

“Commence music protocol”

“Proceed to pita preparation

Marcus ,do you read me. Do not overload, do not overload

I think we have lost the salad

Marcus, Tahina first, I repeat Tahina first. “

At this point the humour takes over before the decrescendo of reality kicks in : he holds the final product apart form his body as an offering – but there is nobody to take it.  He cannot eat that food either being sealed in the protective gear.  The end cannot escape a tragic discord  with all that enthusiasm of achievement.  The tradition crafted over centuries by more than eleven different cultural groups of people – is about to be wasted.

This humanistic pessimism about food and techology  is released with calm wisdom – no drama, rather a nod to philosophy  and ethics of sustainability.

It is therefore of interest to note that at present is the video is a part of exhibition “Things to Come” curated by Doreet LeVitte Harten (, from 14/04 0 20/08 2016). It is introduced thus:

Science fiction is a relatively new field that deals with the impact of imagined science and technology upon society and individuals. It is a controlled way to think and dream about the future, which at the same time reflects the values of the culture in which it is produced. It is through science fiction that existing social desires, cultural aspirations, and political and technological patterns manifest themselves. The imagined vision of the future speaks volumes about the present, and is always also anchored in the past.

As part of the exhibition ‘Things to Come’, Marcus exhibits his work “King of Falafel”. It is a continuation of Marcus’s video works that deal with Israeli cultural symbols, manifested by various food rituals. The current work takes place on the moon and depicts a fictional event – the opening of a new falafel stand. 

The text   is loose enough to work as an umbrella concept for any visual art that imaginatively alters science or technology, including this humorous parody on “globalisation of business – outside the globe”…Touching on a satire – the artist holds the last frame on the level of realization of limits.


He performs to a  camera –  in intractably particular asymmetry of ordinary – he on the Earth and in pretended space attire – the narrative centred on the Moon without an atmosphere and lot of dust.  And sudden wind that takes the map into -as-if- air…The asymmetry is accessible to senses of the viewer of the video – deepening the cognitive bias that the story is not compatible with life, unless it is art. Which it is, so it is gets off that hook.

The ending on the note of recognition, conscious judgement –  lets this video into the category of morality plays, even though the artist cannot be accused of moralising. Too light touch of his is incongruous with negative judgement in the view of all the humorous and attractive features.    While elliptical, it flows reasonably well to stay fresh until the end.

It is like amba just of the right consistency, carefully borrowed  from ancient Assyria, and optional for the modern falafel. As the control says to Marcus:

Initiate Amba protocol

Amba level is fine.

Marcus, this is a crucial pita. We are all in your hand






King of Falafel

The fully equipped astronaut ( Marcus) seeks the  “Best Location”.


Link to video and image courtesy of the artist.





About Slavka Sverakova

writer on art
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