Encounters in Cyprus
Having a Cypriot coffee with... performance artist, Horst Weierstall
The exhibition "Crossing Line Circle (Marking Time) Markierungen der Zeit" shows notations and drawings by Horst Weierstall who was the pioneer of performance art in Cyprus during the 1980s. The Goethe-Institut met him for a coffee at the Hotel Averof in Nicosia to find out what it is that connects him to the island.
Let's start with the most important question: how do you drink your coffee?
Horst Weierstall: Metrios. The Kafeneion was always a place of inspiration for my work. I often drank my coffee and took notes as I sat amongst men who played Tavli. Every day a line, every day a drawing.
You came to Cyprus in 1981. How has the country influenced your artistic work?
The situation in Cyprus was extreme at that time and Germany was still divided. Nicosia was the point of view in my search for the periphery, for my research of inner feelings, and a paradigm for the complexity that we feel in the Middle East. At that time I approached the place and the situation by drawing, including large-format floor drawings. This has resulted in a cycle of actions called Momentum.
How was the artistic landscape in Cyprus back then?
The old town of Nicosia is and has always been a breeding ground for artists. The terms “installation“ and “interaction“ were already known because there was always a strong contact with England but I was the first in Cyprus to perform installations and actions in public spaces.
And the reaction of the audience?
There were many who did not understand my 1989 performance at the Green Line, but I sensed that they felt something. Not rejection, but empathy. That was my intention. I wanted to achieve exactly that with the visitors to Momentum. A work of art is not only a thing BEING somewhere, but something to feel WITH each other.
What do you like about the Cypriots?
I like their flexibility when it comes to solving problems quickly. Sometimes they even unhinge bureaucracy to get there. The beautiful thing about Cyprus is that the country, despite her complexity and difficulties, is always an inspiring platform for creative work. What I did here I could not have done anywhere else.
And yet for half of your time you live in Germany.
I founded TheArtSpace , a place for interdisciplinary art, in Düsseldorf in 2010 with my daughter, Alexandra and I am a babysitter for my grandson whenever I am needed.
Is the current exhibition a comeback to Cyprus?
Maybe, I would be delighted if it were to be. My next installation will be for Eco Art, an Akamas project set within the framework of Pafos 2017 in April. The filmmakers, Nikolas Iordanous and Sylvia Nicolaides, have produced a documentary about my work and myself. The first part of the production is being shown right now at an exhibition at the Goethe-Institute. There will be an exhibition in November in Larnaca that will show every facet of my work – pictures, diaries, videos. In the future I would like to dedicate myself to the city of Larnaca – and with that I am once again back onto my favourite topic: researching the periphery.
Every Center a Periphery, 1987. Charcoal and enamel on canvas. 182x182 cm | © Horst Weierstall