A short video released on Friday by a local artist who was injured by a police water cannon during an anti-corruption protest aims to break the silence on the “rotten” Cypriot government.
The 11-minute video under the title Ode to a Naked King, is “dedicated to defenders of human rights and democratic values”, writer and singer Anastasia Demetriadou aka Nama Dama told the Cyprus Mail.
The video was influenced by the anti-corruption protests that took place in Cyprus on February 13 in Nicosia. The 25-year-old artist participated in the protest, where she was hit in the face by a police water cannon while she was dancing on the street.
Anastasia had to undergo two surgeries on her left eye, and she has permanent visual impairment from the injury.
“I decided to make this video not only because I needed personal closure after the abuse I have experienced by Cyprus police, but also because I wanted to encourage other artists to step out of the shadows and begin discussing matters that really concern them,” she said
The video is divided into three parts; “the first part is a song I wrote about Anastasiades and the rotten system, the second is a poem of mine about Cyprus and the third is a cover version of Karakolia,” Anastasia explained.
She highlighted the importance of cultivating a breeding ground for political art and discussion. “Corruption, impunity, state violence, police brutality, censorship, and the constant rise of far-right parties are enough reasons for me,” she said.
Her original song is played as the video shows footage of Anastasia being tied up and blindfolded with a military man trying to feed her newspaper balls and throws a bottle of water on her face.
It directly refers to the protest saying people gathered with “empty hands,” but police were “not so fond of us” so they “shot us down, but we will not bow”.
Then, Anastasia is shown walking into the sea while she is heard reciting her original poem in the background.
The other song she referred to is a version of the Greek traditional song Touti I Mpatsi pou Irthan Tora (Those coppers who just walked in) performed by the Greek band Villagers of Ioannina City. The entire song wonders what do the “coppers” want, saying “they came to boss us around” and referring to one of them as a “fascist”.
At the end of the video Anastasia is shown dancing with other young women. She then sends a kiss to the camera with a three-finger salute before she breaks the window of what appears to be a police car using a hammer.
A painting by Cypriot artist George Gavriel also acted as a main inspiration behind the video and its title, Anastasia said. The painting depicts President Nicos Anastasiades naked, wearing a crown and holding a whiskey bottle.
“History has taught us one thing. Freedom should not be taken for granted. It is in our hands to nourish and preserve it for as long as we can,” Anastasia said.
Cyprus is a place, where silence is often “endorsed and expected”, the artist said, arguing that small steps towards change can make the country a “better place”.
“It is not against the law to speak out, yet Cypriots choose not to. You see, silence, repression and ignorance are remnants of Cypriot history and many are not even aware of their behaviour, simply because it is deeply rooted in the culture.”
Anastasia believes it is time for change. “I am not talking about drastic changes. Small, steady steps is what we need in order to make this country a better place.”