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Yiannis Toumazis

Half portrait of a middle-aged man in a black suit. He has short black and gray hair, a gray beard, brown eyes, and smiles at the camera. In the background you can see a blurred plant.
Photo: Yiannis Toumazis

Since its opening in 1994, NiMAC [The Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation] has collaborated with the Goethe-Institut, Zypern in numerous creative projects and ventures. Thanks to these, I had the great pleasure to collaborate with many remarkable artists and curators focusing on the current developments in modern and contemporary art both in Cyprus and in the international art scene, as well as on sociopolitical and cultural issues that have been tormenting our planet in recent years, including issues of borders, migration, racism and xenophobia and the ways in which contemporary art can critically bring them to the fore and stimulate the spectator towards a more pivotal role in active citizenship.

Some of my most memorable collaborations include the exhibitions Preparation Stage, Recorded Memories – Europe. Southeast and Getting Across.

In 2011, the well-known German artist photographer Ricarda Roggan presented an amazing art installation inspired by her work in Cyprus in the framework of Project Room #4. Her work recomposed the environment of a photo lab as the place of birth, preparation and creation of the artwork.

Two years later, in 2014, the two institutions organised and presented the exhibition Recorded Memories – Europe. Southeast. The exhibition featured works by twenty-three artists from eleven countries in Southeastern Europe, who addressed various aspects of collective memory, places of memory, different cultures of memory, as well as the role of image in these processes.

Recorded Memories brought together artistic works that presented very different historical narratives and, beyond that, different uses the camera can be put to: as a device for producing matter-of-fact recordings or biographical accounts, for subjective documentation or historical analysis or as a means of capturing the imperceptible traces of an action. The exhibition was mounted in several countries and gave me the great opportunity to establish collaborations with colleague curators from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Moldavia, North Macedonia, Rumania, Serbia and Turkey.

Last year, during the pandemic, NiMAC and the Goethe-Institut addressed the crucial issues of migration, crossings and borders, and showcased works by important artists across international borders, from a cross section of cultures and different historical situations, through the exhibition Getting Across. The project was curated on the premise that borders are man-made delineations, based on nothing but arbitrary decisions that, nevertheless, exert a tremendous, even gruesome, impact on individuals. The world seems to be increasingly globalized economically but, at the same time, partitioned ethnically, religiously and politically. On top of that, the never-ending coronavirus pandemic that has been plaguing the entire world created even bigger problems to the free and unobstructed movement of people.

I would like to warmly congratulate the Goethe-Institut on its 60-year existence in Cyprus. Its presence and its cultural activities all these years, which created long creative and fruitful synergies between Germany and Cyprus, have been pivotal in the development of the Cypriot artistic milieu in peaceful but also in difficult times. I hope that we will continue to have all these fine collaborations in the future and hopefully in a reunited island.

Happy Anniversary!
Dr. Yiannis Toumazis