NICOSIA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The UNCOVERED project is a three-year (2010-2013) research based art project, divided into two phases, and its area of investigation are the issues stemming from the prolonged condition of the closed Nicosia International Airport.
The project was initiated in 2010, based on Cypriot artist Vicky Pericleous’s idea for an artistic intervention at the Nicosia International Airport, subsequently submitted as a proposal to the UNDP-ACT by Özgül Ezgin and Argyro Toumazou parallel to the peace-negotiations process. Ezgin and Toumazou were providing art works for the conference room in which the peace talks were taking place since 2009. Yet, the airport project was an attempt to widen the art-based interventions to the process. Their aim was to experiment and produce presentations both for the conference rooms of the bi-communal peace talks, as well as site-specific interventions and panel discussions, open to the public. Following the initial state with the UN, two curators as Basak Senova and Pavlina Paraskevaidou have developed the proposal as a long-term research-based art and media project. In this respect, the concept of the project was shaped through their fields of interest and previous areas of research and practice.
by Basak Senova and Pavlina Paraskevaidou
Lying abandoned inside the buffer zone since July 1974, off limits for the local population, the Nicosia Airport represents a spatial order generated by 36 years of UN control . The airport is a riddle nested within paradoxical questions of protection – Protected. Unprotected. Covered. Uncovered. Protected for whom? Protected from whom? – It is a spatial lapse, an episode of total invisibility.
The Nicosia airport once served as the central port of entry and departure from the country. Now empty and protected from view, its former importance exists only in the islanders’ childhood memories. The novelty of its architecture, with its much-hailed new terminal, has acquired a rich patina of forgetting. A monument to a failed modernism, the airport embodies a history that is written only to be erased and re-written all over again. Due to the historical significance of the airport – along with its role in personal histories of division and survival in a state of suspended animation – there is no doubt that the airport – the building, the site, the land it occupies – plays a critical role in the construction of the island’s collective memory. UNCOVERED, then, places key importance on issues of memory and amnesia.
The project takes the physical texture and theoretical input of the airport and converts it into the space of the encounter for cultural producers from across the divided island during a critical time in the peace process. Attempting to move beyond the ubiquitous mnemonic to pain while attesting to the psychological and the matter-of-fact fragmentation experienced on either side and through the buffer zone, this encounter re-examines the shattered forms of politics exercised over space, challenges the validity of control mechanisms and seeks to ask those questions that can ultimately reclaim a “commons”.
UNCOVERED examines how the airport has been operating as a control mechanism for the island on multiple levels. The project explores how this space, frozen in time, indicates and exposes the operational and organizational logics of control that have evolved on the island over the past decades. One can even see it as an attempt to understand the ways protocols can be customized and complex systems can be manipulated by control mechanisms.
The airport has been suspended as a covered architecture in a prolonged state of crisis. In the island, the unresolved political situation has already legitimatized this constant state of crisis. Accordingly, the suspension itself ‘becomes both the subject and object of the conflicts of the political order’.
The multiple layers and the complexity of issues appertaining to the Cyprus Problem, have clearly distinguished this conflict from comparable geographies. The protracted division engenders greater problems and hinders the attempts for a peaceful resolution. Adjustments, revisions and concessions are in the daily order in the pursuit of reconciliation. In the same line of thought, the accumulative control mechanisms are customized, while space and power are modified accordingly.
With a closer look and research, the airport would manifest distinctive cultural, social, political, and psychological texture of the island. Therefore, we would like to examine how the airport has been operating as a control mechanism for the island in various levels.
 UNFICYP have been operational in Cyprus since 1964 following intercommunal violence on the island. Nicosia Airport was declared a United Nations Protected Area during the events of the war in July 1974.
 The “commons” were traditionally defined as the elements of the environment – forests, atmosphere, rivers, fisheries or grazing land – that are shared and used and enjoyed by all.
Although the project has been initiated by the UN in link with the peace talks, UNCOVERED has been developed by an independent structure. The developing team consisting of Vicky Pericleous, Ozgul Ezgin, Argyro Toumazou, Basak Senova and Pavlina Paraskevaidou. Anadolu Kultur has been supporting the project through Basak Senova. European Mediterranean Art Association (EMMA) and The Pharos Arts Foundation are the local partners of the project.
The project is open to contributions and collaborations internationally.
The first phase is dedicated to the local perspectives. Therefore, we work closely with the artists from the island to produce works that have the potential to produce discourse about the issues of “memory construction”, “commons”, and “control mechanisms” on many levels. This phase is also dedicated to data collecting. The first phase will be completed with an exhibition and a symposium.
The second phase will include other partners on international level and will focus on data processing and case analysis through panels, workshops, and publications. Furthermore, this phase will give priority for commissioning and presenting international art project in Cyprus and abroad in the context of the project while extending its facilities for the art production in Cyprus.
the data collecting process on Nicosia International Airport
A team for data collecting was gathered both from the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots. They have started to collect data about the airport along with some artists conducting interviews with the local people.
The data, collected has been indexed into 3 categories: visuals, text, and the building
The category of visuals has the subcategories of stills [photographs (private), newspaper images, magazine images, ads., drawings, brochures, and web-based images]; and moving images [interviews, films and videos, documentaries, project shootings, and TV]. The category of text has the subcategories of news [newspaper and magazine]; fiction [prose and poetry]; historical publications and academic publications. The last category is the building, which has two sub categories: architecture [history, interior architecture, plans, and site plans] and operation [transportation, security, customs, air traffic data, sales, facilities, units, administrative, medical unit, eating and shopping, toilets, and kitchen]. It is an on-going process, which is also being documented.
23 September – 23 October 2011
Opening: 23rd September, 7:00pm
Venue: Ledra Street/Lockmaci Buffer zone
Hours: 10am-8pm, daily (except Mondays)
Guided Tour of the exhibition: 24 September
Venue: Ledra Street/Lockmaci, Buffer Zone
Given in English by the curators and the artists
Curators: Pavlina Paraskevaidou and Basak Senova
Artists: Vicky Pericleous, Erhan Öze, Andreas Savva, Socratis Socratous, Demetris Taliotis, Constantinos Taliotis, Orestis Lambrou, Özge Ertanın, Oya Silbery. Zehra Sonya, Görkem Müniroglu, Emre Yazgın
Designers: Xenios Symeonides and Gökçe Sekeroglu in collaboration with NOMAD
Artist booklets: Erhan Öze (Booklet #1) and Zehra Sonya (booklet #2)
Panel Discussion: 24th September
Venue: Home for Cooperation Buffer zone
The panel on September 24th, 2011 aims to bring together various speakers from the fields of art, law and politics for a series of talks on the issues that the project investigates with comparative cases.
European-Mediterranean Art Association
The Pharos Arts Foundation
The artist booklets and website are designed by NOMAD.
The printing of the book and all accompanying publications is sponsored by the Phileleftheros Group.
The first panel and book is in part supported by the Open Society Foundation.
The first panel is hosted by the Home for Cooperation.
Catering is sponsored by Cafe Biyer and Azbom Bakery.
supports for the first exhibition
The first exhibition was presented under the auspices of the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Cyprus and with the support of UNDP-ACT.
The venue is hosted by the Kykkos Monastery.
Computers are sponsored by Trace Computer Ltd.