Five door mats
508 x 307 cm
Five large door mats, each featuring an outline of a footprint, laid one after another to mark out five human steps.
The work refers to five "foot enclosures" located in the Jordan Valley, all of which, when viewed from above, appear to be in the shape of a giant foot (or sandal). The five complexes, unique in the ancient Near East, were discovered during the Menasseh Hill Survey led by archaeologist Adam Zertal since 1978. According to Zertal, these are the biblical "gilgal" sites – early ritual places of the tribes of Israel – whose form gave birth to the concept of pilgrimage (“ascent by foot” in Hebrew), later transformed from a physical to an ideological act with the construction of the Temple. The foot, Zertal has argued, was also a national and religious symbol of the nation of Israel.
In her work, Littwitz addresses the meanings of feet in the Bible and Egyptian culture. "Every place on which the sole of your foot steps, I have given it to you," reads Joshua 1:3 – one of many biblical examples of “foot” as an expression of territorial ownership, holiness and the connection between the people and the land. In art and writings from the ancient Near East it was common to depict a defeated enemy as having been trampled underfoot.
Researchers and commentators still disagree about the function of the foot enclosures, and this seems to be one of the reasons why Littwitz was drawn to them – as an artist who constantly wrestles with controversial, unresolved issues that spark debate, alongside her ongoing engagement with archeological, biblical, interpretive, and historical themes. The power and territoriality that the foot symbolizes, and the concept that the tribes set out from the foot sites to conquer the whole land, charge Littwitz’s work with immediate political significance.