The Double Phenomenon of Survival of a vernacular street in Israel: the Survival of the Street in the city and its Images throughout the Shopping Malls
Malka Ben-Peshat (The Teachers' College of Technology in Tel-Aviv) [BIO]
In a former study based on semiotic analysis, I have shown that a typical commercial main street, spread out in many cities and towns in Israel has aspects of modern vernacular design. The street was crystallized gradually by additional components since the 1950s, out of the local conditions and genuine needs. It grew out of popular cultural climate and under social conditions of urban low middle class, on the background of an overall multicultural society. The cultural climate could be characterized as - rejection, eclectic appropriation and adaptation. The sterile modernism that was imposed by national establishments during the 1950s has been rejected and replaced by multicultural features being an outcome of eclectic appropriation from the local Palestinian popular culture and imported western modern and global elements. Finally, it was adapted into local needs and social aspiration, creating by that a sense of belonging to a place.
Apparently, the commercial segments in this modern vernacular street have survived the big wave of shopping malls that began in Israel in the mid 1980s. Since then, almost 200 shopping malls were built and another 50 are planned to be build in the future. Non the less, as a result, the commercial segments are very much weaken and even endangered by this huge number of shopping malls, without proportion to the size of population in Israel.
However, most of the components comprising this type of a street have acquired the status of popular icons in the sense that they are being admired in popular songs or conceptualized in exhibitions, reflected in ads, or even revived in a reality TV show. Certain components of the street have been “reenacted” and swollen in the “simulacrum” street set of the shopping malls, such as theatrical sidewalks, name of streets signage, certain commercial points, such as lottery stands, or the Pizuzia-Pizuchia stands selling all kind of nuts, candy and grains.
In this paper, I intend to present my research on this double phenomenon of survival: the survival of typical Vernacular Street throughout the Israeli cities and the survival of some of its images in the simulacrum of the shopping malls. Based on semiotic analysis I will present two main questions as to the meanings of this phenomenon: What does the phenomenon of vernacular street images survival throughout the malls mean in relation to the future survival of the actual street? Can the survival of some of its images throughout the malls replace the actual vernacular street in the sense of creating a new local environment, including a sense of belonging?