Year

2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts

Department

Faculty of Creative Arts

Abstract

This Creative Arts doctoral project has engaged visual arts practice and academic investigation of national monuments in North Cyprus as complementary kinds of research via an exploration of material memory in relation to objects in the everyday surroundings. With regard to the decades-old intercommunal dispute in Cyprus, indications are that there are enduring habits of representation that both signal and participate in the non-resolved nature of the situation. Without the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot groups establishing for themselves the links of interdependency between how they represent each other and how they represent their own identities to themselves, they have yet to be fully engaged with respect to the history of antagonistic differentiation that they have participated in. The monumental commemorative forms in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are approached as visual elements in the everyday environment, ordinary yet extraordinary as objects condensed out of the flux of events, culture, memory, and experience in an interplay of the visible and the invisible. In this context it is proposed that Turkish Cypriot history be seen as a discursive interplay of presence and absence, where the subject is the people themselves, in which the national monuments began to appear at a particular point in time and continue to do so both as symbolic and concrete form and counterform in an on-going discourse. The visual arts practice stream of the research involved enquiry into ways of seeing and habits of thought in responding to the immediate surroundings. The artist’s own registering processes and thoughts became included as subjects of the explorations, in acknowledgement of a kind of dialectic involving personal (inner) and public (outer) space. In this art practice, the process of realisation and the realised object are active together in the social realm with simultaneous awareness of the individuality of perception, memory, and cognition involved in the interactivity, and the responsibilities therein. During this project, considerable reciprocity developed between the artistic practice and the academic research. The project makes a contribution to the visual cultural history of the Turkish Cypriot community and of Cyprus more broadly. It may also indicate some avenues of further exploration in research practice in bringing together different ways or kinds of thinking including the visual and artistic. Key words: absence, presence, experimenting, visual art, artistic engagement, dialectic, culture, memory, place, relationality, national monuments, memorials, national identity, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, TRNC, representation, traces, discursive interplay, cultural history, symbolic geography

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