Curatorial note

What I eat, what I wear, what sports I practice, which location I tag, or which vintage objects I re-evaluate: creatively and precisely composed consumer behaviours perform and illustrate how I found the way to myself. The exhibition “Found and Lost” with works by Phung-Tien Phan and Marina Xenofontos deals with this phenomenon. Existing and newly produced sculptures, installations, and video works by the German and Cypriot artists engage in an exchange within Goethe-Institut’s historically charged location in the Nicosia Buffer Zone.

The searching camera gaze is at the center of the video work Girl at heart (2020) by Phung-Tien Phan. As the gaze explores the dazzling shine effects on trivial material surfaces, such as window frames or playground swings, it is rummaging through the everyday to find something unique. What is found and carefully chosen is supposed to prove ones’ own self-actualized approach to the world. Yet, the self-presentations conveyed in the object compositions in Phan's Dizzzy (2021) and Dino at risk (2021) have cracks. The plush toy, the dish drainer, and the soda machine form harmonious arrangements that assert an accomplished balancing act between successfully portrayed self-discovery and the domestic work of care. However, the pointed scraper and the saw blade indicate potentially violent outbursts: perhaps things didn't go smoothly after all? Doubts are integrated into the seemingly perfect picture – who knows whether loss could be exploited too.

The seemingly valuable windowsills and gates made of oxidised aluminium, which Marina Xenofontos employs in Class Memorial Children's Bed (2021), are carefully selected finds. Since the 1970s, these architectural elements signalled wealth in Cypriot homes. Xenofontos transforms them into an empty children's bed. Her artistic appropriation and transformation are testaments of an ability to spin a narrative out of the everyday about the unfulfilled dreams of the previous generation. One's own self-realisation must take place on shattered expectations. The colourful light show in Xenofontos’ Dragmonster 1974 (2022) flashes to the rhythm of absent party music, confronting a euphoric self-perception with a sobering reality. Failure and disappointment lend themselves to an unexpected opportunity for re-enchanting the world in darker tones.

The artworks by Phan and Xenofontos are suspended somewhere between self-irony and desperation. Together, they depict a mixed sense of existence in a world that resembles a lost property office inverted in its mode of operation – a “Found and Lost”. Here, everyday objects are subject to a compulsion to be exploited as unique and found treasures, but ones that are torn from their context and thus interchangeable, setting off a sense of being lost.