The installation; “National Identity or the Failure of the Truth”, explores the existence of historical traces, evidences of leftovers of political propaganda in peoples’ unconsciousness. The work was made in 2003. Still in that time the political system had questionable elements of repression and propaganda in it, perhaps a continuation of the past. The installation is researching these relations with the past and digs in the participants minds for fragments of existence of what remains from that.
The Cyprus situation was an ideal territory to research how a society has been restrained of fair information by a government in order to keep control over the majority of people. How convenient biased interpretations repetitively were told for almost 4 decades by all the ruling governments to the constituents of the island, so that a whole nation started to embrace these faulty and mutilated stories as common knowledge and facts. All governments at that moment on the divided Island of Cyprus were blaming continuously the Cyprus problem as a scapegoat for their own incompetence and unwillingness to change the situation. The church of Cyprus was backing up these fabricated take on the situation by confirming this questionable rhetoric and was actively influencing the electorate during election periods.
The installation shows 3 monitors in silence. The Cypriots on the screens are listening to questions which the viewer cannot hear. The questions (more demands actually) are following a sequence. There are two types of questions which are alternated asked. “Think of … ?” and “Imagine that … ?”
It starts very innocent with easy and safe content. But soon sharper things are put inside. Things of sexual nature are being followed by highly political questions. As an example: ”Think about your first kiss.” Versus “Imagine your parents having sex.” & “Imagine you are eating a nice fish ‘meze’ (fish table) at the beach side.”Versus“Think about killing the rapist of your mother.”
Each sentence takes around 4 seconds followed by silence for 25 seconds. The partakers are placed in a very uncomfortable situation. A chair with a stationary camera frontal placed to record their face and a strong light pointed upon their face. The atmosphere reconstructs a condition comparable to an interrogation. The participants were instructed to refrain themselves of showing any emotions. To not react at all and to not communicate during this session. Interestingly enough after 5 minutes nobody can hide their inner thoughts anymore. The silent faces starting to speak stories through mimic.
At the exhibition on the wall were in pencil written the 50 questions in one sentence of 3 meter. The letters were approximately 8mm high.
Years of propaganda, manipulation by governments and religious institutes, manipulated by a fully controlled media, an audience which starts to reflect a fake self image created by the political engine of a country, of any country? Two questions remain: “Who am I?” & “ Who are you?”
The exhibition space was cold illuminated with TL lights. The room temperature was increased to a uncomfortable hot and pressing humidity. There was a strong smell of anti-bacterial detergent, not unlike old hospitals. The monitors, originally intended to be security monitors were placed as evidence on the ground. Suggesting that this event is in realtime taking place in one of the rooms of the building. The audience thereby turn into witnesses, but also involuntarily shares the responsibilities of approving someone to interrogate peer citizens, for whatever reason. Questions comes to mind of; “Do we accept our governments to influence their ideas upon fellow citizens” and “what is our responsibility in this?” – ” Do we agree upon the methods our governments are using?” – “What is our role in this?” – “Do we care anyway?”