Ephemera - PhMuseum

Ephemera

Radu Diaconu

2017 - Ongoing

Cyprus

Synopsis

Cyprus, a land divided between two communities since Turkey’s invasion and the war of 1974, is united by a river crossing from the West to the East - a tale told through its eyes.

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Proposal

Cyprus, a small island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean, has been divided since 1974 following Turkey’s coup.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or TRNC, controls approximately 1/3 of the island and the Republic of Cyprus, the officially recognized government of Cyprus, and an EU member, controls the other 2/3rds.

Before the war, before the division and before the now-infamous buffer zone, the Pedieos river ran from its source in the mountains of Machairas to the magnificent bay of Famagusta in the East – in an undivided island.

The river tells the tale of a divided nation. A lot of blood was shed during the conflict, leading the Turks to call it “Kanli Dere”, or bloody river. Running from the south into the divided capital of Nicosia to the north into the TRNC, the Pedieos represents today a way to comprehend the various elements that make up part of this complicated conflict.

By following the river one can see how the landscape changes, how religion is omnipresent on both sides and how, to a certain extent, it comes to define the lives of those who live there. Certain stories are told by the river - lessons both sides can gain from understanding that nature rules undivided, even if men’s actions come to define the lives of those stuck on both sides.

This project aims to understand what people have lost, what they have gained and what hope people of this island ever have of coming together, of coming back home and of living together.

The river tells a tale as it runs its course, but this river is temporary. As the rain appeases and the summer sun turns the grass into dry wheat, the land of fire awakens, and the river disappears. Like all things in this world, nothing, not even conflicts, lasts forever.

I have already followed part of the 98km length of the river in search of answers, once in winter 2017 and another in the spring of 2019. I have met people on both sides who care deeply about this issue and want to see it come to an end.

My purpose is to bring these stories to life and to create an interactive map dotted with various points of interest that readers will be able to click on as they follow the river from its inception to its final destination. These points highlight the landscape or lack thereof, the stories of people that live in its vicinity and show how Cypriots (Greek and Turkish) have always viewed the river as a natural extension of their life on the island and have perched some of their most important shrines and on its path.

Cyprus is not only marked by religion, Orthodox Greeks make up around 80% of the population and Muslim Turks the other 20%, but by its geographical location as a bastion for many other minorities in the region (Latin, Maronites, Armenians) who have also suffered greatly as a result of the ongoing conflict. To think that 45 years later some of these towns are still ghost towns, inhabited, or militarily occupied and fenced off from their own communities is truly a tragedy. Greek Cypriots live in limbo, waiting for resolution, awaiting to return to the lands they owned in the North that are now occupied by Turks from Turkey who came after ’74 to settle and cultivate the land. Turkish Cypriots live in fear and anxiety, thankful for the protection that Turkey affords them but tired of being a pawn in the ever-consuming geopolitical games of the region. Neither side wants to give, neither side wants to lose – hence, the everlasting stalemate.

These stories have never been told in the way this project aims to and that is why I am more conscious that now, more than ever, is the time, before a reunified or federal Cyprus, before those who have lost everything whither away and die, to be present, to show them and to help them reconcile with one another. I hope this project can do justice and contribute to the peace that one day will certainly come.

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  • Deftera, Cyprus, March 2019. A young girl stands in front of an icon to pray inside the Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church, one of the holiest places on the Island. This church was built directly in the rocks, just below the Pedieos river.

  • Episkopeio, Cyprus, March 2019. The Russian Church of St. Nicholas, one of the biggest and most impressive Orthodox Church on the island is built a few meters from the Pedieos river.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, March 2019. Inside the Museum of Atrocities, in Lefkosa, where the portrait of family members killed during the troubles of 63-64 are put on display. The story says that Greek-Cypriots used to river to reach this house and kill the family who was hiding in the bathtub

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, October 2018. Clothes are drying on a line as a rooster makes his way under it inside the courtyard of a home in the old city of Lefkosa, in the TRNC. Houses that used to belong to Greek Cypriots were given away to Turkish Cypriots after the war on a "point-based" system. After Turkish-Cypriots moved into the suburbs, Turks, Kurds and Arabs from Southern Turkey started moving in as temporary workers or residents.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, December 2017. An elderly Turkish man stands for a portrait in Northern Lefkosa.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, 2018. A poster of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hangs on the wall of a house as a woman walks by on the streets of the old city of Lefkosa, in the TRNC. Turkey has been financing the state since 1974, first sending settlers to populate the land and now temporary workers to work and hopefully settle in the TRNC.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, December 2017. Young kids playing inside a field in Lefkosa, in the TRNC.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, April 2019. A young girl plays inside her garden in the old city of Lefkosa, TRNC.

  • Cyprus' National Day in Nicosia, Cyprus, April 1st 2019. At the site of the Imprisoned Graves, where the rebel fighters of the EOKA movement, which fought for the liberation of Cyprus from British colonial rule and reunification with Greece are buried. A military contingent makes an official salute to honor the fighters. Their attempts failed and were followed by Turkey's 1974 that has divided the island and the capital, Nicosia ever since. Sentiments of national pride are still very much alive in the last divided island in Europe and while many Cypriots from both sides (Turkish and Greek) wish to be part of a united island in a united Europe, some Greek Cypriots are still calling for reunification with Greece, which they consider their true motherland.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, March 2019. A view of the river Kanli Dere (Pedieos in Greek) on the Turkish side of Nicosia. During the troubles of 63-64, Greek-Cypriots used the river as a passage to kill and frighten Turksih Cypriots who favored “Taksim” (division of the Island into two communities).

  • Tuzla, TRNC, May 2019. Darvish Ahmet, the keeper of the Mosque and a Turkish Cypriot, poses for a picture in front of the mosque in the city of Tuzla.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, 2019. A view of a new mosque being constructed in the TRNC. The TRNC, bankrolled by Turkey, follows closely the policy of Islamization set forth by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and many new mosques have been built in the TRNC with money from Turkey.

  • Pano Deftera, Cyprus, April 2019. A view of the Pedieos river as it starts to dry during the final weeks of spring. The river only runs during the rainy season, from November until March.

  • Haspolat, TRNC, April 2019. A view of the village of Haspolat, in the TRNC, situated next to the river Kanli Dere (Pedieos in Greek).

  • Haspolat, TRNC, April 2019. A military zone located next to the village of Haspolat, next to the Kanli Dere (Pedieos river).

  • Famagusta, TRNC, November 2018. Chris Anastasiou, a Greek-Cypriot poses for a picture on the famous beach of Famagusta, where the first Turkish invasion of 1974 took place. Chris's house used to be on the beach, in Varosha, but the area is now an enclaved military zone. He is waiting for a settlement so that he may go back to his once more.

  • Famagusta, TRNC, November 2018. The Salaminia Tower in Famagusta, as it stands after being bombed by Turkish planes in 1974. The area has been left untouched for 45 years.

  • Nicosia, Cyprus, May 2019. A view of Nicosia from a roof in the old town. Nicosia is the last divided capital of Europe, a remnant of the conflict and the troubles that started in the 50s and ended with the Turkish invasion of 1974 that divided the island.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, December 2017. A man walks inside the streets of the old city of Lefkosa, in the TRNC.

  • Lefkosa, TRNC, April 2019. Young kids relaxing in the courtyard of the Selimiye Camii, a Gothic church that was re-purposed as a Mosque when the Turks invaded in the 16th century.


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