Heidi Trautmann

748 - Confrontation through Art – Exhibition ‘Stepping over the Borders’

An art project by EMAA and Rooftop Theatre Group

 By Heidi Trautmann

It was the final show of Phase II on Friday 20 at EMAA’s in Nicosia, Phase II of the several months lasting project ‘Confrontation through Art’ under the EU funded programme ‘Cypriot Civil Society in Action’ implemented by EMAA (European Mediterranean Art Association) and RoofTop Theatre Group. For this phase artists were again invited to reflect on political facts, life and dreams along the border line dividing the Cypriot capital.

Phase II ‘Stepping over the Borders’ was curated by Başak Şenova (Turkey) and Alenka Gregorič (Slovenia) and they were joined by eight artists, four from Cyprus: Tuhkanen (Finland); Benjo Boyadgian (Finland/Palestine);  Nika Autor (Slovenia);  Ovidiou Anton (Austria/Romania);  Christina Georgiou(Cyprus);  Nurtane Karagil (Cyprus); Abdullah Denizhan (Cyprus) and Marinos Houtris (Cyprus).

The ‘voices’ of artists sound differently than those of any other visiting political, social, ethical experts, and they should never stop sounding as long as the borders exist: it is not only the physical border line but the border lines in our heads that prevent a feasible solution and therefore a confrontation, a mirror reflection to admonish the decision makers, to admonish all people, is the one and only but important tool artists hold in their hands.  Through their profession they have learnt to use their body senses, and can translate the things they see and feel into visionary answers.

For example, did the photographic/sound installation ‘Voicing the Line’ have a strong impact on the viewers of the exhibition. The exhibition hall was divided up to form a corridor with photos of both sides of Nicosia on each wall; in the middle of the corridor a band of flour or salt? was strewn, I have not tasted it,  and when you went through you heard the voices of the two - Greek and Turkish Cypriot - women walking along the buffer line calling each other by name, they could not see each other but they heard each other’s voices. It was actually planned as a video of 2 hrs and 30 min, but for the exhibition it made the expected impact nevertheless.

Another strong impression we gained from an installation, a sort of camera magica, rotating metal boxes through the slits of which you saw the scenes of life going on inside, or rather …on the other side.  Other artists have observed the ongoings at the checkpoint or have walked across the island and recorded stations of visual experiences in a sketchbook that was shown, nice pencil drawings; another asked himself the question… are the lemons in the south different to those in the north?  How are news constructed and what are they worth, a manipulated comparison of Turkish and Greek Cypriot newspapers. Interesting.

One artist cited Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: ‘None is more helplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free’ on his theme of an illusion of freedom.

Yes, they all have plunged deeply into the phenomenon of freedom, false freedom, border lines and…identity….’without the ability to divide we would not be able to distinguish one thing from another’….and they have realised that the word, the written word, propaganda, is mighty, mightier than the sword, as it was once said.

And, as my friend Ismet Tatar who had come with me to see the outcome of the workshop, said … ‘It is interesting to learn how the young artists are dealing with the phenomenon of border and how they interpret it.’


The exhibition will be open until 04 April 2015.

Voicing the Line
Voicing the Line

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