Monday, January 22, 2007

Cyprus fieldwork: Dead Zone borders

This entry recorded some accessible art (I was unable to take the photograph at the time and they later blocked access, although it may have been restored), then described the Phaneromeni Church district of the old town that I was drawn to.

At 4pm on the 19th of February 2006:

I recorded the slogan, '"τα συνορα μας δεν ειναι εδω", "ta synora mas den einai edo", "our borders are not here", with a map of Cyprus in white with a blue border, in the Dead Zone, by a checkpoint [a guard post]'.

At 4.50pm, I jotted down the text of a satirical sticker in the old town:
καμερες στα κτιρια
και στους εργασιακους χωρους
και τωρα και στους δρομους
στοχος μας ο απολυτος ελεγχος σας

το κρατος σας

kameres sta ktiria
kai stous ergasiakous horous
kai tora kai stous dromous
stohos mas o apolytos eleghos sas

to kratos sas

cameras on buildings
cameras in workplaces
and now cameras in streets [too]
our objective is your absolute surveillance

your state
(I think the rest of the translation holds; I guess the conclusion could also have read "our objective is your absolute observation", "... supervision", "... examination" or "... inspection".)

At 8.25pm:

I pondered that,
I seem to gravitate towards the Lidras Street-Green Line intersection (and I did so before I realised that Lidras Street was Ledra Street) and Phaneromeni Church district of the old town. It still feels strange at the intersection; I keep going there, but the oppressive atmosphere remains. At the same time, I have an urge to wave to the people looking back from the northern bridge/platform; I was determined to today, but none were there this time.

Phaneromeni Church, while architecturally unremarkable, is still striking, though apart from for religious ceremonies, it seems to be frequented solely by anarchists, crusties, goths and skaters - and me; even the bohemian types who pass their time at the cafes don't seem to hang around there, though they might once the weather turns and sitting outside (without gas heaters) is a more appealing option; for the moment, at least, I guess it's just for those who smoke and drink and screw because they've nothing else to do.
(That characterisation of those people isn't a direct comment or observation; it's just a reference to the song "Common People" by Pulp, which has the line, 'you'll never fail like common people, you'll never watch your life slide out of view and then dance and drink and screw, because there's nothing else to do'.)
It's also the area in which the "Checkpoint Charly [sic]" snack stall resides. As beautiful as that comment upon Cyprus is, it hides... one of the worst archaeological artefacts I've seen yet. Immediately behind the Checkpoint Charlie stall is part of the Green Line that lacks a wall and consists of just a guard-in-a-box (a one-man booth raised about three feet [one metre] off the ground).

Visible to all who approach it is a graffito that I suspect is or was more or less official [by which I meant, written by National Guard soldiers] and reads [as noted above], 'ta synora mas den einai edo [our borders are not here]', crowned by a map of Cyprus in white with a blue border.

I've started reading Yiannis Papadakis's (2005) Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide, (postscript first).... I also managed to introduce myself to some people in a cafe today....
For some reason thinking that that introduction might come to something, I considered that,
I could survey an important constituency from both communities to see what they wanted me to do - what they considered the most important or pressing aspects of my project and what they would like me to do, opening up the possibility of implementing a true community archaeology, rather than one where I had to infer what the communities wanted from an archaeologist, which I had feared might become necessary if I hadn't started getting more productive discussions going soon; I just don't know how to elicit those kinds of conversations.

Hopefully, they will emerge gradually as my existing (and future) contacts get to know me and as my project becomes better-defined by and in the eyes of the communities it is in, with and for; maybe, they will only emerge once I have found a suitable field location, whether that ends up being Paphos, Larnaca, a Commandaria village or Lefkosha after all.
Papadakis, Y. 2005: Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide. London: I. B. Tauris and Co. Ltd.

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