GAU University – Faculty of
Architecture and a project in several steps
By Heidi Trautmann
A project to honour the history
of buildings, the history of people who
have lived there and have raised families, families that have gone through good
and problematic times, have shared the past of their country. Old deserted places, homes, official
buildings, hotels, churches can tell many stories, alone by researching the
little leftovers of a life lived. Of those old deserted places we have a lot in
Cyprus and how often have I thought to myself while wandering through some
parts of the Old City of Nicosia, what a beautiful old building and I wondered
what destiny was hidden behind the blind windows.
Such a building is in the
Kamil Pasha Street No. 3, mansion of the Muftu Haci Ali Rifki family for over
hundred years in their possession. GAU University has started to renovate
historical buildings in the old quarters such as the Armenian Abbey and the
Arabahmet Cultural Centre but before starting the measures it was thought to
pause and stand still for a moment in memory of the past and show mementoes to
the public which represent the history of Cyprus. The building had not been
lived in for a long time and as one of the descendants of the Rifki family was
explaining to us on the occasion of the opening, “I have not dared to change
anything of our past, it was precious to us with all its memories.”
The project initiator, Ms.
Toya Akpınar in cooperation with the Architecture Dept. at the GAU, Girne
American University, has had a project in mind and she grasped at the
opportunity and organised an exhibition that would show the history of the
building as well of the country.
There were photos and artefacts from the rich
family archive and combined with the art work created by 17 local artists in
the form of architectural research, ceramic art, soundscapes and other
disciplines. A modern understanding of art project on the basis of history.
The artists were: Mehmet Adil, Toya Akpınar, Aslihan Aldis, Kim
Bennett, Idil Gelic Canates, Alessandro Camiz, Sevim
Erdal, Sinem Ertaner, Nabil Khoury,
Hassina Nafa, Waheed Nazzal, Senol Ozdevrim,
Lutz Presser, Hossein Sadri, Bugu Sah, Sibel Kemal Uzun, Cem
event took place in the evening at the light of the moon and candle light, the
reception was in the narrow lane in the Arabahmet quarter, and only a handful of guests were accepted
into the house which was lit by candle light only which augmented the
excitement and mysterious atmosphere.
The second event of the project was carried out just recently in April by
a group of artists including Hossein
Sadri, Senem Zeybekoğlu Sadri, Toya Akpınar, Sinem Ertaner, Mehmet Adil,
Lutz Presser, Alessandro Camiz, Kutsal Öztürk, Waheed Nazzal, Aynaz Lotfata and
25 students of architecture, all under the roof of the GAU. They have chosen the Panagia
Chrysotrimithiotissa Church in Edremit, a similarly precious building of the past,
left empty for many years now but which held for myself a lot of memories: My
artist friends and I, part of the Thursday Art Group, have worked in this
church from 2001 until 2006; we have used this space so full of atmosphere to
paint and have exhibitions; also theatre rehearsals had taken place.
GAU artists with their students have again worked together for many months to
create an artistic memento of history awareness. Weird, absolutely weird, to
enter the hall plunged in darkness with black material hanging from the ceiling
along all walls and behind those curtains symbols of transcience, the fragility of existence, the
past covered under layers of dust. Proof
of existence by things left behind like steps frozen in mud or rotten
next step will be shown in one of the coming months, a very special one as it
includes a political and social entity.