So far away from each other, so different and still so closely connected: Berlin and Nicosia. The Berlin dividing line was drawn in 1961 to be overcome unexpectedly 28 years later, whereas pulsating life in Nicosia was disrupted in 1963, its dividing line becoming insurmountable in 1974. It partly opened 29 years later with hope emerging, a miracle might happen. However, the two halves of the last divided capital in Europe are still waiting to be united.
It is to the core of this fascinating city abounding in cultural wealth and caught in the strangling grip of history that the German Cultural Centre dedicates the photo exhibition NICOSIA – FLOWERS TO THE STAR thanking the cultural institutions on this island for fifty years of very friendly and fruitful cooperation. This exhibition represents a considerably enlarged and adapted version of “Nikosia the wall”, a photo exhibition conceived by Georgea Solomontos, Cultural Attache at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Berlin and presented in Berlin, Munich, Münster and Vienna. The opening of FLOWERS TO THE STAR will take place on Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 20.00 hrs, at 39 Boumboulinas Str. & Makarios III Ave, 3rd floor. H.E., Mrs. Erato Kozakou – Marcoulli, Minister of Transport, Communication and Works will give a welcome address on behalf of the President of the Republic. The Mayor of Nicosia, Eleni Mavrou, will open the exhibition. A reception will follow the opening.
The photo reporter Marcos Gittis from Germany, art photographer Arunas Baltenas from Lithuania and artist Katerina Attalidou from Cyprus portray the multifaceted, mysterious face of Nicosia within the walls on both sides of the demarcation line, each in their own distinct style.
Marcos Gittis was born and grew up in Berlin, his school bordering on the Wall. During a working visit to Cyprus in 2000, he was strongly reminded of the past when standing in front of the street barricades at the end of Ledra Street. Since that key moment he started his own search for the reasons of partition in Cyprus, the demarcation line being a recurring element in his photographic work. Marcos Gittis captures above all everyday life, overshadowed by the reality of the dividing line. However, he does not describe a given situation, but an ongoing process, uncovering political processes and social changes. Abandonment and absurdity represent central themes in his work.
Marcos started his professional life as a film laboratory technician. He lived in Cuba from 1985 – 1990, where he started to work as a photographer, his teacher being Juan Jose Vidal Hernandez. He travelled as a photo reporter through Germany, England, France, Sweden, Spain, the USA, Greece and Georgia. During the past seven years he totally devoted his time to Cyprus. He is the co-founder of Cyprus International Press Service (Nicosia/Berlin).
For Arunas Baltenas the relationship between the history and culture of a city and its inhabitants is decisive. In this sense, he finds Nicosia unique with a history where almost all European cultures left traces. “Nicosia seems to me a symbol of the helplessness of culture exposed to the politics of peoples”, he comments. He calls his style of black and white photography with architectural motives “social photography”, as man, though invisible in his work, is lurking at the origin of devastation.
Arunas Baltenas was born in 1956 in Lithuania and is a member of the Lithuanian Art Photographers’ Association. From 1984 – 94 he took part in the programme for the preservation of the Lithuanian cultural heritage. He has cooperated in many photographic publication projects such as “Lithuanian Folk Art”, “Moments of Lithuanian History”, “The Art of Lithuanian Churches” and ‘Old Lithuanian Sculptures”. The Lithuanian National Museum and the French National Library in Paris have bought his collections of black and white photographies of the old town of Vilnius.
Katerina Attalidou is a Cypriot painter. She was born in Nicosia and grew up without the opportunity of ever experiencing her home city as a whole. When the dividing line opened in 2003, she did her own research about this mysterious place with pencils, inks, water colours and a camera. In 2005, she started new discovery trips, this time with a tape recorder interviewing inhabitants on both sides of the demarcation line. In the evening, she tried to conjure up the feelings her wanderings had left in her, the pain of human beings on both sides of the divide, their longing for change. With different techniques such as monotype, prints on transparencies and collage she created a psychogramme of human life facing the dividing line.
Katerina studied history at the Sorbonne in Paris and painting at the Aristotelis University in Thessaloniki. She represented Cyprus in 2003 during the Sarajevo Festival as well as the Triennale in New Delhi in 2005. She presented her art also in Finland (Women Cypriot Artists), in Turkey(Artists & Artists in Constantinople), in Austria(Looking over the Wall), in France(Paris/Chypre) and above all in Cyprus(Art Aware, Leaps of Faith, Spacewalk, Rolling Frame). In her works she applies elements of drawing, photography and collage/assemblage as well as sound.
With their work Marcos Gittis, Arunas Baltenas and Katerina Attalidou succeed in lancing an appeal: This city is in need of unity.
Opening ceremony: Wednesday, 8th November 2010, 20.00 hrs. A reception will follow.
10.00 – 13.00 & 17.00 – 19.00
Marfin Laiki Bank Cultural Centre
39 Makariou ΙΙΙ Avenue
Nicosia, Nicosia 1065, Cyprus