Feature – Exploring crisis through art
20.12.2012, 13:24 (CET)
In the framework of the Cyprus Presidency, the contemporary art exhibition entitled ‘Terra Mediterranea – In Crisis’ sees a dynamic group of artists from Cyprus, the surrounding area and beyond, use their artwork to scrutinise and reflect on the concept and manifestations of crisis. Viewed especially through ‘Mediterranean’ eyes, from both a political as well as poetic stance, the 41 artists intrigue, challenge, provoke and at times even shock, in an exhibition which explores the universal sociopolitical and economic environment. Located at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and opened in July of this year, the exhibition will run until the summer of 2013.

Terra Mediterranea – In Crisis is a contemporary art programme that has been taking place during the six months of the Cyprus Presidency and will continue until July 21 2013. The programme consists of two art exhibitions as well as an accompanying educational and academic programme.

Organised by the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and the Pierides Foundation under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, the project also includes a special edition of the journal ‘The Cyprus Dossier’, a monthly series of social and food events and a number of interventions in public spaces.

Detecting, investigating and presenting

Curated by Mr. Yiannis Toumazis, the ‘In Crisis’ contemporary art exhibition forms the centerpiece of the programme.

“The exhibition at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre aims at detecting, investigating and presenting contemporary artists’ reflections on today’s universal landscape of economic, political, religious, social, but also deeply existential crisis of identity,” says Mr. Toumazis.

Looking at it from the outside, the old Lefkosia (Nicosia) power station, which is the building that houses the exhibition, offers little indication as to what visitors can expect inside.

While a combination of sounds coming from the interactive installations and video performances of the exhibition reverberate beyond the walls of the building, the wide range and fascinating character of the artworks only becomes apparent after spending a few minutes exploring inside.

Variety of artwork on display

The variety of artworks is impressive in itself – a range of different installations, video stills and video installations, mixed media installations, digital slideshows and more.

To the right of the main entrance, an intriguing visual image of a see-through ball in which three figures seemingly trying to run away hand-in-hand is projected onto a wall. The ball, balancing on a digitally-created plank swinging atop of a mini-pyramid, provides the impression that it will fall from the wooden plank, but never does.

Further along, a ‘garden’ of old and moldy pitta bread leads to a wall where a variety of different, mostly female, figures stereotypically associated with the Mediterranean, are drawn in religious or traditional dress.

In another of the exhibition’s many rooms in the imposing structure of the Arts Centre, a pitch black inflatable castle leaves a rather eerie feel. Elsewhere, images of existing churches of Cyprus super-imposed on the moon provides a comic and ironic twist.  

The potential to trigger critical thinking

According to Mr. Toumazis, the exhibition deals with the concept of crisis in a number of ways.

“Artists have the capacity to condense, anatomise, and represent symbolically complex social and historical processes. They testify their critical perspective of the world in these troubled times, from a political but also a poetic stance,” he says.

For Mr. Toumazis, the positive impact that art and exhibitions such as this can have, should not be underestimated in the context of the financial crisis.

“Even if art and culture cannot lead the world out of the crisis, they definitely have the potential to trigger critical thinking, to subversively sensitise the viewer, to energise and generate an active reaction to local and global sociopolitical and economic mishaps,” he concludes.

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