on the Nicosia Airport (2016)

Unpacking Chapter 7. Conflict as capital: Contemporary art and the heritage of conflict
Harlem Shake: The UN and libidinal resistance in Cyprus
PhD Tips: Getting through the Viva

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Citation: Loizidou, C. (2016). “On the Nicosia Airport.” Presented at the “Troubled Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East: Post-colonial conflicts, Pedagogies of art history, and Precarious artistic mobilization” Conference (Birkbeck University of London | University of Nicosia), 3-4 June, 2016.

Above I embed a fairly exhaustive / unfortunately linear, mapping of my research on the Nicosia Airport, based and building on chapter 7 of my PhD thesis.

There’s a another story here that speaks to my interest in the Nicosia Airport more personally. This was something I had to fight for as part of my PhD.
The latter was a Cyprus-based micro-historical thesis in Humanities and Cultural Studies, examined by two mighty International Relations scholars who had opposite concerns about my turn to the Nicosia Airport and contemporary heritage discourse late in the thesis. I have a feeling that this little controversy focused the discussion between the examiners in a way that saved me from having to make too many changes:
On the one hand, examiner #1 Costas M. Constantinou (Professor of International Relations at the Dept. of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cyprus) suggested that chapter 7 didn’t quite fit / would make it difficult for me to publish the thesis later on: that for the sake of methodological coherence it would have made sense to maintain the focus on Archbishop Kyprianos Square. (I had resisted similar advise from my supervisor, Patrick Wright, who ultimately decided to sit back and enjoy watching me take my own risks). On the other hand, examiner #2 Bernadette Buckley – who runs the Art and Politics MA under the International Relations Dept.[!] at Goldsmiths – wondered why I felt I had to go through all that groundwork with Archbishop Kyprianos Square in order to get to the real point / what I had wanted to do all along, which was chapter 7’s close handling of Cypriot contemporary art-politics. Two years later I have a pretty good answer to that question. (During the Viva, as I recall, my response to the examiners’ honest interest in my work and their curiosity about the twist in chapter 7, was little more a series of sniffles.Here’s a hint: the exact method of tracking Cypriot memorial politics of place through time (through creative installations and their treatments, in turn, in piling layers of other media), seemed to naturally lead the inquiry away from Archbishop Kyprianos Square and to the Nicosia Airport as a type of “descendant” [nod to Christos Hadjichristos] of what is usually understood as monumental space: the Nicosia Airport seemed to draw and layer contemporary creative interventions in a powerful way. It came up as a node, as a new, more articulate, locus for the memorial politics of the present.

I may at some point expand my arguments around this material in one or more articles but in the mean time I’d love for it to be useful to others. I include my speaker notes. If you do find the material useful I very much hope you’ll let me know so I can cite the result.

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