The possibility of an island : visions of landscape in contemporary art in Cyprus

Parpa, Elena (2018) The possibility of an island : visions of landscape in contemporary art in Cyprus. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

To cross the landscape of places such as Cyprus is to pick your way across the tangible marks of the island’s traumatic past. Checkpoints and roadblocks, dead-ends and Dead Zones constitute integral features of its topography, speaking of its predicament as a place of ethnic conflict. The Possibility of an Island: Visions of Landscape in Contemporary Art in Cyprus is a research project on the Cypriot landscape and its visual culture; its politics and poetics. It focuses on the way the Cypriot landscape’s complex actuality and symbolic resonance emerges as subject in the work of visual artists making work about Cyprus. In so doing, it centres on and frequently returns to a set of critical questions: How does the landscape’s physical dissection—with checkpoints, a partition line, and a Dead Zone— inform the work of visual artists in the present? How do they choose to represent it and towards what means? In what ways do their artistic considerations shape, alter, or unsettle conceptions and/or experiences of real (and imagined) landscapes and, most crucially, of our sense of identity and belonging? In navigating through these questions, I put forward the hypothesis that the artists’ turn to landscape and its representation relates to their various positionings within and against the debates concerning narratives of history, ethnic origin, and identity in Cyprus. Hence, in their works we are invited to experience evocative visions of landscape as topos (as in landscape as a place of belonging). Yet, the perspectives that artists employ when doing so come to challenge and sometimes transgress stereotypical conceptions of what it means to belong, setting prevalent notions of identity in doubt as well as those oppressive conditions that sustain and encourage discord, antagonism, and division. To support such a contention, the folds within conceptions of landscape and ideas relating to identity and place, history and memory figure prominently in the discussion, as do questions over representation and its reception in critical evaluations. In fact, the way contemporary artistic renderings of landscape as topos converse with or challenge dominant conceptions of belonging and narratives of history forms a central part of the analysis in this thesis. It is a discussion carried out with the intention of interrogating the kind of expectations exercised on artists in contexts of ethnic antagonism. It is for this reason that my interest lies in those artists whose interventionist perspective could serve as a model for the way art can be at once inspiring, thought-provoking, and challenging, even when dealing with a well-worn and, in many respects, traditional subject like landscape. These artists work across a variety of media and include Marianna Christofides, Haris Epaminonda, Mustafa Hulusi, Stelios Kallinikou, Nurtane Karagil, Maria Loizidou, Erhan Öze, Socratis Socratous, and the artist group Neoterismoi Toumazou. In seeking to look into the longer histories of the issues debated, the discussion centres as well on the work of artists Cevdet Çağdaş, Adamantios Diamantis and Ιsmet Vehit Güney. As it is argued throughout this thesis, whatever the generational period they belong to or means through which these artists choose to negotiate their ideas, their work offers different perspectives on the folds within landscape, culture, and identity at the same time that it invites reflection over how we can reconsider the possibility of an island as the topos of who we are.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > History of Art & Screen Media
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2019 16:26
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2019 16:26
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/369

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