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Onwards and backwards:
Colonialism and intersectionality

The 9th Xarkis Festival will take place in Agros (Limassol district), from the 15th-17th of July 2022 and will include an Artists’ Residency programme starting from the 4th of -14th of July. Over a period of 10 days, a group of selected artists are invited to work together with our team and with the local community, to prepare creative works that will contribute to the program of the three-day Festival.

Participants of the Multi-Residency programme and local community members will co-create outcomes in ways that allow them to focus on issues of interest, things that are important to them, and ways that enable them to manage their representation. 

Residents are called to respond to these ideas via a site-specific project developed in the hosting community. This residency programme will draw emphasis on the human, natural and cultural heritage found in the hosting community. In this context, each artist is called to respond to one challenge that explores the theme of the festival – colonialism and its effects, via an ‘intersectional’ lens. This covers a range of transversal issues ranging from race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, the environment and social class.

This project proposes an alternative to cultural projects which at times may be invasive and re-create new forms of colonialism through top-down and exclusionary approaches in contemporary settings.

Two driving questions include: 

  • How can we unpack the topic of colonialism and resist neo-forms of colonialism which are bound by extraction and exploitation in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘growth’, through contemporary art forms?
  • How can we achieve social and environmental inclusivity, ensuring that diverse voices on the topic of colonialism and neo-colonialism are listened to?


On the quest towards disrupting hegemonic heritage narratives, and being mindful of an omnipresent risk of reproducing inequalities via contemporary art practice, we are interested in exploring opportunities that shed light on bottom-up experiences to colonial legacies, whilst addressing environmental and societal urgencies, in ways that lead to sustainable societies, and a transition towards a more inclusive and fair world that leaves no one behind. 

As a form of decoloniality, we not only wish to engage communities but aim to co-exist with those who are experts in their own lives and take the time to listen to and learn from their own experiences and insights. The process entails interpreting key aspects of their heritage, including what is often left unsaid, and sharing untold stories that deserve to be spoken, within and beyond the gallery context. 

Acknowledging the limitations on, and competing interests between, actors involved in cultural heritage, and tensions between the institutional and independent sectors, which often set limits around conversations and disempower those who have a stake, we wish to help create the conditions to talk about taboos and unpack complex conversations.

In this Festival, we aim to create safe spaces to decolonise existing practices and guiding narratives, and ultimately retell the story of colonialism through a contemporary ethical framework. 

About intersectionality

A typical way of communicating how crises connect in real-life experiences is through adopting an intersectional lens. ‘Intersectionality’, drawn from Feminist theory, is a term coined by Kimberlé Krenshaw (1989), to offer a context in which to understand how people’s distinctive social and political identities intersect and overlap, in ways that prepare them for advantages and disadvantages, privilege and discrimination (Krenshaw, 1989). 

We are bounded by the limited rationality of a neoliberal, neo-colonial and late-capitalist society. This clouds our imagination of decolonial futures and emancipatory practises in the present. How do we cut through the buzzword noise and seek genuine and holistic practises of socio-ecological decoloniality?

When it comes to the latter, we must be mindful of who we are speaking with and where we are positioned in the world. Issues of social and environmental justice are experienced very differently, according to where each person is located and what type of experiences (and privileges) they have.

Reference: Crenshaw, K., 2016. The Urgency of Intersectionality. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 July 2021].

Brief description

Established in 2016, Xarkis’ roaming multi-residency programme focuses on socially engaged practice, and encourages artists from diverse disciplinary pathways to become temporary residents of a local context and respond to a given theme whilst collaborating with communities, informed by the site-specific context.

Here, various art practises become democratised, and are open to the public. As such, one of our main goals is to co-create contemporary art with communities, regardless of community members’ previous experience in such forms of art. Our practice shows that the accessibility of art and the drive to speak the local language helps dismantle hierarchies and strengthen social inclusion through exchanging good practices, establishing peer-to-peer support networks and exchanges of mutual benefits to artists and communities. During the residency, different community groups engage in intercultural and cross-cultural dialogue via different art forms.

In turn, by learning how local communities and minorities live, and by adopting anthropological and collaborative methods of research during our initiatives, we believe that we can move towards a more inclusive world, with planetary and social welfare at heart.

Duration and summary of content 

Situated within a contemporary art context, we will explore how forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism manifest themselves in an array of communities and identities, whilst developing critical thinking around ethical considerations, and tackling implicit environmental challenges through an intersectional lens.

Ultimately, the purpose is to contribute towards emerging discourses in socially engaged practice, through site-specific, practice-based research and experimentation.

All artists from the cohort are invited to take part in a ten-day multi-residency programme, with workshops, mentorship sessions with selected co-curators and residency coordinators, and collaborative peer-to-peer feedback sessions by artists, curators and coordinators. The latter entails artists and partners from transdisciplinary backgrounds interacting and feeding off of each others’ know-how and skills. These ‘spaces for conversations’ will be roaming, and will combine both structured and anarchic moments, culminating in the experiential Festival.


This year, Xarkis Festival will also host nine additional artists from the EU project CONTESTED DESIRES, where challenges and taboos will be discussed in relation to our colonial legacies. Read more about the project and the artists involved here:


Practitioners from any of the following backgrounds (and not only) are encouraged to apply:

  • Visual arts (socially engaged art, digital arts, painting, drawing, mixed-media, photography, film, video art, visual anthropology, sculpture, installation, scenography, craft-making etc)
  • Design (social design, service design, design activism, co-design, graphic/communication design, product/industrial design, architecture, sustainable design, innovation design, motion design, interactive design, animation, communication design)
  • Music (performance, composition, sound art)
  • Performing arts (performance art, theatre, dance etc)
  • Writing practises (academic, creative, unstructured, journalistic)


Please note that a limited number of residencies are available. Priority will be given to applicants with experience in community-oriented, socially engaged and ecologically conscious practices. Proposed initiatives that will be prepared and shared during the Residency days with final outcomes during the Festival, can take the form of:

  • Workshops
  • Hands-on activities
  • Educational initiatives
  • Music/sound performance
  • Interactive sound installation
  • Installation
  • Campaign
  • Interventions
  • Performance art
  • Visual art
  • Experiential dance performance
  • Video art
  • Film
  • Exhibition
  • A (digital) zine 


We strongly encourage participants to accompany the realisation of their proposed initiatives with short talks and/or lectures with Q&A sessions addressed towards diverse publics.

Individuals and teams are encouraged to apply.

You are also welcome to apply with a transdisciplinary project. In this case, you are called to specify which disciplines come together through your piece of work.

Creative practitioners from any of the above disciplines are encouraged to participate with proposals and marry practices with other sectors, encouraging new alliances. Our approach involves the application of our organisation’s matchmaking mechanism, which nurtures collaborations between creative practitioners, educators and citizens from diverse educational, disciplinary, professional, generational and ethnic backgrounds.

We ask for interested participants to apply via our online portal and write in English, in a style that is suitable for a general audience:

  • The title of your proposed participation
  • Name &  surname
  • Email address
  • Contact number
  • Title of your proposed project
  • A brief biography (150 words max)
  • What is the issue you are wanting to address? (50 words max)
  • Describe its relevance to the theme of this year’s call (100 words max)
  • Who is involved in / affected by the issue locally? (50 words max)
  • What is the proposed solution/opportunity? (100 words max)
  • A synopsis of the proposed initiative (150 words max)
  • An explanation of your proposed method/approach (max 150 words)
  • In what ways do you propose to disseminate the work before, during and after the Festival? (max 100 words)
  • Links to your website and / portfolio
  • An explanation of how you intend to use the Festival days as a way to realise the project (max 150 words)
  • A proposal on how you will engage and collaborate with communities during the residency and during the Festival (max 150 words)
  • 30-word synopsis and 30-word bio for promotion and dissemination on social media (up to 60 words)
  • A profile picture and an image for the initiative for social media (max 1Mb)
  • Describe what type of technical support you will need, in terms of tools, equipment etc (max 150 words)
  • and 3-4 related examples from your work/work in progress (in JPEG, and/audio formats wherever applicable) with captions (max 1 Mb)


Please include a subject line as follows: 

Your Full Name_Surname_Discipline_Type of activity

I.e. Marion_Sky_Music_Workshop or Joe_Bouvoir_Design_Installation etc 

Key dates 

  • Deadline to apply: 25th of April 2022
  • Starting day of Residency & Introduction: July 4th 2022
  • End date of Residency: 14th of July 2022
  • Xarkis Festival: 15 – 17th of July 2022


Shortlisted residents may be called to engage in an interview. Residents will be called to participate in group meetings and share work-in-progress with coordinators and the team of Xarkis for the entire duration of the Residency.

There will be a possibility to travel to the urban cityscape in Nicosia, Cyprus for a day, with a guided tour from a member of Xarkis team.

Additionally, artists are called to join a series of workshops and talks by selected experts during the residency week.

What we offer

  • A stipend of 400 euros for your participation 
  • Residency support during group meetings and feedback sessions
  • Documentation 
  • Social media visibility
  • Accommodation in a shared/communal space
  • Three meals per day from our collective kitchen


Digital outputs  

Beyond the Festival, to be taking place as a result of the Multi-Residency programme in a physical form, we propose the co-creation of a combination of hybrid online events. These include work-in-progress shows, artists’ talks, webinars, performances etc, to broadcast some of the experiments, processes and outputs in a digital space. This could take place before, during and after the Multi-residency and exhibition experience, to extend the physical outputs, leading to a digital exhibition space to connect the artists and further disseminate the project and continue the conversations between artists and participants.

The digital output will allow participants to exchange know-how and experiment, whilst adapting to current challenges posed by crises, through the development of new skills and capacity building (i.e. in digital exhibition setups, online curation, scrolly-telling etc). 

Xarkis Inclusion Policy

As Xarkis, we invite artists from different backgrounds, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and age to apply. We particularly encourage applications from people from a variety of backgrounds who are not equally represented in the public debate such as women, LGBTQIA + people, people with disabilities and people from different national backgrounds.