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So I can reflect
Pafos has been experiencing a turbulent time for the last few decades. A world in a constant flux that has seen radical environmental demographic and financial changes is poised to face even greater challenges in the next few years as the global financial crisis starts biting here too. So it is ironic that the aim of this show is to sit back and take stock, to assess what the situation is, when direct action sounds more relevant than meditation. But sometimes, as Slavoj Žižek says coolness and reflection is more productive than action. Referring to Lenin’s withdrawal to a lonely resort in Switzerland after the disaster of 1914 in order to study Hegel’s logic, he stresses the need to “learn, learn, learn” the nature of the issue at hand before any step is taken.

For many years Pafos has been a station, a passing point for people who stopped for a while and then moved on. This fluidity originating from geography, and later intensified by technology, easy travel, communications and dynamic economies, is giving us a motion-blurred picture of a world in turmoil. It is time to slow down, if not totally freeze the frame in order to see what has been achieved and what has been lost, what the desired direction is and where we are really heading. John Durham Peters argues that mobility has been a fundamental feature of European and global civilization. Citing a vast spectrum of terms such as odyssey, diaspora, migration , tourism , exile, drifters, flâneurs, pilgrims, hajjis, pioneers, jet-setters, refugees, explorers, stateless, nomads, troubadours, circus people, he reminds us that far from being a affliction, mobility is part of human nature, and like all human manifestations sometimes it comes with a constructive and sometimes with a destructive thrust. Occasionally waves of people pass through societies like the wind through empty streets leaving nothing but dust behind. At other times a cross fertilization among cultures takes place instigating exciting new ventures. History has shown that the greatest civilizations came from open societies which assimilated alien influences while, on the other hand, problems arise when at the cross-roads one culture dominates over all others and rejects the alternative discourses that flow freely through the fabric of a society.  In order to rectify such a one dimensional view and re-establish a more kaleidoscopic vision a multiplicity of voices must be heard.

This show has two aims: One is to take an analytic yet poetic view of migration, revealing the suffering, the exploitation and the oppression of this world, but also to celebrate the success, the creativity and the emergence of new possibilities. All participating artists have experienced the status of the foreigner at one point or another, but some come from all over the globe and live in Pafos and others are Cypriots who deal with migration. Pafos has had shortcomings in dealing with the issues in some respects. But there are points that this place has been more successful than elsewhere. The fact that artists from all parts of the world found here a space where they can work and create in equal terms with their peers, they are free to develop and articulate their own discourse, they were given, to paraphrase Virginia Wolfe, a room of their own to produce art is an achievement. So the second objective is to present a segment of the diversity of different yet harmonious voices of those who chose to work here. Among the political utterances of this show, the viewer will perceive the sensitive and esoteric echoes of lost worlds in times passed, individual myths and images merging sensitively with present situations.  As different approaches intertwine, as each local becomes a foreigner and vice versa and the subject of the gaze becomes its object, it appears, reflecting for a moment, that we should never abandon our right to talk and our obligation to listen.

Yiannos Economou
Pafos, August 2012

 

The above was published in the catalogue of the exhibition "WITHOUT".


Žižek, S. (2009) Violence – Six Sideways Reflections, Profile Books, London.

Durham Peters J. (1999) Exile, Nomadism and Diaspora, - the Stakes of Mobility in the Western Canon, in Home Exile, Homeland, ed Naficy H., Routledge, London.