The natural environment –as a vital space for survival, for man’s spiritual development and creation– is an inextricable part of culture. As part of the programme of Paphos 2017 European Capital of Culture, Dance Gate Lefkosia organised a workshop and an atelier to research ecological art methodologies as they pertain to a particular contested site located on the Akamas Peninsula.
The Atelier Akamas: Nature Embodied followed a 6-day workshop entitled: eco-art incubator - Sites Embodied. The purpose of this workshop was to expand the participating artists’ own artistic ways of knowing by collaborating with the tangible and intangible web of sensory, spiritual, cultural, historical, ecological and economic complexities of Androlikou, a small village in the Akamas Peninsula.
The findings of this workshop were discussed during the EDN Atelier. The works were intended to act as a tool for loosening and rearranging existing rhetoric and frames of thinking regarding the region and will help to create an inspirational and inclusive third space for discussion regarding the village of Androlikou and surrounding area. The shared work took many forms and included photographic documentation and readings of reflective writing as well as discussions and sharing around eco art practice and creative methodologies as they relate to this site and to the participating artists’ own practices and future work. The sharing happened primarily at the site of exploration and experimentation.
Alfredo Zinola, choreographer and performer who attended the Atelier, provides a report for EDN.
The Atelier was also documented in video, which you can find after the report.
Reflection on the economical and structural development of the Akamas peninsula
During 3 days in April I was at the Atelier of Nature Embodied project in the Akamas Peninsula, region of Pafos. The Atelier was focusing on the theme of ecology and sustainable development in art as in daily life.
Aim of the Atelier was to reflect on the economical and structural development of the Cypriot region and the possible connections with the body and the practice of a dancer. Different point of views emerged: on a site a profound fascination for the state of the agro-ecosystem of the Akamas peninsula generate the wish for many artists of preserving the place as it is; on the other side the same interest and fascination brings real-estate speculators and tourists to wish to modify the landscape and construct infrastructure for mass tourism, like huge buildings on the sea side. Who has the right to do what?…
The Atelier started with a panel about art and ecology and the experience of the panelist.
A series of actions, product of a previous workshop led by Denise Kenney and Nancy Holmes, and some evening performances were staged in different places of the semi-abandoned village of Androlikou and the open air Theatre of Droushia.
Are we “ecological” in our artistically practice? How does an artist interact with his surrounding, while entering a foreigner place? Where is the point of interest during an artistic practice?
As a spectator I could reefer to what my experience was.
Reflections on the meaning of ecological act
While watching and reflecting the actions as a spectator I could see that some works had a sort of “landscape sensible tendency”. In this case I felt as spectator facilitated by the artist to discover a mores sensible and attentive relationship with the landscape and the community. I could have time to look/smell/touch/walk my surrounding. I felt the permission with this practice to find my own personal sensible connection to the space, having time to discover it.
In other works I could perceive more a self-oriented tendency. Here my attention as a spectator was drawn to watch the performer and to his own relationship with the space. In this case I had the impression that for the artists the main goal was more the relation to themselves and their necessity of expression. In this case the attention for me as spectator was required to observe the artist and its feeling, the landscape it suddenly became just a nice background.
Is there a right surrounding-relationship? What if the artists that invented the actions I saw, would have been real-estate investors? How would they build a structure? How would they think of a develop plan for tourism in Akamas peninsula?
I imagine that the first category would probably be more attentive to the surrounding. Probably going more for sustainable buildings, that might respect the architecture of the region. Probably they would favorite local economy to emerge and probably they would create structures that would be for a restricted number of visitors.
On the other hand, the second category would probably base their planning on the personal needs of investors (earn as more money as you can) and tourists (get exactly what your deep feeling are aiming for, for the less price as you find). I can imagine that if it would be requested to develop a tourists development plan for the Akamas regions they would probably build a more comfortable buildings, were people could go and feel all the comfort and luxury that their feelings needs, with a beautiful landscape as a background: for example a luxury hotel on the beach…
How do we relate with what is our surrounding? How much are we able to perceive and to be sensible to our surrounding?
I personally think that art, has a great potential to create sensibility. Still “Surrounding” is a general word that implies not just beautiful landscape with sheep on a hill at the sunset going back to their farm, but also huge cement buildings in front of the sea. I think this is the great achievement of the eco-art: art can be applied to everywhere, it can be a solution for each daily surrounding.
Being part of the Atelier was a very interesting experience, first because we could have the chance to observe and reflect on the work of other artists, second because it was an occasion to deep more on what can be an ecological act means, that I wish to push further in my future works.
Report written by Alfredo Zinola for EDN, 2017.
Artistic works created in conversation with the environment acted as a tool for loosening and rearranging existing rhetoric and frames of thinking regarding the region and helped to create an inspirational and inclusive third space for discussion regarding the village of Androlikou and surrounding area.
Outcomes as a publication
Eco Art Incubator’s directors Denise Kenney and Nancy Holmes, who were the keynote speakers of the 10-day process leading to the EDN Atelier has been published in Canada in 2019 and is available as a handbook on the vary question of Arts, the Ecology and the Environment , from the hands on experience in AKAMAS / Natura 2000, Pafos, Cyprus.
Order the book online.