Creating Truth was dedicated to the idea that truth — albeit it’s connotation with something objective — is always a made-up story that a certain group of people shares. Depending on where you start telling this story, you end up with a different narration. And this might even be true when two different starting points are close to each other, let’s say they are only a buffer zone away from each other.
Nicosia/Lefkosa is, as the name already suggests, a divided city, the capital both of the Turkish and Greek Republic of Cyprus (although the first one not being acknowledged internationally as an independent state). Luckily, since the early 2000s the border between the two is open for those with a valid passport. Nevertheless, both sides try hard to keep a difference between both Cyprus‘: choosing a tourist-map from either of the side, will leave you blank streets on the other side.
Working with a group from Switzerland called unfinished business, we felt uncomfortable to enter the city with a premade performance. Neither of us had really been to Nicosia, so neither of us really knew what the atmosphere felt like, how people related to the border. That’s why we decided to host three workshops in which we would create participatory audiowalks, leading up to a final, public event. It was more about creating a method to meet the city than facing it with personal assumptions.
The basic method consisted of the following: each participant was given a audiorecorder. With those they were invited to walk through the city and record where they were going and what they were observing. Those audiowalks would then serve as guides for other participants, enabling them to see the city through the perspective of somebody else.
This method was then to be elaborated with participants throughout the workshops. The goal was to provide interesting audiowalks for the public event that focussed on what people imagined the city to look like in the future.
Creating Truth was invited to the Urban Emptiness Festival that took place from the 1st to 10th of December. Unfortunately, the festival was lacking audience outside from the festival itself. We tried our best to talk with people from the city and inviting them to our workshops but without success. We ended up creating the audiowalks mainly our own, with a couple of other artists from the festival. Although it was possible for us to just develop and play around the method on our own, we missed getting local perspective on the political and social situation for the audiowalks.
Nevertheless, the method turned out to be both a powerful and fun tool to explore a city. On the final day, we used audiowalks we had recorded with a handful participants a couple of days ago on a fixed route. We formed two groups, one starting at one ending point, the other group starting at the opposing starting point. Everybody was given a personal audiowalk (even amongst the group they were given different audiotracks), and then we hit play at the same time. This way, everybody was experiencing a different image of the city.
We hope to repeat this method in another context and with more participants. Also, we are planning an exhibition with the video-, photo-, and audiomaterial that we were gathering during our stay. The exhibition will most likely be shown in Bern, Switzerland, in 2018.
contributors: Pius Bacher, Mirjam Berger, Thibault Schiemann
place: city of Nikosia/Lefkosa
date: 3rd to 10th of December 2017
host: Urban Emptiness Festival
further information: whatthetruth.org