in collaboration with George Marcou, curated by Michael Hadjistylis and Stefanos Roimpas
(the raw material, shredded pounds, provided by the Central Bank of Cyprus)
The End of the Cyprus Pound – Reflections on a Shredded Economy.
In beginning of 2014 George Marcou and myself were invited to work on an idea to participate at the Venice Biennal for architecture. Time was extremely short and we were asked to pose some concepts. In less than a month we developed under the umbrella of the curators Michael Hadjistylianis and Stefanos Roimpas, the project as it is presented here.
The Biennial’s theme for that particular year was “fundamentals” which most participating countries interpreted as building and construction fundamentals like walls, stairs, windows, doors etc. The curators had chosen the Anatomy of the wallpaper, and in particularly their story was an allegory. An historical document in which the wall paper functioned as a historical representation of time and space. Their installation was mounted layers of historical images of Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, in which the audience was invited to cut out and dig like archeologists through layers of time, events and histories, revealing the complex fabric of Cyprus.
The following text was written for our contribution of the installation.
Leonardo da Vinci once explained that: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movements, and strange expressions of faces and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms.”
As part of the ‘wallpaper’ allegory, the installation focuses on the narrative of the Cyprus currency’s replacement fol- lowed by its subsequent destruction and the necessity for understanding its meaning. This narrative is re-evaluated, re- interpreted and re appropriated as a springboard for engendering new landscapes using the shredded paper currency, a ubiquitous memento, as the building blocks for personal new topographies and reflections.
The Cyprus National currency, the Cypriot Pound, or ‘Lira’ in Greek was replaced by the Euro in January 2008. The Pound was an integral part of the identity Cyprus, since it was the first official currency after the island’s independence. It took only 6 short years for growth of the once prosperous economy and society to stall. This meant additional trouble for the strategically located Mediterranean island, already torn apart due to turbulent geopolitics, ethnic conflicts, war and ultimately division.
The key historical event of abandoning the national currency in favor of a global currency is currently revised and questioned, as a growing feeling of loss, is reinforced by the economy’s deterioration. The notes’ destruction by shredding has seemingly reduced them to a chaotic colorful amorphous pile of paper, stripped away of any value, let alone the nostalgic one, no longer burdened with unfulfilled promises or dreams. Perhaps Picasso’s words reverberate here that “every act of creation is first an act of destruction” , which can inspire the transformation of an inert material charged with memories, into a constructive positive force of change.
This exploration of the destroyed material sparks a new optimistic chapter in the allegory of the ‘wallpaper’ , subsequently reevaluating previous realities, eliminating tendencies which caused the erosion of hope. The resulting new topography offers an alternative dimension of ideas turning it into a vessel for introspection. Hence the installation attempts to illustrate the possibilities of turning a negative scenario into a positive action, embracing change instead of compulsively trying to preserve nostalgic emotions of what has been lost.
The installation explores; the colors, graphics, multiple scales, and shapes of the destroyed paper notes., rearranging the source material in multiple layers and dimensions in order to evoke the past and provoke a personal challenge in visual heuristics. This new chaotic field acts, as an agent provocateur, both as nostalgic reminder of ‘ a better era now long gone’ and an invitation to a journey of visual bias, into a personal interpretation of destruction, a future formed by the subjective and constant reinterpretation of the past, inducing new visions and hopes.
The surface protrusions and recessions in the work are open to subjective ways of interpretation by the viewer from different distances and angles, forming an individual experience of a chaotic landscape of mountains and valleys where a personal journey, either emotionally involved or emotionally detached towards an externalized overview, can let one experience a humble feeling of being small looking up the hills, or a sense of being untouchable on top of the world looking down from the mountains.
Da Vinci’s quotation can directly relate to the installation, in which he viewer is invited to let apophenia stimulate an array of patterns and connections regarding the contemporary situation of Cyprus from different points of view, a changed perception, reconstructing the building blocks to reinterpret and forecast a future which appears actually not as bleak as it seems.
McCurdy, E. (1955). The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. George Braziller New York.