Placing the Past
Communications Department, University of Nicosia, Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus
Monday 21 November 2016 1.30pm to 3.00pm
Joint presentation with Stuart Moore
Introduction to the collaborative film project, provisionally entitled Father-land: (re)visiting the places of the past, for the 2016 Plymouth-Nicosia Artist in Residence Award, as guests of the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC). This practice-based research explores memory and loss through the fractured family life experienced as the children of fathers who were stationed with the Royal Air Force in Cyprus between 1963 and the early 1970s. Drawing on memories of a militarized nomadic childhood and located the context of an island whose human histories extend to the Neolithic, outputs from the residency will include digital audiovisual artwork/s and an essay film.

Our collaborative research method has been described as a ‘close reading’ of our subject matter and “an immediate interaction with it” (Doove, 2014). We use an organic, intuitive, and ethical approach - embedded in place, experiencing from the ground up, rather than a ‘top down’ appropriating gaze.

In our initial research, we are reflecting on our idea of home, in relation to the German word Heimlich, we identify similarities and differences between where we live in Plymouth, a coastal city on the southwestern edge of Europe, and where we are living while we are here in the old walled town of Nicosia. Plymouth and Nicosia are both currently undergoing ‘regeneration’, with old buildings being knocked down and new highrise blocks being put up. In Plymouth, we live just outside the old city walls, very close to the new mosque - but there is no call to prayer. Here in Nicosia, we live a hundred yards from the UN Buffer Zone, and the calls to prayer broadcast from the great mosque Selimiye Camii in the Turkish north of the city order our daily rhythms. Plymouth is two hours behind Nicosia, although both Britain and the Cyprus Republic put the clocks back at the end of October, which has created an otherworldly experience when daylight begins to fall around 3.30pm to 4.00pm, reinforced by the dry warm conditions in Nicosia - in contrast to the severe storms and heavy rainfall of the current British weather.

We are also considering the notion of occupation, related to the conceptualisation of the UN Buffer Zone, the Green Line, a demilitarized no-man’s land occupied by United Nations troops, as a ‘dead zone’ - from the Greek term nekri zoni - essentialised as a space of absence, mystery, and ‘otherness’. We can think of this zone as a void, a nullity inhabited by lizards and pigeons, a wilderness caught in the rift of discordant histories; territories of memory activated by the shift patterns of UN patrols moving east and west and the flow of border crossings between north and south. A lacuna: an unfilled section, a blank, a cavity, a hollow, a missing section of text, an extended silence in a piece of music, a lexical gap in a language.

However, we regard the zone as a place of possibility, of potential, of interaction, linked to the Ancient Greek word χλόη, 'the green of new growth'. This tear, or rupture, releases energy. Seen on Google Earth, the Green Line is a visible greenness growing across the country, because of the trees and vegetation that have grown during the past decades of separation. With reference to the recent paper, ‘The Cyprus Buffer Zone as a Socio-Ecological Landscape’, by Costas M. Constantinou and Evi Eftychiou (2014), the buffer zone, a space between languages and culture, 'speaks' through its absence. This liminal zone excludes, yet "preserves a space of difference informed by an experience of marginalization and nonbelonging" (Weltman-Aron, 2015).

Is it possible, or even desirable, to return to a point of origin in our past? In (re)visiting the sites of memory, we (re)experience the dislocation of exile, feeling uprooted from home, family, ourselves. Luggage that has gone astray in transit, lost baggage that cannot be returned. The residency has provided us with an opportunity to think about ideas of marginalisation, exclusion and expropriation; to reflect on (re)turning - turning back time, rewinding the clock, traveling back to the scene of idyllic oneness, a rounded wholeness of self.

And also informs our ethical approach. We embark on our journey, knowing that we will never reach our destination. Hélène Cixous writes about departing "so as not to arrive", positioning scenes of expulsion as "the very form ... of our relationship to the world". She uses the term arrivante de toujours for: "a position of non appropriation of and nonbelonging in a place. That figure retains the ethical dimension of uprootedness, claims only to visit or pass through the land or home of others, and puts into question the stance of the privileged outsider" (Weltman-Aron, 2015).

Films screened
Sea Front
2010 Super 8mm film 5 minutes 40 seconds
The poetry of Plymouth Sound and city seaside culture captured in glorious Kodachrome Super 8: meet the young tombstoners who gather on the cliffs under Plymouth Hoe at high tide to launch themselves into the waves below. Winner of the Media Innovation Award 2010: Independent Film, and winner of the 2010 London Short Film Festival Trick of the Light Award. Supported by a Major Research Award from the University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth.

Teign Spirit
2009 Black and white 8mm film, HD video and digital photographs 2 minutes 50 seconds
An animated ‘séance’, in which modern day Teignmouth, a seaside resort on the coast of south Devon, is haunted by joyous summers past, conjured up though archive footage. Commissioned by Animate Projects for Sea Change.

Cinematic City
2011 HD video with sound from 1980s television programmes 7 minutes
A contemporary look at Plymouth's post-second world war architecture, contextualised by archive audio from long forgotten local television documentaries - using what was said 'then' to contrast what our camera can see 'now'. Commissioned by Plymouth Arts Centre, a Cinema City Artist’s Moving Image award funded by South West Screen and Arts Council England.

Heaven is a Place
2014 HD video 2 minutes 9 seconds extract (Lion’s Den duet)
Made in partnership with Pride in Plymouth, the video reflects the growing confidence of our LGBT community, which has become more visible in recent years, and now presents an annual Pride event to celebrate queer identity and culture in a city on the far southwest coast of Britain. Funded by:The Culture Programme of the European Union, and The Humanities, Music and Performing Arts Research Centre (HuMPA) at Plymouth University; with additional grant funding from The ICCI Support Fund, Innovation for the Creative and Cultural Industries with Plymouth University.

31 Days
2016 Super 8mm film 4 minutes 30 seconds
A film by Stuart Moore: a triptych of film moments re-creates memories from a collection of thirty one clips, one selected each day during March 2016 from the artist's personal Super 8 archive.

Father-land: (re)visiting the past (working title)
2016-17 HD video 1 minute rooftop extracts from work-in-progress
2016 Plymouth-Nicosia Artist in Residence Award, based at Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC), Nicosia, Republic of Cyprus.

Cixous, H. (1969/1986) Inside trans. Carole Barko, originally published in the French by Grasset, Paris, as Dedans, 1969. New York: Schocken.
Cixous, H. (1989) ‘From the Scene of the Unconscious to the Scene of History: Pathway of Writing’ trans. Deborah Carpenter in Ralph Cohen (ed.) The Future of Literary Theory. New York and London: Routledge.
Constantinou, C.M. and Eftychiou, E. (2014) 'The Cyprus Buffer Zone as a Socio-Ecological Landscape' The Satoyama Initiative (2 May 2014). Available:
Doove, E. (2014) ‘Hidden Sounds and Histories of the River’ Bureau Doove (14 September 2014). Available:
Republic of Cyprus (2016) [website] ‘Ministry of Finance Customs and Excise Department: Green Line - Crossing points regulations’. Available:
Sellers, S. (1988/1996) Hélène Cixous: Authorship, Autobiography and Love. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Sellers, S. (ed.) The Hélène Cixous Reader with a preface by Hélène Cixous and foreword by Jacques Derrida. New York and London: Routledge.
Cyprus: Stranded in Time (1989) [TV documentary] Directed by Christopher Hitchens, part of the BBC Frontiers series. 49 minutes.
Weltman-Aron, B. (2015) ‘Introduction’ in Brigitte Weltman-Aron Algerian Imprints: Ethical Space in the Work of Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous. New York and Chichester: Columbia University Press. no page numbers.
Wilson, E.(1996) Sexuality and the Reading Encounter: Identity and Desire in Proust, Duras, Tournier, and Cixous. Oxford: Clarendon Press.