Exploring Liminality in Cyprus: Spaces, Voices, and means of Expression
author(s): Susan Brind, Jim Harold, Ana Souto Galvan
published in: RUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research
Key words: Place Identity, Conflict Zones, Border Territories, Liminality, Peripheral Spaces and Voices, Access to Spaces, Right to Speak and Dissemination.
This exposition explores concepts of liminality, access, and means of expression using the divided island of Cyprus as a main case study for analysis and reflection. The exposition is structured in sections or liminal means of expression, which are punctuated, interrupted and / or interrogated by "normative" voices such as "historical facts", definitions, museum displays, etc. published by voices of authority or agency:
Poetic dialogues: These are descriptive letters, Coffee Letters, co-authored by Susan Brind & Jim Harold, written while travelling and in a state of liminality. The letters have no direct addressee nor any formal signing-off. They are intended as fragments of letters, and moments of time passing from an unidentified “I” to and un-named “you”.
Photographic essay on the Buffer Zone, Caesura, part of an ongoing series of images by Jim Harold that document the landscape along and within the demarcation lines of the UN-brokered Buffer Zone (established 45 years ago). These photographs are intentionally understated images that touch upon the zone’s state of disruption and dislocation (physical, social political, and cultural) and that of a returning, if misshapen, appearance of idyll within the uninhabited landscape.
Exploring the role of the 'self' and the 'other': Part 1, by Ana Souto, questions the role of the 'other' and the 'self', the outsider educator negotiating postcolonial tensions around agency and access with local students, open to interpretative quotes from established authors, reflections through texts and images.
Exploring the role of the 'self' and the 'other': Part 2, by Susan Brind and Jim Harold, reflects on the use of Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues as methods to enable meaningful exchanges with people with local knowledge. This is exemplified by the CCFT Nicosia Colloquium, 2016; Timeless Encounters: 'Place of Barley', Agios Sozomenos, 2018; and the Buffer Fringe 2019, Nicosia, in addition to conversations in the space of the City.
Three other sections reflect a multiplicity of observations, facts and voices that, collaged together, reflect the complexity of place, and the processes and methods used to explore these ideas.The main methodology of this submission is practice-led and phenomenological in nature, moving from visual, textual, and reflexive ethnography to autoethnographic scenarios, explored and analysed through dialogue and exchange. This collaboration between the authors sits under the umbrella of the Creative Centre for Fluid Territories (CCFT), an international research centre which interrogates how interdisciplinary artistic research practices contribute to and share critical insights about place making, belonging and occupation. The core participants in CCFT are a group of artistic researchers, architects, designers and cultural theorists from England, Scotland, Norway and Cyprus whose practices, individual and collectively, seek to consider the role of artistic research in shaping narratives of place. Attention has been given to the diversity of each creative and academic practice to allow for the expression of difference as a dynamic aspect of interaction. CCFT’s working methods build on an established mutual respect; track record and insight, rooted in a continued collaborative relationship that has emerged through trust and dialogue. The collaboration focuses on practice-based research methods, exploiting the creative intersection between image and text, presented as performance, publication, installation, architectural and design interventions, and spatial practices.
CCFT’s key methods are the use of Travelling Colloquia and Nomadic Dialogues as strategies to explore the meaning(s) of ‘place’ from different locations, perspectives, and across time. This exposition, focusing on Cyprus as a case study, offers a multidisciplinary collage of contrasting voices which does not aim to resolve the question of liminality, but add liminal voices and spaces to the debate.
Note: The descriptive text about CCFT, its membership, focus and approach is extracted from the group's aims and objectives and is part of an introductory text in a forthcoming publication Fluid Territories, University of Bergen, 2020.