«The shroud of Cyprus / Η Σινδόνη της Κύπρου», Double video projection, 5:25 minutes
Video 1– An ordinary worn, torn Cyprus flag flies in silence on a mast eternally against a blue sky. The olive branch beneath the faded island of Cyprus is missing. The cause of how it got to this state is not clear, has it been forgotten, a veteran of many battles, or just simply weathered? The location of the flag is visually omitted yet the wind and city sounds are heard merging with the radio sounds of video 2.
Video 2– Via a specialized art conservator procedure, the above flag has been preserved on a stretched canvas to be placed in a protective glass-frame. Like a holy shroud, a museum masterpiece, or even a family heirloom, it is aimed to be exhibited.
Cyprus flag 115x157cm, Andri Melis, conservator of the Department of Antiquities is filmed by Elmos Neokleous/ background classical music on radioBayrak International – 105.0 FM Nicosia.
On screen text as part of narrative/telling/recounting:
The goal of the conservator is to stabilize the remaining original flag and integrate any repairs in order to preserve what is left; the continuation of our existence.
-Wash a 100 percent cotton plain weave fabric several times to remove surface treatments, like starch, that cause discoloration and will not accelerate the deterioration of the flag.
-Stretch the prewashed cotton on a wooden frame, and gently unroll your flag.
-Remove dust and other soiling components to eliminate and reduce catalysts of chemical deterioration process.
-Place pins on an angle through the flag, paying attention to the frayed edge of the fabric that has worn away with loose and broken threads.
– Due to the fragility of the weave surface, very little pressure should be applied to the flag with a hand held spatula iron set at 60 degrees C.
-Use a curved needle to sew the flag onto the stretched canvas. The curved needle should be long and thin. Thread the needle with cotton or cotton wrapped poly thread. Use a 40 weight thread (225 Denier), because it is thinner and will minimize the visual disturbance to the flag. Avoid polyester thread, which will slice through fibers if drawn too quickly or pulled too tight.
-Stitching techniques have been developed by the conservation community to support the flag without over stitching.
-With the curved needle apply a horizontal row of herringbone to the top edge of the needlework. Vertical rows of herringbone approximately 1 inch to 3 inches apart, depending on the fragility of the textile, executed from top to bottom starting from the center out. An overcast stitch should be applied to the entire perimeter.
-When stitching, try not to pierce the textile’s yarns. Instead try to cross over them so that the stitch supports the yarn. Do not pull the sewing thread tight, this will strangle your thread and cause it to break in the future.
-Now that the flag is mounted, it may be inserted into a frame safely.
-Even if your flag is cared for and displayed properly, it will still experience the effect of natural aging and dirt accumulation.
Exhibit: The restored framed Cyprus Flag as seen in Video 2, 118x167cm
What is the association of the shroud to the flag of Cyprus? The shroud of Turin authenticity has been greatly disputed, yet at the same time, the idea of its existence alone indicates that something extraordinary might have happened; something beyond human reason. Similarly, do the people of Cyprus believe that indeed a miracle might happen here, and that the Cyprus issue might be indeed solved?
The flag of Cyprus came into use on August 16, 1960 when Cyprus was proclaimed an independent state. To many the Cyprus flag is not so much a national symbol so much as a political, historical, religious and psychological symbol of the division of the island and for others of national unity.
Beyond Cyprus politics; The Philosophy of Restoration
Restoration is a highly controversial topic. The debate has raged since the first awareness of a concept of value beyond function. While what is appropriate remains unresolved, pieces of history live and die
by subjective rules and restorations– nobody is the end all of authority. The owner of a piece chooses its destiny, and integrates his or her personality into its history through the entire tenure of their possession. This integration may increase or decrease its value in a subjective world of appraisals.
Restoration Schools of Thought;
The first school; Do nothing, accept the piece as it appears no matter how poor the condition.
The second school; Acquire pieces that with skillful restoration will return to a state of beauty, maintaining a good percentage of the value.
The third school; Strip it bare and fix it any way you can to make it look new and functional again no matter how much of the true value is lost. Stripping a piece removes the history of a piece, it destroys the continuity of the timeline created by generations of use.
“The shroud of Cyprus”, tries to raises many questions, including; Who decides what should be preserved, touching upon Conservation philosophy and ethics of When| What| How. Is this battered ordinary flag worth preserving? To be preserved for whom/where? Who decides? Politicians? The community? The experts? In the national historical collection, a private collection? The desperate need for restoration of a nation? The preservation of a selective memory, of the present time? Is the flag a cultural heritage? Is it an art piece, (it is signed after all by an artist) symbolizing the continuing dispute that put this flag into this state, to be exhibited in a modern Art museum? Should the flag be preserved for its (assumed) artistic, cultural and historical importance? Who decides? Perhaps there are no mistakes in history, the whole history is a mistake? Is this true or even of any relevance here? Different cultures preserve an extraordinary diverse range of different types of things, not including the many types of persons or agencies who are willing to decide on this matter? Whenever we wish to preserve something, we find that we have a mixture of fully justified, widely recognized values. But each of these, if maximized, conflicts with other justified recognized values, so that choices can be made, not necessarily to preserve one and not the other, but how much and what aspects of each to preserve in relation to the other and how, and within our own overall, complex system of values.
Poem on a restored Cyprus flag [Questioning what should or is worth preserving]
Σημαίες | Bayraklar | Flags.
Translated to Turkish- Maria Siakalli |English- Galateia Georgiou.
κι οι σημαίες, σκυμμένες και τρύπιες
να σαπίζουν στον μολυσμένο αέρα
της περηφάνιας τους
Harabeler her yerde
yıkılmaya yüz tutmuş kapılar
ve onların gururunun
kirli havasında çürümeye terk edilmiş
delik dolu eğilmiş bayraklar
çeviri: Maria Siakalli
and the flags full of holes are
left to rot in the polluted air
of their pride.
Translation: Galateia Georgiou.