United Nations Protected Area, Cyprus
2010 - 2013

the project

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 by Özgül Ezgin and Argyro Toumazou parallel to the peace-negotiations process. For the last 12 months, Ezgin and Toumazou have been providing art works for the conference room in which the peace talks were taking place. 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.

the concept

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 [1]. 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”.[2]

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.

Basak Senova and Pavlina Paraskevaidou

[1] 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.
[2] 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.

the structure

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. UNDP is expected to grant and support the project. 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 phases

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.

the commissioned projects for the first phase

For the first phase, after a research process by the curators, 8 project proposals of the Cypriot artists were selected by the curators and then, commissioned.

project #1
Erhan Öze (architect/artist)
His project focuses on the relationship between legal and illegal forms of power as exerted through particular electromagnetic interferences within and around Cyprus.

project #2
Zehra Sonya (artist) & Gür Genç (writer)
Their project is based on objects found in the airport. These stories blend reality with fiction with a documentary tone.

project #3
Görkem Müniroglu (artist) & Emre Yazgin (sound engineer)
They collect sound samples both from Larnaca and Ercan Airports and processing them into a room/booth as the virtual acoustical space of the Nicosia International Airport.

project #4
Özge Ertanın (artist) & Oya Silbery (artist)
They work on a website which would operate as the actual website of the Nicosia International Airport as if it is used.

project #5
Xenios Symeonides (graphic designer)
He is responsible from data visualization and the posters.
Gökçe Sekeroglu (graphic designer)
She is responsible from the corporate identity and visual language of the project.

project #6
Demetris Taliotis, Constantinos Taliotis & Orestis Lambrou (artist group)
Their project proposes a fully functional car park outside the Nicosia Airport exploring notions and functions of the space.

project #7
Socratis Socratous (artist)
Socratous' project examines the role of the UN in Cyprus.

project #8
Vicky Pericleous (artist)
Pericleous proposes fragmented narratives that will include a photo collage in the dailypress and a video based on these narratives in the exhibition.


Pavlina Paraskevaidou
Basak Senova

project coordinators
Ozgul Ezgin
Argyro Toumazou

development team
Ozgul Ezgin
Pavlina Paraskevaidou
Vicky Periclous
Basak Senova
Argyro Toumazou

visual identity
Gökçe Sekeroglu
Xenios Symeonides

Brad Fox

data collecting team
Özge Ertanin
Eleni Flouri
Görkem Müniroglu
Polys Peslikas
Oya Silbery
Zehra Sonya
Maria Tsangaride

European-Mediterranean Art Association
The Pharos Arts Foundation
Anadolu Kultur