22 Apr 2015 to 26 Apr 2015
Organized by The Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies, the 2nd Diversity Arts Festival celebrated the island’s diversity of arts and cultures on the 22-26 of April 2015.
The goals of the festival were to raise awareness about diversity and respect for difference in the community, promoting thus a culture of peace. The festival took place at Famagusta Gate and Famagusta Gate Moat in Nicosia. The festival program consisted of art exhibitions, literary readings, workshops, presentations, and musical performances by artists living on the island. The art exhibitions, literary readings, workshops, and presentations occured throughout the week within Famagusta Gate. The musical segment of the festival occured on Friday, 24 April at the Moat where arts and crafts as well as food and beverage vendors sold their products.
The Festival was co-organized with the University of Nicosia’s the Art, Design and Multimedia Society and the Department of Design and Multimedia, and Keystone Conferences and Events. Festival sponsors included: Empire Group, EKO (Hellenic Petroleum Cyprus LTD), Kronenbourg 1664 beer, Agros Natural Mineral Water, and Landas Colour Ltd. Festival supporters: the University of Nicosia’s Department of Student Affairs. Media sponsors: Phileleftheros and KissFM.
This exhibition was composed of two initiatives presented side by side:
one was an exhibition by artists living in Cyprus but who were not born on the island and the other was based on the work of University of Nicosia students and students from Elenio Primary School responding to the notions of diversity, difference, and otherness.
The Diversity Arts Festival Exhibition for Non-Cypriot Artists hosted artworks—including photography, painting, drawing, video, and print—from artists whose country of origin is NOT Cyprus. The aims of this exhibition were to provide a platform for artists not born in Cyprus but residing on the island who often lack exposure, for this platform to be as representative as possible of the many different cultures and communities living in Cyprus, and to showcase lesser-known or different perspectives on the island.
Featured artists included: Denis Atamanchuk (Belarus), Adi Atassi (Syria), Sousan Itayim (Iran), Alvard Karapetian(Armenia), Julie Reshe (Ukraine), Irina Sigitova (Ukraine), Rosita Sumagaysay (The Philippines), and Gaia Zaccagni (Italy).
The Passage/Rotonda featured an exhibit that is the result of a project with Point Centre for Contemporary Arts andElenio Primary School, a ‘historic’ school with a multi-cultural reality. This EEA funded project is called Promoting Anti-Discrimination Through Arts Education for the Local Community Point-Elenio . The exhibit presented one of the project’s manifestations, which has been developed with a group of students (10 to 12 years old) that attend the Elenio afternoon school. It was assembled through a series of workshops over a period of ten weeks and it incorporates sounds, structures and images, gathered, produced and developed by the students.
The Passage also featured screenings of Victoria Harwood Butler-Sloss’s (Armenia/U.K.) documentary “Cyprus Summer 1974” on the Opening Day of the Art Exhibition.
This part of the exhibition was organised by the Art, Design & Multimedia Society and the Department of Design and Multimedia of the University of Nicosia for the Diversity Arts Festival. The students’ work engaged with notions of difference, otherness and collectiveness through a multiplicity of angles. The exhibition demonstrated a process of exploring how gender is constructed; how the self as ‘other’ is perceived; and how the diversity of cultures intervenes in the urban fabric and in our everyday experiences.
The works presented were individual and group efforts employing a diversity of materials, tools and techniques: graphic composition, painting, drawing, illustration, photography, mixed techniques, performance, video or animation.
The Literary Evening featured readings in English by 13 writers: Zeki Ali, Mateo Jarrín Cuvi, Gür Genç, Maria Gregoriou, Erato Ioannou-Moustaka, Maria A. Ioannou, Lisa Suhair Majaj, Max Sheridan, Nora Nadjarian, Rachael Pettus, Stephanos Stephanides, Paul Stewart, and Marilena Zackheos. The intent was to showcase a diversity of voices and experiences from Cyprus regardless of ethnic or linguistic origin in a language most people understand. This English reading was also an opportunity to share works written or translated in English that are most often not promoted in Cyprus.
WORKSHOPS AND PRESENTATIONS
The Diversity Arts Festival workshops and presentations aimed to showcase diversity in the arts of Cyprus and to advance knowledge about diversity and difference through the arts.
Haji Mike and Dub Thomas delivered a 90-minute “How To” workshop on Radio Streaming.
Hundreds of thousands of people stream radio shows live on line everyday all over the world from a variety of countries, music scenes and cultures. Cyprus is no exception to this with a number of online radio stations re-defining how radio is made, played and heard that give people access and a voice in the community from a diverse range of cultures. The workshop leaders, who both have shows on Versionist Village Radio www.versionist.net explained in a practical sense, how easy it is to stream online with the minimum amount of technology and equipment. 30 minutes of the workshop took the form of a live online radio show.
Stavros Karayanni’s belly dance workshop “To move and be moved: Belly dance aesthetics, politics, movement”
introduced belly dance as orientalist phantasy, healing technique, fitness exercise, and personal narrative. Basic belly dance rhythms and movement were covered including shoulders, hips, and torso isolations.
The workshop was appropriate for beginners and intermediate level students.
Nicos Philippou’s workshop “Photographing Material Culture within Migrant Social Space(s)”
explored important migrant social spaces in Nicosia. During the last few years the otherwise non-established minorities of the country have begun to establish their own social spaces. These are often food catering establishments that serve the particular dietary and entertainment needs of their target communities. Naturally these shops sprung near and around religious spaces like the mosque on Trikoupi Street and the Catholic Church near Pafos Gate. A walk through these areas will reward the urban adventurer with the pleasure of observing the facades and interiors of Filipino food stores, spring-roll shops, karaoke cafes, halal butcher shops, falafel and lahmatzoun kiosks, curry restaurants and the like. These are, off-course, very important meeting points for minority members that want to participate in social, cultural, entertainment and culinary experiences that would satisfy a yearning and nostalgia for the homeland. They are at the same time spaces within which collective identities are re-affirmed and strengthened. This last function of these spaces is usually manifested on their walls in the form of arrangements of objects like photographs with scenery from far away places that immigrants call home, religious iconography, posters of pop-stars from the subcontinent, fabrics and art work with Arabic patterns and so on. The participants of the workshop were introduced to the functions of these spaces, were shown photographs of the Cypriot coffee-house material culture, were given tips of how to negotiate access to communities of interest and were asked to visit such spaces and photograph the material culture on their walls.
Erato Ioannou and Christos R. Tsiailis’s creative writing workshop entitled “Decoding the Other Art and Reassembling,”
was a three-hour long interdisciplinary workshop for fiction writers and poets, delivered in the English language. The workshop aimed to explore the theme of Otherness in society, in literature and in painting. In a country that still suffers the wounds of conflict, Otherness is a theme of great significance. Through guided discussion and constructive dialogue, workshop participants were encouraged to use their art, to explore social, cultural and political issues, to question memories, the past, borders, and inherited narratives and challenge dominant literary discourses which tend to stereotype the Other and ignore diversity. It should be highlighted that the basic concept of the workshop had symbolic connotations. Participants collaborated with the Other Artist, and through the various activities assigned to them, participants sought a deeper understanding of the Other Art, be it poetry, prose, or painting. They were inspired by the Other Art to produce their own works and achieve understanding of the common elements as well as incorporate in their respective mediums the traits of the other. The workshop inspired new writings, and through its activities, it aspired to raise awareness and respect for difference, promote understanding, and the vision of a peaceful, multicultural Cyprus. The workshop culminated with the presentation/performance of the participants’ work.
The Famagusta Gate Moat Stage welcomed the following artists from Cyprus: Haji Mike + Dub Thomas, Mood Indigo,Monsieur Doumani, and Minus One. The bands represented a range of musical styles including Reggae, Dub, Jazz, Cyfolk, and Pop-Rock.
Haji Mike is a Dub Poet & DJ. He was the first who played and made Reggae music from Cyprus as far back as the 1990’s. He lived for many years in England, growing up with Reggae and Dub Poetry as well as sounds from Cyprus and Greece. Creating independent music since that time and being a Reggae DJ based in Cyprus has not been an easy task but it is one that has continued with dedication and a wide variety of releases. His collaborations and musical live travels on a global scale are unique for an artist from Cyprus. Two of the most recent releases featuring his lyrics and voice are the powerful ‘Dead Politiks’ a testament against corruption, done with Red Star Martyrs (on ‘United as One’ released Dub-O-Phonic/DubKey) and Haji Mike meets Bandulu Dub ‘The Lost Dub Poetry Hard Drive Vol 1’ (Dan DaDa Records). Besides making music Haji Mike is an Associate Professor in Communications at The University of Nicosia and his first edited book is being published in the spring called ‘Art & Social Justice – the Media Connection’ (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2015). Last but by no means least, Haji Mike produces two radio shows each week; ‘In Session’ which is live on Versionist (Weds 6-8 GMT) here and ‘Outernational’ played on 5 stations round the world.
More info on the radio shows can be found here.
Dub Thomas (born Savvas Thomas) was born on the island of Cyprus in the middle 60s. He has been attracted to music since he was a youth. Nevertheless, it was during his ten-year stay in Germany in the 80s and 90s that he got familiar with the conscious vibes of reggae music. The live concerts of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Dub Syndicate and Mad Professor inspired his future path. After returning to Cyprus, he founded 2012 the IDM Crew, a family of selectors and producers, touring around the island and spreading the Jah message. He performed in various festivals and events in Cyprus, sharing the stage with artists like Vibronics, Echo Ranks, Direct Impact, Haji Mike, Med Dred, King of Eye, Peter Attah and played on two of the main soundsystems of the island (Roots Crew Soundsystem, Jah Star Soundsystem). It was also during that time that he became founding member of the Cyprus Dub Community Radio, the only online radio in Cyprus dedicated in reggae and Dub. As a radio dj, he had also resident slots on the two main online radio stations in Europe, on Artikal Vibes and on Versionist, on which he plays until today. As a producer, he founded Dubophonic in 2013, the first netlabel from Cyprus, with the purposes of releasing quality dub music from artists dedicated and passionate about their work and promoting the culture of dub and reggae music. From 2013 until today Dubophonic has 21 releases. Most of them are free. With artists not only from Cyprus and Greece, but also from all around the world, from the UK to Latin America, from Russia to Japan, the label is defining its own sound in dub music, exploring the outest borders of dub, combining the roots of reggae, the digital vibes of the new century and the ethnic sounds of world music in one big vibration.
Mood Indigo is the original, vintage jazz band in Cyprus performing the captivating music of 1930s, 40s & 50s with a vibrant, fun and romantic mood. They perform classics sung by masters like Billie Holiday, Annie Ross, Lee Wiley and many others. Led by Jazz Chanteuse Irene Athanasiou, Greg Makamian on double bass, Charis Ioannou on saxophones, Dimitris Miaris on piano, and Marios Spyrou on drums, Mood Indigo takes audiences on a journey into a long-gone era. The band creates a festive and elegant atmosphere, but it is visually striking as well. Performance attire sets the mood with Irene in a 50s fancy dress and the fellas decked out in suits. One-of-a-kind instruments and a vintage microphone complete the look.
Monsieur Doumani formed in 2011 in Nicosia by Antonis Antoniou (tzouras), Angelos Ionas (guitar) and Demetris Yiasemides (wind instruments). Although each member of Monsieur Doumani comes from a different musical background all three are influenced by Cypriot folklore on various levels. They focus on rearranging Cypriot traditional songs, adding their own particular color to the sound and feeling of the songs. They also compose their own songs in the Cypriot dialect, which are inspired by contemporary Cypriot society, as for example the recent financial crisis that hit the island and the corrupted political system. Even though their musical education was mainly oriented towards Western musical paths, none of them have ever ignored the simplicity, the beauty and the unique melodies of their land’s traditional music. It is this uniqueness that Monsieur Doumani has focused upon, enriching traditional songs with new arrangements, melodies, rhythms and sounds and crafting a style distinctively their own. The traditional element is highlighted through the diversity of musical styles echoed in the group’s fresh and daring approach to the Cypriot folklore. Monsieur Doumani have recently released their second full-length album, ‘Sikoses’, an album that consists mainly of their own compositions, inspired by tradition, but reflecting on the Cypriot contemporary society. In May 2013, Monsieur Doumani released their first full-length album entitled ’Grippy Grappa’, which gained them a nomination for “Βest Newcomer” group in Songlines Music Awards 2014. The album Grippy Grappa, which is mainly comprised of reworked traditional Cypriot pieces, has received excellent reviews from international media such as the British newspaper «The Guardian», the French magazine «Les InRocks» and the music magazine «fRoots». Their album was «Top of the World» in the 95th issue of «Songlines» magazine and it reached No.12 in the World Music Network’s August charts while their song “Out-of-touch guy” reached No.4 in the WMN’s November video charts and was also included in Songlines magazine’s ‘Top of the World’ compilation album. In 2012, they produced their first limited-edition EP ‘Cyfolk’, consisting of 8 rearrangements of Cypriot folk songs. The album was distributed only in Italy and it is now out of stock.
Their live appearances in festivals and venues across Europe (WOMAD, Sommarscen Malmo, Telemark Folk Festival, etc) have been very well-received by diverse audiences and their music has been presented on radio stations around the globe, such as BBC, NPR, Radio France, Sveriges Radio, PBS FM Melbourne etc.
In August 2012, Monsieur Doumani represented Cyprus at the acclaimed Ferrara Buskers Festival and was awarded the 3rd place for the most favored group of the festival.
Minus One is a live pop-rock cover band with Francois Micheletto on vocals, George Solonos on guitars and vocals, Constantinos Amerikanos on guitars and vocals, Antonis Loizides on bass, and Chris Ioannides on drums. The band’s strongest points are their performances and choice of songs. The energy and great chemistry among the band’s members is obvious on stage and is also passed on to the crowd. By adding new songs weekly, they keep their playlist fresh, making the performances always interesting and explosive. Their performances are not to be missed; nothing compares to catching them live. They perform at DownTown Live in Nicosia every Saturday, and at Savino Live in Larnaca every first and third Friday of each month.
View the 2nd Diversity Arts Festival’s Facebook Event Page here
Click here for The Diversity Arts Festival schedule