By Heidi Trautmann
The belt right through Nicosia’s old city map represents for many of us blank unknown spaces but are for many citizens of the older generation a net of memories forever embedded in their mind and heart. I saw some of those old shop owners on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition “Nicosia – Topographies of Memory” at the House of Cooperation within the Buffer Zone. The exhibition is based on the research work of Anita Bakshi, and, if I understood correctly, it was a research project for her thesis in architecture; the work and presentation was supported by quite a number of institutions, unions and associations, such as: the European Union which did the funding and UNDP-Partnership for the Future, the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research’s (AHDR). It was mentioned that the project is under the same organisational roof as the recent renovations of the Nicosian Bandabuliya.
Alessandra Viezzer, Head of the Programme Team at the European Commission gave an introductory speech about the exhibition. Speaking on behalf of the Home for Cooperation, was Rana Zincir Celal, an independent philanthropy professional acting as project advisor for the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research and she said, “We are delighted to see such a diverse crowd come out for this event. It shows that there is a genuine interest in learning about the history of our city, and to approach even the sensitive aspects of our past.” …And there was an illustrious crowd of people having a close look at the puzzle work of the area in discussion.
The area of Ermou Street which today is hidden in shadows of the past in the buffer zone, was once the busiest business street full of life, full of people of different nationalities. Anita Bakshi on her road of research to knowledge, met with some of those inhabitants or shop owners and slowly they filled the blank areas with their stories and photos.
We heard some of these stories from a coffee shop owner, a tailor and a pretty granddaughter telling us of the memories of her grandfather. At the end all of them said to the guests of the vernissage that in the past they had got along well and they would love to see this street come alive again and with it peace and understanding.
Architectural drawings were pinned to the walls focusing on the area with houses drawn and names put in and I could read in the faces of the viewers with their fingertips wandering along on the paper: “Do you remember, oh yes, this was So-and-so’s shop, I wonder what has become of him…”
A funny atmosphere, for a moment time was not important.
The exhibition will be open until September 20, 2012
For further information and inquiries:
Tel: +90 542 8506681/+357 22445740
Web: www.home4cooperation.info/www.ahdr.info / www.undp-pff.org
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