Crossing Boundaries and Facing Economic Catastrophes
It seems that the joint entry by Cyprus and Lithuania to this year’s Venice Biennale is seeking to challenge the persistently national character of the organization. That this does indeed pose such a challenge is certainly not to be taken as a given. Hopefully, however, this can constitute at least the first steps of a larger turn away from the state-centred path that the Biennale has been treading on since its inception. For now, however, this “deconstructive” mood towards national identity seems to lead to quite a limited venture, insofar as the pavilion is still presented as the joint mission of two separate national units, rather than e.g. as one entity. What follows, then, pertains only to Cyprus’ half of the mission, and not to Lithuania’s.
Cyprus has recently had its 15 minutes of fame, its financial crisis placing the island center-stage in the global public sphere. The extreme measures taken in response to this crisis have included, notoriously, an unprecedented haircut on deposits by legal persons in two of the country’s major banks. Amidst its overall response to this situation, the EU has promised aid that will take the form of reallocation of various funding schemes towards Cyprus. What percentage, if any, of these funds are going to find their way toward projects relating to culture and the arts? For now, it looks like the answer might be: none. If so, how far could one say that this pavilion relates to the disappearance of Cyprus’s art?Andreas Vrahimis