Upcoming exhibition Where Have You Been? is an art project inspired by the personal story of Cypriot artist Toula Liasi, who has been living and working in The Hague for nearly four decades. Her only brother, who has been missing since 1974, was found in a mass grave and identified through DNA in 2014, after 40 long years.
This overwhelming, emotional experience triggered a flood of ideas for an art project that addresses the problem of the missing people of Cyprus. In creating this art project, the artist hopes not only to embrace aesthetic ways of looking at tragic events and painful situations but also to illustrate how art has the power to unravel painful questions, deal with human emotions and at the same time negotiate issues of history, memory and politics.
The artist says that “normally, once the remains of missing persons are found, identified and properly buried, their relatives can close a long period of anguish and uncertainty. For me, after the call I received from the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus, that my brother was found in a mass grave and identified, the case didn’t close, but just began. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to come as close to him as possible. Till his very last moment.”
“The project Where Have You Been? is an agonizing call by Toula Liasi. A call to her brother, whose continuous tragic absence has defined her existentially and artistically, but also a call to us all, the viewers of her work,” comments director of NiMAC, where it will be staged, Dr Yiannis Toumazis.
“A call, the answer to which she herself devises with her work: everything we do, every action we take, each and every step of our earthly course, should be aimed at life rather than death. By activating her personal story, the artist, on the one hand, exorcises her heavy fate – that of her enormous loss – while, on the other hand, she sheds light on key issues and questions, balancing with mastery between the emotional proximity and the distant and dispassionate observation.”
The CMP has identified and returned the remains of 927 persons, out of 2,002, within a 13-year period.
Where Have You Been?
An exhibition by Toula Liasi dedicated to the missing persons in Cyprus. May 10-31. NiMAC, Nicosia. Opening night 7pm at the courtyard. Monday – Friday: 10am-2.30pm. Tel: 22-797400