Behind the scenes

by Sergio Vaccaro

When I started thinking to 11bastions I wanted to tell the stories of a town, and an island, incredibly rich in humanity, arts, culture, internationalism: Nicosia and Cyprus.

Almost all the narrative about Cyprus that I’ve found around speaks about a divided place, or sometimes about an extraterrestrial place where everything is standard resorts, financial businesses and fake dreams of consumerism.

No, no, no. I’ve found an island full stories, stories of humans, with culture, soul and romanticism, able to make art starting from impulses and from the society. Cyprus is the homeland of the contemporary humanism.

Cyprus just deserves a different narrative.

What is a narrative? A narrative is a collection of stories harvested from one perspective.

The perspective here is a cultural system: capitalism criticism, culture regard, appreciation for differences and, of course, the non-recognition of the division as a structural identity of the island, but as a political fact.

The purpose, so, is to develop a different narrative, from a perspective that is not the business or the geopolitical interests, but in the daily walks in the narrow alleys, in the warm talks, in the hot temperatures, in the bodies, in the enchantment of the events, in the physical excitement for the arts, in the fertile soil of the mixing, in the common joy to share the Sun and a complex history.

Meanwhile, the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic arrived, and the tormented island hasn’t been able to take advantage of it, building a sanitary alliance, as it should be natural in a relatively small island. The two communities, quite mixed before despite the unresolved political issue, are now divided also from the epidemiological point of view. And the borders are de facto closed. Here is a wall again.

So, I am personally forced, now, to do exactly what I didn’t want to do in my storytelling: consider the division.

In the narrative that I had before the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic I could simply avoid the theme, and it was easy to play a game: you will not understand which side a story takes place.

Now it’s very difficult to not mind the barbed wires. Now I don’t have mixed people in my photos. Now names, locations, languages and pandemic restrictions belong to a specific side. I am experimenting, for the first time in my life, the problem of belonging.

That’s why I need help, now.

After a stop of months, I decided to continue the 11bastions project. But I am personally forced to the “here is what’s happening in the South” storytelling, that is exactly what I didn’t want to do. The beloved people, the ancient history, the Cypriot identity, the frontier culture, the island nature and the Mediterranean character are still there, but I am blind on one eye.

So, my hope is that somebody will tell me their stories, form the North or from everywhere in the island that don’t belong to “a side”.

Give me your stories, please.