Etymologically, the word ’nostalgia’ is derived from the Greek words ’nostos’ and ’algos’, meaning ’return’ and ’suffering’. It is used to express the suffering of an unappeased yearning to return; the sadness caused by the impossibility of returning; a longing for home; band also implies the pain of ignorance, of not knowing what is happening or what has become of something. The concept of land on the island of Cyprus has changed radically since the military and political events of 1974. The division of the island into a Southern Greek and a Northern Turkish part after the invasion of Turkish troops in August 1974 forms a climax in the turbulent history of Cyprus. Though Greek and Turkish Cypriots had lived together until that point, they then fled each to one side of the island, leaving behind their homes and lives. Although it has been possible for a few years now to cross the UN-controlled buffer-zone between the two halves, the essence of the situation has not changed, and the division still resonates in people’s minds. Shot from a tourist observatory in Greek Nicosia, the video nostalgia shows a panoramic view of the Turkish part of Cyprus, seen from across the buffer-zone. The soundtrack is a collection of the sounds you can hear along this so-called Attila Line dividing the island from coast to coast – sounds from the beaches around the ghost-town of Varosha and its abandoned houses, from the Ledra Museum observatory in Nicosia, a war memorial and various other sites. nostalgia questions the geopolitical meaning of land and the exploitation of the landscape by tourism in connection to political propaganda. But how is this physical border a mental border? nostalgia reflects on the emotionally evocative and provocative qualities of the landscape. The image of the external space blending with the internal acts as a metaphor for the ongoing situation in Cyprus.
nostalgia, 2009, Pieter Geenen © the artist. Courtesy of Annie Gentils Gallery, Antwerpnostalgia, 2009, Pieter Geenen © the artist. Courtesy of Annie Gentils Gallery, Antwerp