Duplicating Palestine

Space p11, 05 Mar–29 Apr 2022

Palestine Park is a scale model of Palestine built in 1874 as an instructional tool on the grounds of the first Chautauqua Assembly, on the shores of Chautauqua Lake, NY. Built merely a year before the foundation of the first Zionist colony in Palestine, the model is a Biblical and Christian-oriented depiction of that land.

The model serves, in this work, as a starting point for an investigation and comparison of the colonial traditions of two geographies: The land it depicts, and the area where it is located.

In 1875 Eliezer Roke’ah, the leader of a Jewish group of the Old Yishuv in Safed, bought half the lands of the Arab village Jaauneh (Al-Ja'una). Roke’ah would later create a new colony on these lands called Gei Oni - a Hebrew adaption of the Arabic name. In his actions, Roke’ah set precedent for the Zionist colonies that would appear across Palestine in the next decade. He also began the practice of naming new Zionists settlements in Hebrew by adapting the previous Arab local names. The people of Jaauneh were violently displaced by the Israeli military in 1949. The Israeli town of Rosh Pinna currently occupies the village lands.
It is conflicted whether the name Chautauqua is based on the Seneca phrase ga-jah ga-dah-gwah which means - ‘place from which the fish was taken’, or rather on Johdo:Gwëh which means - ‘where the great serpent emerged’. In 1715, at the end of the Tuscarora War in North Carolina and the beginning of the Tuscarora displacement and migration to New York, one of the villages destroyed by Swiss settlers was called Chattoka, at the site of today’s New Bern, NC. It is suggested, regardless of the meaning of the name, that it was brought to New York by the Tuscarora migration, evoking a memory of a previous home.

This is the first installation of an ongoing project.

The Point of Beginning

The Beginning Point of the U.S. Public Land Survey is the point from which the United States in 1785 began the formal survey of the lands known then as the Northwest Territory, now making up all or part of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The survey is claimed to be the first major cadastral survey undertaken by any nation. The point now lies underwater on the state line between Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Image source: Google Maps

Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal

In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, silver peace medals were presented to Native leaders by presidents or their representatives as a sign of friendship and the promise that the U.S. government would honor treaties. Tragically, every treaty was broken, changed, or nullified when it served the government’s interests. For many Native people, peace medals came to symbolize broken promises. For others, they became status objects that were incorporated into traditional ornaments.

Source: The Brooklyn Museum

Seal of Madison County, New York

The Madison County DMV building, Wampsville, NY

Issachar Shadmi paying a fine of 1 cent

In 1956, Issachar Shadmi was the Israeli commanding officer of the brigade responsible for the Kafr Qasim massacre. 49 people were killed (including 6 women and 24 children) by Israel Border Police, for violating a curfew they were not notified of.

The border policemen who were involved in the shooting were brought to trial and found guilty and sentenced to prison terms, but all received pardons and were released in a year.

Shadmi was found innocent of murder and received a symbolic fine of 10 prutot (one Israeli cent).

Aerial view of Ramle, Palestine, 1947. Original and magnification. Image from the Collection of the Palmach Squadron.

Ramle, Israel, 2021

View of Esdud, Palestine, 1917. The 304th Bavarian Squadron Collection.

The eruv of Ashdod, Israel, 2021

Tiles for the classes of 1882, 1895, and 1901. Hall of Philosophy, Chautauqua Institute, NY.