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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