Topic: NOT FOR ART... international that is...
"Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become)"
"Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution."
I begin, borrowing a four lines from the renowned poet C.P.Cavafy for I too, along with many others are bewildered with not only the breakdown of negotiations much needed to realize Manifesta 6 but also with the official public handling of the whole fiasco.
It was certainly a brave decision on the part of the Ministry of Culture and Education, the Municipality of Nicosia and the Municipal Centre of Contemporary art to apply for consideration for the hosting of Manifesta 6. This decision required a tremendous amount of research and understanding of the nature of previous Manifesta events. This decision also reflected the post referendum adoption of a more aggressive campaign by the Cypriot government in order to promote a more consummate image of Cyprus and Cypriot culture internationally. Thus, from the outset, applying for M6 was a political decision incorporating within it a full understanding of the political context of staging Manifesta and the diplomacy required for staging such a mandate in a divided Nicosia. This was abundantly clear to all concerned well before the application and lobbying began and it was this very issue that strengthened our chance of being selected.
The announcement by the NFA that their decision to abort Manifesta 6 as the curators have rendered it a political issue rather than a purely cultural event requires transparency. It is a naive legal phraseology which clouds the real issues. In spite of the NFA's insistence on the non political nature of their actions, their decision to terminate the contract with both IFM and the curators is a case of political censorship without due consideration to the important issue of international/national cultural diplomacy. This censorship scandal has itself politicized the cultural event. Most importantly, the serious implication of the announcement made by the NFA implies a retraction and unwillingness to solve any problems which might arise from the participation and reconciliation within a bicommunal context. This unacceptable political and social blunder will become a focus issue for the international community.
Desperately in need of a change of attitude in our politicians, we naively believed that the success of securing M6 was an indicator of our newly acquired "european" future, a future which will be all about the creation of possibilities and finally the possibility of contemporary Cypriot art and education to be reflective of its own condition. Unfortunately there will be no change and yes, our contemporary cultural and educational standards do reflect our condition, a condition of the lack of healthy cultural debate, a painful absence of fostering an idea of openness and engagement outside the suffocating official institutional infrastructure. An infrastructure which is essentially a monolithic, monocultural, xenophobic monster devoid of any ambition for change and choosing to defend the positions and pockets of a few who are themselves fearful and intolerant of any attempt at 'alterity'.
No one would have anticipated such a degree of unprofessionalism, political cowardice and arrogance with a total absence of an ethical code of practice in full vision of the international community.