Tohu & Vohu

Video for the online exhibition «The Ararat Collective’s Guide to Surviving the Pandemic», 2021

Animated short about two characters that interact with objects related to Israel and COVID-19. They go through three stages, from stepping back to stepping in, that follow the biblical terms Shmita, Tohu VaBohu and Ararat. A text accompanying the video quotes Jewish Sources that navigate through senses of each term.


«He formed substance out of tohu / and made nonexistence into existence / He sculpted great pillars from air / that cannot be grasped.» (Sefer Yetzirah Gra Version 2:6)

«And the earth was tohu and vohu, and darkness came off the face of the water, and a wind from God blew over the face of the water.»  (Genesis 1:2)

«Tohu (…) was merely something which had potential (…) not yet having materialised (…) these phenomena did not exist in reality, only in someone’s imagination. The appearance of this primordial raw material is (…) vohu, meaning that as such it came to exist in actual fact.» (Sforno)

«In the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest (…) Do not sow your fields (…) Do not reap what grows of itself.» (Leviticus 25:1-4)

«Tohu is a green line that encompasses the entire world, and from which darkness emerges (…) Vohu are damp stones submerged in the depths, from which water emerges». (Talmud, Chagigah 12a:7)

«God remembered Noah and (…) caused a wind to blow across the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep (…) were stopped up (…) so that (…) the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.» (Genesis 8:4)

«[The] “green line” (…) is nothing other than (…) the intense darkness experienced immediately before the beginning of dawn.» (Radak)

Tomi & Varela are new immigrants from Argentina in Israel. Locked at the immigrants center during COVID-19, they discuss their future while outside, Jerusalem’s nature grows beyond the ability to grasp.