residents of varosha, 2017

“Residents of Varosha”, 2017, installation
“Residents”, exprerimental film, duration: 7 min.
a photo-collage and objects (foam rubber, sea shells, organic glass)
T-shirts with drawings: 6 pieces (in collaboration with Lukrecija Balbierytė, Karolina Bartoševič, Anastasija Diukova, Lada Moskalenko, Julija Skobeleva and Gabija Sperskaitė)

Inčiūraitė proposes to draw our attention to the importance of the “composting” process, actively articulated by the philosopher Donna Haraway. It provides the possibility for the renewal of the “depleted earth”. Biodegradable waste laid in thin layers slowly rots, and due to these natural decaying processes, compost is formed. In this case, decay becomes a precondition for new life, and composting for the philosopher becomes an excellent example of defining ongoingness, which continues the relevant theories of becoming in the philosophical discourse. She places the emphasis on collectively created systems having no boundaries (sympoiesis), as opposed to self-reproductive systems (autopoiesis). Taking into account the massive problems of the ecosystem caused by human activity, Donna Haraway criticises posthumanism, although she herself has contributed significantly to developing this concept, and invites us to “compost”, to take part in collective action conducive to regeneration.

The city of Famagusta on the east coast of Cyprus has a district called Varosha, an isolated coastal area occupied by Turkey since 1974. In its heyday, it was a modern and luxurious resort, a favourite holiday destination for various celebrities; but today, entry is forbidden to the public, and only Turkish soldiers can go there. The country, which has been divided into two parts, is also disintegrating for other reasons. Studies of climate change published in the press predict sadly that in the future up to 40 per cent of the island of Cyprus may turn to desert.

Artist was walking along the fence of the forbidden Varosha area, observing its buildings affected by erosion. But the coast is revealed most impressively from a bird’s eye view. She found drone footage on the Internet. Inčiūraitė use this footage in her experimental film “Residents” (2017), which shows not only this gloomy part of Famagusta, but also tourists vacationing in another part of Cyprus, playing cards or practising Tai Chi. The film captures tourists glancing at the clock, as if they were in a hurry or waiting for somebody. According to artist, in tourist sites time freezes, just as in the stale Varosha area. Yet Varosha is teeming with invisible life: it is inhabited by turtles. Their population figures have not been recorded, as the area is off limits to civilians, and only Turkish soldiers are allowed there. A letter presented in the project, written in English by a member of the Cyprus Society for the Protection of Turtles, explains the situation. Turtles living in this isolated urban area turn into fantasy objects for people. Students from Vilnius’ art school drew the decoration of their shells, flourishing in the corners of our imagination. Thus, the layers of shell patterns and architectural details sustaining the disintegrating Varosha are “composted”.

Laid out next to a photo-collage from the abandoned Varosha area are glass squares and circles, which are a kind of crystallised mute vinyl (records and their sleeves) from the 1960s, frozen in the past, which today has been claimed by the Varosha turtles …  Also showcased are several larger rectangles, and smaller almost oval objects reminiscent of parts of buildings seen in an abandoned building in Varosha: the openings on its façade, whose form reminds me of turtle shells.

Photographs by Kristina Inčiūraitė