Topic: Disruption versus Criticality

Two years of work with sporadic visits to Nicosia, although a substantial effort, does not automatically ensure a authoritative understanding and experience of the reality of a historical conflict zone. A reality which is both complex and fragmented. A reality already familiar with disruptive tactics of a far more serious nature than any disruptive action envisaged by cultural workers and cultural events.

Although I criticised IFM for their 2005 goodwill greeting (neme.org/main/12/open-letter-to-manifesta), I was an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of the proposed M6 school. I believe that education through art and cultural events is truly capable of laying the foundations for change in the perceptions of this very unreal and unacceptable reality. Education can create the scope for freedom of expression and genuine understanding of difference and it is only within this framework that we can progress to discuss the very crucial issue of conceptual and cultural freedom.

Energising a potential for transformation however, requires a flexibility, a criticality and real scholarship based on local community contexts. Contextualising a critical debate should include different views and experiences whilst genuinely examining the construction and deconstruction of meanings and their specific manipulations. Most of the M6 forum participants and organisers indicated, by the nature of their posts, that they had failed to understand this vital relationship and as such, this problematic project lost much support (including mine) over the duration of the various forums.

They did succeed, unfortunately, in further fermenting the very issues which they had initially aimed to address. The resulting catastrophe of communication resurfacing old resentments with superficial readings, a myriad of injustice and grief from both sides, a tendency by many to regurgitate a legacy of well inculcated propaganda revealed a collective vacuum of alienation, depression and isolation.

A well moderated intelligent albeit conflictual participation on a forum is not a bad thing. In fact, it might have been capable of opening up a new platform of ideas and debate flourishing within the co-presence of difference. However, the barrage of undue inflammatory remarks, the celebration of negative personal attacks and liberal use of sarcasm eradicated any possibility of constructive critique and support.

What now appears to have been a tactical activity of one hundred days duration, most likely would have not succeeded in effecting a noteworthy change as the very people responsible for this direct action have already demonstrated that they too, have been absorbed into the divisive vacuum.

Regrettably, emotions and thinking are still entrenched within this in-between space and life for most in Cyprus, will continue to remain unexamined.