Pinchas Cohen Gan, Action in the Refugee Camp in Jericho, 1974

On 10 February 1974, Pinchas Cohen Gan carried out an action in the refugee camp located in Jericho’s northeast, near Hisham Palace. The camp had been virtually abandoned by its inhabitants after the war and declared a closed military zone. In the course of the action Cohen Gan delivered a lecture on “Israel in 2000” to an audience of two refugees, a handful of students who had accompanied him, and the sector commander, who had authorized the event in advance. In his lecture Cohen presented sketches of regional refugeeism conditions and said that “a refugee is person who cannot return to his homeland”. As part of the action a temporary shelter was built in the camp. Curator Marc Scheps wrote with reference to this action that Cohen Gan stages meaningful situations for which the surroundings serve as a backdrop, and thus he in effect creates a monologue whose aim is to define situations, not change them.[1]

From the artist’s journal, 10 February 1974: “This action was formulated over the past few years and actually took shape after the Yom Kippur War. The problem: giving spiritual and physical expression to the feelings of a person who is in a state of constant refugeeism. A legal ruling on the question of ‘who is a refugee’ or the UN’s definition of a refugee does not change his very existence and feelings regarding the territories in which he lived or through which he passed”.

23 April 1974: “This situation is the result of a balance between different entities in and outside our milieu”.

[1]  Marc Scheps, Pinchas Cohen Gan – Actions, Musag 1, April 1975.