Page 1

Non-standard testimonials International Artist Initiated – The Cyprus Dossier Curated by Peter Eramian 18 July - 30 August 2014 As an incomplete linguistic entity, the non-standard Greek Cypriot dialect offers itself to a nonrepresentational reading; clandestinely navigating the island's cultural identity under conditions of postglobal regimes that have once and for all outmoded such terms as 'local' and 'traditional'. The 21st century's reins of representation, long submitted to global market forces, orchestrate an experience of culture that is, predictably, increasingly hyper-standardized and hyper-saturated. Even the slightest allusion towards standard terms of cultural identity today risks conformity to this 'glocalized' experience, whereas anti-representational discourses are being subverted and contained as harmless offshoots. Non-standard dialects, such as the Cypriot dialect, that have not yet been codified and submitted to linguistic representation, still relying heavily on their affective impact to subsist, offer glimpses into non-representational human geographies adapted to the post-global condition yet without being of it. Presented are testimonials by Maria Toumazou, Natalie Yiaxi, Phanos Kyriacou and Stelios Kallinikou to the Cypriot experience via a geography of what happens, not of what is, forgoing any concepts of representation (such as local or global, subjective or objective, private or public, etc.) and inviting a nonstandard encounter. The works thus evade their legitimacy to represent Cyprus within the context of the Commonwealth Games and in doing so challenge the legitimacy of the Commonwealth project as a whole. The testimonials The pristine Hee Joon lamp was designed by Maria Toumazou and constructed by professional sign makers. A model ice skating rink looms over the viewer, upside down. Figure skating is the least likely sport to be practiced in the warm climate of Cyprus, nor is it an approved sport by the Commonwealth Games Federation; both at once a failed expectation and a Common absence. In contrast to the professional construction of the Hee Joon lamp, the ceramic vases, handmade by Maria, are incomplete and amateur. Three model water structures: a water well with an extending inverted hole, an aqueduct and a dam exposing their innards. The value of water is playfully juxtaposed as once a necessity for survival during bygone times in Cyprus and as frozen grounds for an internationalised recreational sport with absurd psycho-geographic climatic expectations; calling us to ponder at the cohabitation of the 'local' with the 'global' in post-global times. Penetrating this macro critique are two intimate prints of mysterious documented works, one of a floating ancient city (macro) and one of a shrunken hooded sweatshirt (micro), both lit up from the inside. Presented together, these three processes – that of the artist as designer, creator and documenter – designate the artist's role as one in constant flux between process and critique. Natalie Yiaxi's Posh Taro refers to one of many anagrams, sourced through a process of lexigramming, of the word 'athropos', which roughly translates as 'human being' in the Greek-Cypriot dialect. The decision to translate a 'non-standard' term using a 'non-standard' method of intuitive, pseudoscientific, conceptual writing, provokes a revaluation of the very nature of translation. The cultural specificity of the term 'athropos' delineates a very particular portrait of Cypriot identity, emphasized by the reference to 'Taro' in the title and on the cover (from traditional Cypriot cuisine). Yet, the frisky tone of Natalie's voice, embittered by biting references to social issues faced by the island's inhabitants, both at once denies and celebrates this identity. A love-hate anxiety is formed, resisting the temptation to sentimentalise a beloved identity in order not to neglect more pressing realities. The accompanying diary contains the making of Posh Taro in zine form, alluding to the raw marginalised social psychosis underpinning everyday contemporary life in Cyprus. Natalie concludes with Subjective Cartography, a participatory experiment based on the quote "forgetting is the ruin of memory" by Rebecca Solnit. Presented are the efforts of thirty six Cypriots who were asked to outline the map of Cyprus from memory (until 2008 the Cyprus flag was the only flag that displayed the map of the country, now also adopted by Kosovo), after which they were traced onto an accurate map, emphasizing the 'subjective'

spill that characterizes cultural identity as significantly different for every person, and thus never a 'complete' memory. In FatherFather fifteen colour-coordinated text posters translate five muted monologues by Phanos Kyriacou's father. The viewer is invited to participate in an exercise of translation, words and affect. Isolated, these monologues seem to be of trivial 'local' concern, meaning very little outside their contexts, especially to non-Cypriots. The decision to have them muted and extracted from the video effects a distilled aesthetic encounter, removing linguistic barriers and heightening the viewer's affective receptivity to the protagonist and his environment, a car repair garage. Universal clues are sought from within the minor idiosyncratic narratives – subtle gestures, unique expressions, unpredictable movements and exquisite details – that form the foundational yet mercurial organic architecture of what is often crudely simplified as 'cultural identity'. Returning to the text posters, their initial triviality may disclose a universal profundity previously unconsidered. A complex web of relations, both personal and social, private and public, intimate and relevant, expands outwards from Phanos to: his father, his father's relationship to his dog, the unique personalities he references in his stories, the non-standard Cypriot dialect and identity, and the viewer who is faced with an overwhelming exercise of translation that is bound to fail. Stelios Kallinikou presents a selection of photographs from his ongoing exploration of Lady's Mile, a family beach on the coast of the Akrotiri peninsula in Limassol, and the surrounding areas. The beach is located within the British Western Sovereign Base Area, one of two territories (the other being Dhekelia) controversially retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence. For many local Cypriot families Lady's Mile remains a beloved beach. Neither a place nor a non-place, neither Cypriot nor nonCypriot, Lady's Mile is more akin to a mutated dream set. South of the beach are the guarded RAF bases where fighter planes can often be seen and heard training; gigantic British radio-listening communication antennas loom over the landscape, their presence an ongoing heated concern for locals worried about radiation emissions; sand dunes are exploited by motocross enthusiasts and the open space by model airplane aficionados; vessels up to 250m long can be seen plodding in the north of the beach, where lies Cyprus' largest and busiest seaport, also an evacuation point for refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East; and lastly, the large marshy Akrotiri salt lake is only a few hundred meters away, considered one of the Eastern Mediterranean's most important wetlands, attracting thousands of wading birds and Greater Flamingos, stopping over during migration between Africa and Europe. These diverse cultural, historical, geographic and natural elements, coexisting side-by-side, conjure an otherworldy aesthetic that challenges our presuppositions of what makes up a geographic identity.

Profile for Peter Eramian

Non-standard Testimonials, July 2014  

Non-standard Testimonials, July 2014