In the framework of the programme commemorating the 50th anniversary of Cypriot
Independence, a large retrospective exhibition is organized as a tribute to the 40 years of
participation of Cyprus in the Venice Biennial of Art, from 1968 to 2009.
Marking 115 years since its inauguration, the Venice Biennale of Visual Arts is still considered
to be one of the most significant artistic events on the calendar, and every two years the
City of Venice becomes the epicenter of the international art world, the media, and the artloving
Cyprus first joined this massive art celebration in 1968 with six young artists, demonstrating all
the cultural and artistic dynamism of a new State. The intractable socio-political circumstances
on the island during the following period led to a long absence, until 1986 when the national
participation resumed, continuing almost uninterrupted until today, under the responsibility
of the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
This exhibition primarily seeks to acquaint a wider local audience with the institution of the
Venice Biennale, and the works of the artists who have represented Cyprus up until today.
On another level, it attempts to place these contributions in a historical context, in relation
to the course of contemporary art in Cyprus during the post-independence period as well as
in relation to the developing course of the biennial. Furthermore, it investigates prevailing
narratives and discourses, both within works in the national pavilion and in connection with
international debates in theory and criticism; and finally, it collects and reconstitutes ‘lost’
sources and archival material associated with the Cypriot participation, while trying to outline
the distinctive profile of the event itself.
This retrospective follows a multi-level approach, including an historical section, a series of
theoretical discussions, and a subsequent extensive publication. The conscious effort here is
not to faithfully reproduce all the national pavilion shows, but rather to convey the essence of
the original presentations, while highlighting the historicity of the whole course.