We live in times of crisis. The globalised world, especially as it was formed after 9/11, is beset today, more than ever, by economic, political, religious, ethnic and social crises, but also by a deep existential identity crisis.
The 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, once the fourth largest investment bank in the United States, was a clear sign that “something is rotten in the State of Denmark”1and set fire to the lurking financial crisis worldwide. A crisis spreading in a chain reaction – possibly the most complex one since the Second World War and quite different from the 1929 stock market crash – the consequences of which are still felt today, especially within the European territory.
A crisis creates uncertainty and panic, a redeployment of correlations and forces, and it often leads to a redefinition of ideologies. The rulers and those in power see their force weaken, unable to react to the torrent of rapid changes, while the weak – that is, the masses – watching their standard of living plummet below the limits of human dignity, often resort to activism, and sometimes even to violent acts. Between 2009 and now, we have witnessed a series of unprecedented riots taking place in various areas around the world. The rapid spread of the social networking media, which to a large extent have substituted conventional media and the “television wars” of previous decades, have had a significant contribution to shaping these collective reactions.
Half a century after the student riots in the United States and Europe (in the early 1960s), the angry young indignados in Madrid’s Puerta Del Sol claim their lost future, having inspired through their mass mobilisation the indignant Greeks at Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, a country where strict austerity measures are crashing the middle and working classes, bringing salaries and benefits down to the levels of the 1970s.
In Great Britain, Canada, Finland, Denmark and elsewhere, the main objective of police kettling – a tactic for controlling crowds during demonstrations or protests by containing them within a limited area – is the weakening of any kind of reaction.
In August 2011, London and several other cities in England experienced devastating and revelatory demonstrations of anger, hopelessness, despair and revenge, all of which signal the beginning of the establishment of a contemporary “urban jungle”.
According to Paul Mason, “we are in the middle of a revolution caused by the near collapse of free-market capitalism combined with an upswing in technical innovation, a surge in desire for individual freedom and a change in human consciousness about what freedom means.”
A strange foreign body appears to have been stuck on the south side of the Municipal Arts Centre. Quite high up, like another appendage, it seems to protrude vertically from the wall like a huge nest of a mechanical bird. On a closer look we realise that this is an iron trailer with the insignia of the United Nations. It is in fact an old mobile telecommunications station of the UN forces in Cyprus. Passing directly underneath, the viewer sees a sequence of numbers projected on the sidewalk.
Looking up, there is a lit surface, shiny as a mirror, which is the ‘floor’ of the construction, engraved with the sequence of numbers projected on the sidewalk. The artists Nikos Kouroussis and Constantinos Kalisperas have carved on this surface all the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations on Cyprus. In direct dialogue with the Stairs of Innocent of Pravdoliub Ivanov, the work deals with the concepts of security, monitoring, communication and protection. As it is attached to the wall of the Municipal Art Centre’s library, this huge construction, incapable of action, transforms into a contemporary monument of “collapsed endeavours”.
Projected by: Constantinos Kalisperas & Nicos Kouroussis Curator/Text: Yiannis Toumazis