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An international arts project for the Green Line and the city of Nicosia, Cyprus

13.05. — 29.05.05

Curated by Katerina Gregos and Erden Kosova

Project partners: Kolektif Productions, Istanbul Foundation for Arts and Culture, Artists-and-Artists

Leaps of Faith was an international exhibition and multi-disciplinary arts project that was held in Cyprus in May 2005 and marked the first time in 30 years that a part of the UN controlled Green Line (buffer zone) dividing the island was opened up for use in an international event.

This project aimed to animate and activate public spaces, buildings and sites in the divided city of Nicosia and the war-ravaged Green Line, partitioning the capital of Cyprus, through an international public arts event. The purpose of the project was to reinforce communication and exchange but also to encourage an alternative discourse which diverges from the political perspective that has been largely limited to the internal issues surrounding the perennial Cyprus Problem. This means exploring the parameters of the islands unique geographic position being poised, as it is, between three continents, and situated within a region marked by ongoing political conflicts. At the same time, it aimed to shift its attention to a host of existing socio-cultural issues and problems that have been marginalised as a result of the realpolitik such as gender and class issues, minority rights, the ill effects of tourism, de-regulated urban expansion, skewed notions of development and economic and sexual exploitation of immigrants. Rather than focusing solely on issues of opposition, division and closure the exhibition and its parallel events hoped to focus on the possibilities for such openings political and cultural co-habitation, communication, and social change, as a way of imagining a peaceful and hopeful future for the island.

For more than 30 years, the UN controlled buffer zone, with its shelled out homes and shops left in ruins since the armed conflict in 1974, has run through the heart of Nicosia, a visually dramatic and alarming reminder of the hostilities that split the island and prevented Cypriots from interacting with each other until April 2003. The exhibition was held in the charged site of the so-called Green Line in the abandoned buildings and on the street – and will spill into public spaces, buildings and venues on both sides of the divided city, thus calling into question the function of public space as well as of boundaries, visible and invisible, of the past and of the future.

Leaps of Faith included a main exhibition organized by its curatorial team, which featured 22 international and Cypriot artists whose work has conveyed an understanding of the notion of a contested territory, is engaged with a strong sense of social responsibility, operates site-specifically, and is in a position to be able to highlight the particular physiognomy of the city of Nicosia. The exhibition was comprised of new, site specific works, which were based on local research and communication.

A series of film screenings, lectures, artists workshops/talks and a conference was planned to coincide with the exhibition. The artists workshops and talks were organized by Noise of Coincidence, a Cypriot collaborative artists group. The film screenings took place at the Weaving Mill in South Nicosia, the Goethe Institut in the UN buffer zone and Arabahmet Cultural Centre in North Nicosia.

A tri-lingual (English-GreekTurkish) catalogue, designed by Cha Cha Cha Design, was produced for the exhibition. It includes texts by the exhibition curators as well as by Rana Zincir (project initiator, political scientist/economist), John Nassari (artist and academic), Neshe Yasin (poet), and Maria Hadjipavlou (political scientist, lecturer at the University of Cyprus)

Participating artists in exhibition: Artlab (Great Britain), Katerina Attalides (Cyprus), Marc Bijl (Netherlands), Call#192 (Cyprus), Hussein Chalayan (Cyprus), Phil Collins (Great Britain), Minerva Cuevas (Mexico), Kendell Geers (South Africa), Sejla Kameric (Bosnia), Serap Kanay (Cyprus), Sigalit Landau (Israel), Panayotis Michael (Cyprus), Dan Perjovschi (Romania), Susan Philipsz (Great Britain), Platforma 9,81 (Croatia), Minna Rainio & Mark Roberts (Finland), Akram Zaatari (Lebanon)

Participating artists in film/video screenings and presentations: Artists Without Walls (Israel/Palestine), Lonnie Van Brummelen (The Netherlands), Marine Hugonnier (France), David Massey (Israel), Angela Melitopoulos (Germany), Katarina Rejger & Eric Van Den Broek (Netherlands) Hito Steyerl (Germany), Zelimir Zilnik (Serbia)

Artists/groups participating with parallel projects:
DEEP, EMAA Group, Maria Anaxagora, Emin Çizenel, Inci Kansu, Ismet Tatar, Katerina, Neophytidou, Mehmet Yashin, Neshe Yashin, Nilgün Güney, Pembe Gaziler, Phanos Kyriacou, Rüya Resat, Sophia Kakoulli & Chara Savvidou & Constantinos Evangelides, Vicky Pericleous, Dr.Yiannis Papadakis, Zehra Sonya & Nicholas Panayi, Hourig Torossian, Horst Weierstall, The 242 Art Group, Mustafa Hulusi, 2/2n (Skevi Afantites, Hein van Dam, Jessica Goes, Meric Kara, Christos Kyriakides Alexis Marinis, Matalou@home, Jorge Moitas, Daniella Pais, Yiorgos Tsaggari, Zenios Tselepis U4EA, Ayca Tuyluoglu, Kyriaki Costa Hadjipierri, Carolien Vlieger), Serhat Selisik, Anil Ozgurun, Anber Onar

Sponsors: Leaps of Faith was supported by the Open Society Institute, the European Cultural Foundation, the Chrest Foundation, the United Nations Bi-communal Development Programme, which is funded by UNDP and USAID, and executed by UNOPS.

Additional support was received by the Mondriaan Foundation, FRAME (The Finnish Fund for Art Exchange), the British Council, Technical Chamber of Cyprus (ETEK), The Royal Netherlands Embassy, Cyprus Mail, Yeni Düzen and Politis newspapers, Vakiflar Bank, Goethe-Zentrum Nicosia and the Pharos Trust.

The Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus is giving support to parallel events organized by Greek Cypriot artists groups.

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