Public art interventions in Northern Cyprus
: communication and interaction in disconnected communities

  • Aycan Garip

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Drawing on a relational understanding of art developed in the 20th century, this practice-led
    study explores how public art interventions provide insights into social, cultural, and
    political divides within fragmented communities, public visibility and representation for
    marginalized individuals and groups, and alternative views to the contextual norm.
    Situated within historical and critical contexts, and the ‘local’ setting of Northern Cyprus,
    this study explores components of public art interventions in relation to their ‘successful’
    practice. Northern Cyprus has been influenced politically, socially, and culturally by
    Turkey, the only country to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, since
    before the division of Cyprus. Conflict arising from the adoption of respective national
    identities caused separation of Greek Cypriots from Turkish Cypriots on the island.
    Varying views on the imposition of national and religious values upon Turkish Cypriots
    have marginalized progressive, alternative, and liberal lifestyles and ways-of-thinking.
    Unlike conventional platforms, public art interventions have the potential to attract
    attention to narratives surrounding social, political, and cultural issues isolated from
    traditional public platforms. The fieldwork consists of intervention-participants and the
    researcher-as-participant collaboratively and collectively creating public art interventions
    within varying contexts, using sound, performance, posters and stencils, situated in public
    spaces in Northern Cyprus, followed by the observation and documentation of postintervention
    participants’ engagement and interaction. The researcher-as-participant, using
    ethnographic interviewing methods, conversed with post-intervention participants about
    their intervention experience, providing a basis for hermeneutic analysis within the local
    context. Findings reveal that public spaces can be utilized as platforms accessible to all
    members of a community, making visible narratives deviating from those dominating
    traditional private and public platforms, narratives in which public art intervention
    practices reclaim the right to public space by marginalized and alternative communities
    excluded from the ‘public sphere’. Interventionists’ emic understanding of social, cultural,
    and political references can create form and content within a context that is inclusive of its
    audience, leading to successful public art intervention practices. Not every public art
    intervention has the same degree of success, and it is only through the careful articulation
    of form, content, and context that the practice is able to instigate thought and discussion
    surrounding the subject matter of the intervention beyond the practitioners’ circle.
    Date of AwardJun 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorDarren Newbury (Supervisor)

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