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Art: driving our culture forward

The art of learning about art, its history and how it influences our culture, and the way that art reflects life itself and its conflicts are two separate sides of the spectrum. But even though one analyses art and the other makes it, they are both very much a part of how we make sense of our surroundings.

Starting from the side of the spectrum about making art, the Point Centre for Contemporary Art will host a solo sculpture exhibition entitled Cast of an Island by Socrates Socratous as of today.

The exhibition showcases works that Socratous created during his residency at the centre for. The pieces focus on the issue of identity, contested territories and displacement.

Once Socratous’ works are broken down into their constituent elements, it is possible to see how each of these elements is in fact a sign that carries a memory. Like words conceal their history within their etymology, Socratous’ sculptures become legible as soon as we understand their origins. This is to say that once we start to see symbolism or nothing else but beauty in his work, the actual value of the exhibits is reduced.

In this exhibition, the origins or birthplaces of these works are workshops where Socratous chooses to work. In this collection the artist chose to use the colour of sand as his dominant element, telling of how sandstorms sweep the Mediterranean, regardless of borders. It moves through the north and south of Cyprus, landing where it will and creating patterns and small mountains wherever the sand lands.

For all those present at the opening of the exhibition, there will be an exhibit walk-though at 7pm.

Moving on to the art of teaching and learning about art, the Troubled Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East: Post-colonial conflicts, Pedagogies of art history, and Precarious artistic mobilization conference – that will take place from June 3 to 4 – will touch on how we learn about art.

The conference, hosted by Birbeck University of London and University of Nicosia, will concentrate on issues such as post-colonial conflicts and art, pedagogies of art history, development of art histories in contexts of conflict and more.

The importance of this conference is highlighted by the fact that the influence from Western European patterns of exhibition making and art historical models on the contemporary art historical and cultural practices circulating in Cyprus, the Middle East is being addressed more and more lately.

With this influence from Western European practices in mind, the conference will look at how art history is practiced, studied and developed, particularly where such narratives have only recently been developed. In areas of conflict, of ethno-national division and of long term patterns of segregation, the narratives of art history have often taken the role of reinforcing cultural and ethnic identity, and at other instances of bringing conflicted communities together in processes of creative dialogue.

Current art historical debates address the question of how we connect to our past and how we separate influences brought to us through post-colonial and post-modern narratives. Therefore, with this in mind, the further question is how can art history and practices be taught in conflict areas, given the increasingly corporate university educational system that is being run.

The keynote speakers are professor Wendy Shaw, Freie University of Berlin and Catherine David from the Pompidou Centre in Paris. The conference will be held at the University of Nicosia.

There will also be an evening reception for all involved on June 3 at 7.30pm at the Point Centre for Contemporary Art. Here speakers and participants can socialise in a more one-on-one environment.

Casts of an Island
Solo exhibition by Socrates Socratous. Opens May 28 at 6pm until July 16. Point Centre for Contemporary Art, 2 Evagorou Avenue, Nicosia. Tuesday-Friday: 11am-6pm and Saturday: 11am-5pm. Tel: 22-662053

Conference
Troubled Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East: Post-colonial conflicts, Pedagogies of art history, and Precarious artistic mobilization. June 3-5. University of Nicosia. All Day Event. €40/30. Tel: 22-842694

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