My work is influenced from where I come from, an island country confined by more than its natural water boundary but also by man-created borders, dead ends and city walls evidencing the island’s ancient and contemporary history of conflict, division and invasion. I grew up in a divided country as since the 1974 Turkish invasion Cyprus is divided in two and almost half of its territory is under Turkish occupation. Nicosia, my home city is the only remaining divided city in Europe. I am accustomed to the Cypriot, Greek and UN army as well as to barricades, buffer zones, no man’s land and the green line. I am accustomed to barriers and borders, not only natural like the sea surrounding the island, but also dead ends and borders.
Cyprus’ unique geographical location, a crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East and the resultant many minority ethnic and religious groups which call this piece of the world home feed my work as a continuous identity struggle between East and West, Christianity and Islam, Turkish and Greek, Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, Cypriot. I’ve always tried to make amends with my home and its natural and man-made borders that seem to want to cut me off from the rest of the world and also from people seemingly different to me because of their ethnic origin, religion and language. In my work I embrace fragmentation, stories that are broken and incomplete but yet meaningful and true to me. I am trying to understand life, the world around me, growing up and entering adulthood as well as coming to terms with bigger concepts like war, fragmentation, xenophobia and isolation.
My work focuses on the representation of imaginary creatures and explores my thoughts, ideas and desires. The characters act as my puppets and actors in my own narratives and tales. Sometimes these narratives may seem absurd, fragmented and incoherent. Yet, they are grounded to reality, from job searching, dating, to silly dilemmas like cooking or ordering dinner. My creatures like us humans, thrive and adapt in their everyday confrontations irrespective of whether these are familiar or alien circumstances that befall them. An eight-limbed woman-octopus can multitask and achieve everything she wants quickly and efficiently, allowing her to satisfy the wants and musts of her society whilst leaving her enough time to finish her job early, go out for shopping and do her nails (do octopuses have nails!?). A grumpy caterpillar that poops gold coins whenever someone rubs its tummy can be analogous to the current state of economy where tasks require you to do things you may or may not enjoy for the pure requirement of creating income. Do you want to rub its tummy? Both the octopus-woman and the caterpillar reflect the pressure, stress and identity crisis we experience in our 21st century society. Our current generation grows up striving for success in a highly competitive society that focuses mostly on the past rather than the future. Through these characters I am trying to tackle ideas like living in a dysfunctional capitalist society of simultaneous overwork and unemployment and the heavy pressure of one finding their own role in society but also self-worth. I view life like the theatre of the absurd, an incomprehensible state of existence. My characters and vivid imagination are a result of my attempts to reflect, explore and understand the truth about life and existence. This dysfunctional society exerts influence and manipulates my creatures’ spirits, appearance and mannerisms. The characters live out their play and we experience their shine on an arbitrary life.