“Yom Ha’atzmaut” is the Hebrew name for Israel’s Independence Day. Israelis traditionally celebrate their national holiday by lighting up barbeques in every available green space. "Volovelsky-Karny Park” is a small, triangular, grassy area opposite Tel Aviv’s Central Train Station, choked between three major roads. In fact, the ‘Park’ is little more than a glorified traffic island and, as a result of its shape and unromantic position, has been named by locals as “The Genitalia of Tel Aviv”. Although an unlikely venue to choose for a celebration, on Yom Ha’atzmaut, the park is traditionally full with people partying and smoke from barbequed meat. I first came to photograph people celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut in the park in May 2012. Shortly afterwards, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, granted a permit for the homeless to set up a temporary camp on the site of the Park, whilst at the same time major road works began, involving the destruction of at least a third of the area of the Park. When I returned to the Park on Independence Day in 2013, a greatly reduced number of people celebrated uneasily, alongside the growing population of social activists, homeless and drug addicts that had set up camp there. By 2014, on an unusually overcast and oppressive Independence Day, on which the Park looked vaguely apocalyptic, only the stubborn or the uninformed still showed up to celebrate. As a result, the portraits taken on Yom Ha’atzmaut over the three years, unexpectedly depict a transition from celebration to neglect.
Yossi Cohen, 2012