Topic: CURATORS REPLY TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY NFA
(NFA - bold, Curators - Italics)
The President and the Board of Nicosia for Art Ltd. wish to make the following public announcement:
1. The Nicosia Municipality through Nicosia for Art (NFA) undertook the organization of Manifesta 6, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art in Nicosia. To this end the Municipality signed respective agreements with the International Foundation Manifesta (IFM) and a team of 3 Curators (Mr. Florian Waldvogel, Mr. Anton Vidokle and Mrs. Mai, Abu ElDahab).
2. During the implementation of the organization, which was initiated in 2004 a number of problematic issues had arisen for the resolution of which NFA and its Board have spared no effort.
NFA made no effort to find resolutions, propose compromises and showed no willingness to cooperate in any way.
3. Recently and contrary to the original concept of the Manifesta 6 program the Curatorial team insisted in the establishment and operation of an essential part of the Manifesta 6 school in the occupied part of Nicosia.
Not true: since the beginning of the project we consistently maintained that Manifesta 6 School will be located in various venues in the entire city of Nicosia. Every part and venue of Manifesta 6 school is essential.
4. Through relevant correspondence, NFA and its Board, have made clear from the outset that the establishment and operation on a permanent basis of an essential part of the school in the occupied part of Nicosia apart from being in conflict with certain aspects of Cyprus and International Law, was also outside the ambit of the terms of the respective agreements and in breach of NFA's contractual right to have autonomy in making decisions of this kind. The above was a major obstacle in the continuation and the realization of Manifesta 6.
Not true: since the beginning of the project Mr. Toumazis, Mr. Zambelas and Ms. Michaelidou consistently maintained that operation of venues in the North is fully possible and desirable. To emphasize this further, at a meeting with representatives of IFM board in Nicosia, Mr. Zambelas showed all of us his photo with Mr. Kutlay Erk (cover of a UN publication) and said that they are good personal friends and unofficial collaboration is fully possible. In May 2005 Yiannis Toumazis took Anton Vidokle and Florian Waldvogel for a meeting with Mr. Kutlay Erk at his office in the north to specifically discuss possibility of having Manifesta 6 venues on that side of the city. Starting late summer 2005 Mr. Toumazis authorised Constantinos Filiotis to conduct a research of various vacant buildings/spaces in the north and compile a map and archive documentation on these possible venues. In early November a 4 story building belonging to Onar family was visited and discussed, a price was quoted. From December onwards a house belonging to Zincir family was under discussion, blue prints were obtained, property deed presented and price quoted.
No specific Cyprus or International law was ever cited to the curatorial team that could directly or indirectly prohibit renting any of these buildings for Dept. 2.
The past precedents of five Manifest editions and our current curatorial contract clearly assigns to the Curators the task of selection of venues, not the Host (NFA). (see Curatorial contract paragraph 1.3).
5. NFA made repeated efforts to lift the above deadlock calling upon IFM for a discussion of the issues involved. NFA also called upon the Curatorial team to engage in mediation in accordance with the terms of the Curators' contracts.
Not true: All efforts to produce a compromise or a solution were initiated by Curators and International Foundation Manifesta. As the process bogged down after the Coffee Break Conference, on 16 of February, 2006, Florian Walvogel travelled to Tallin to a meet with the board of IFM and Yiannis Toumazis to discuss the problems, Toumazis claimed a gym accident and failed to attend the meeting. On March 11, Martin Fritz - a board member of IFM, on the request of Curators travelled to Nicosia to meet with Toumazis and Curators in attempt to mediate the serious disagreements. On March 25 IFM organized a meeting with Toumazis, Curators and IFM board Members in Berlin in yet another attempt to resolve the problems. On May 12 Hedwig Fijen came on an emergency visit to Nicosia to attempt to find a compromise solution with Mr Zambelas, Finally on May 26 Florian Waldvogel and Nicolas Efstahiou met for an official mediation meeting in Nicosia as provisioned in the contract. All the meetings were initiated by Curators or IFM and none produced any solutions or a compromise as the position of the Host was categorically intransigent.
6. IFM declined to engage in immediate talks with the purpose of lifting the existing deadlock; the Curators also rejected any form of mediation. The above facts together with IFM's decision in disputing NFA's contractual right to have full autonomy in the decision with regards to the place of establishing and operating the school and of the Manifesta 6 program in general, led to an essential deadlock.
See reply to point 5. NFA has no contractual autonomy as the selection of venues is up to the Curators. Under our contract NFA's responsibility is to facilitate rental and maintenance of such venues. (see contract paragraph 1.3)
7. At the same time the Curators by way of statements to the Press and with written comments in the forum of the official website of Manifesta 6, made every effort in creating a political issue out of a purely legal matter. In addition to this, IFM's official statement that it would unilaterally make the necessary arrangements for the operation of the Manifesta 6 school in the occupied part of Nicosia gave the Curators the "necessary" support in disputing NFA's contractual rights and to continue in their effort to create a political issue out of a purely cultural event.
The Curatorial contract does not include a confidentiality clause or any expressed prohibition about speaking to press. We have done so in numerous interviews, presentations and conferences for the duration of the project.
The issue was politicized exclusively by the NFA insofar as they insist on prohibiting venues in the north on political grounds: refusal of some of the Greek Cypriots to cross a check point, produce a passport in Nicosia, have a visa paper stamped. We deeply respect individual political views held by all Cypriots, but maintain that these are individual decisions that prevent them from crossing, not laws of Cyprus or International Laws. The curators recognize that this is an issue and planned to find creative ways of addressing it in the project.
8. NFA considers the above actions of the Curators and of IFM as unilateral breaches of fundamental terms of their respective agreements with NFA. In addition NFA considers as unacceptable the effort of assigning political dimensions to a cultural event, which had as one of its primary aims the creation of a platform of cooperation between the two communities in Cyprus, within a spirit of solidarity and common understanding.
The breach of conrtact is clearly an action taken by NFA as it unilaterally and arbitrarily fired the Curatorial team on June 1st, and cancelled Manifesta 6 on June 2, thus breaching its obligations under its contract with IFM.
Regarding political dimensions, please see reply to point 7.
9. As a result, having exhausted all the possibilities to lift the ensuing deadlock, NFA with a view of protecting its contractual rights and in an effort to avoid organizing Manifesta 6 in contravention of the prevailing legal framework and the provisions of the respective agreements, terminated its agreements with IFM and the Curators Mr. Florian Waldvogel, Mr. Anton Vidokle and Mrs. Mai Abu ElDahab.
This is completely wrong as per all the replies to the above points.
10. In order to safeguard its legal rights NFA has instructed its lawyers in Cyprus and in The Netherlands Zomenis & Leontiou and Houthoff Buruma N.V. to take all necessary steps to claim damages against both IFM and the
team of Curators.