rcsaerh , 2019
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
The Landscape is the Arena of Our Collective Actions*
For many years, through his photographic work, artist Stelios Kallinikou has investigated themulti-layered landscape of Cyprus, in search of life emerging from the ruins of a past thatmeets and mix, shaping the present. The landscape is an archive of stories that are narrated bythe lens of the artist’s camera. Like the story of a rare endemic species of wild tulip known asCyprus tulip which the artist has documented in a series of painterly portraits of wild-life inthe borderland. In How to look at a flower barefoot (2019), the artist focuses on a differenttype of interstitial space, the one opened by the physical encounter with a painting in amuseum and its digital re-encounter as fragment or an abstract color field, due to what isknown as ‘lazy loading’, a technique used in computer programming to delay the loading ofso called “non-critical” sources. Kallinikou questions the selective mechanisms of big-corporate like google which mine datas and establish what is considered “critical,” thus worthhighlighting, and what remains in darkness. In this series, Kallinikou approaches digitalimages as he does the Cypriot landscapes, opening for the viewer a space of materialresistance, but also of introspection and projection; making new time for listening amid the white noise produced by the fast-paced circulation of visual inputs and digital information.
*The title is borrowed from a sentence in a published conversation with Stelios Kallinikou and George Salameh.
The video work “Flamingo Theatre” is a collage of research material from and about the Akrotiri Area. The British Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri is a space suspended between different and complex narratives. In its landscape, British military facilities intersect a wetland with incredible biodiversity, vitally important for the wider eastern Mediterranean region. On the one hand, thousands of migratory birds use the area as a temporary home; on the other hand, the British military base serves to monitor the flow of political developments in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The work is inspired by videos found online, showing adolescents participating in a summer school at the military base, creating and uploading the videos for fun. Kallinikou put forward an abstract, poetic film carried by a specially composed sound work by Panagiotis Mina, which is an attempt to encapsulate the complicated nuances and contradictions of the area.
...These nuances often become a vehicle through which the process of photography acts upon territory-ideology and history. While he was working on a series of photographs of a rare endemic wildflower – the Cyprus tulip - in the village of Mammari, UN soldiers appeared and asked him to leave, as he was in a part of the village that falls within the ‘dead zone’, a de-militarized zone lying between the south and north (Cyprus has been divided since 1974). He showed them the photographs in order to prove that he wasn’t doing anything illegal, and in the hope that they would let him continue, but it proved impossible. They responded that they were aware that he was photographing the flowers, but nonetheless he was not allowed to be there.