Visual Narrations in Public Space: Codifying Memorials in Cyprus

By Vicky Karaiskou.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The public sculptures decorating the Cyprus landscape are nearly all monuments of commemoration and provide a semiotic vista that both promotes and enhances the memories of the surrounding individuals and groups. Busts, statues, and architectural complexes manifest the national identity of the country while also building a utopia, an imaginary and ideal political status. The figures also seek to develop the mindset of a heterotopia, working toward the future restoration of the national territory. Both conditions exclude the reality of the present time and space and, through eloquent visual narrations and connotations that capture key-concepts or certain political events, render their national aspirations as tangible entities. Nevertheless, realistic depictions are scarce because they tend to narrow the viewer’s mind on actual facts and invite critical debate. When applied, these narrative depictions are usually limited to certain postures, gestures or facial expressions that fabricate new typologies and codifications compatible with malleable and abstract nationalist ideological patterns. Adversely, the widely-used depiction of connotation in the art builds on emotional and cultural associations while proliferating established concepts, thus disconnecting them from situational contexts. This paper will articulate the different ways that memorials visualize identity issues, interact with pre-existing visual and written narrations, handle myths and versions of history, and cooperate decisively in the construction of the “biography of the nation.”

Keywords: Public Art, Memorials, Collective Identities, Visual Narrations, Commemoration, Cyprus

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 8, Issue 2, August 2014, pp.15-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.002MB).

Prof. Vicky Karaiskou

Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Studies, Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus