Design tools to foster inter communal dialogue, and activate engagement with folk, vernacular culture, for better coexistence.
We are delighted to share with you two new interdisciplinary projects that bridge together aspects of socially engaged communication design, oral history and storytelling. The projects’ objectives are to collect oral history testimonies from the people of Cyprus and place them in a digital archive and website called “Voicing Stories” and in an anthology of comic book strips called “Craft Stories”. Fuelled by a non-formal education process, the mode of transport is a participatory vehicle that will carry these stories across the island. Significantly, the driving force behind these is to foster inter-communal dialogue and activate engagement with folk, vernacular culture, for better coexistence between communities of Cyprus. At the same time, we hope to incite the public’s interest in the preservation of such testimonies, instigate critical thinking and stimulate creative expression.
Under the expert guidance of educators, academics and practitioners in oral history, creative writing, storytelling, visual communication, socially engaged art, film making and through a pilot program we are curating for Saturdays in March and April at The Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC), participants will develop an understanding of ways that they can connect with local communities through oral history collection.
While there are numerous noteworthy oral history initiatives in Cyprus, we could say that the these two projects’ difference is that knowledge about oral history collection will be gathered by and passed on to the every man as a tool to use, with people of his or her everyday surroundings and using simple recording devices such as smart phones, tablets and / or compact cameras. Simultaneously, and coupled with the right towards education, we challenge the standard means of oral history deliverance, by selecting a diverse range of contemporary media that are both accessible and fresh in their communication language.
Among others, the educators who will facilitate workshops, seminars, and tours include: the NGO GeekOtopos, whereby Andreas Splash Kyriakou will delve into filming and editing for oral history and will give some guidelines in relation to different ways of recording stories through filming, Dr Nicoletta Demetriou who will introduce us to oral history and share insights into the work she has been doing with elderly Greek and Turkish Cypriot fiddlers for the past twelve years. Dr Lucy Avraamidou & Nicoletta Christodoulou, who will lead a webinar on ethics, the law and re-purposing material in oral history collection and will present their own outcomes through their case study on “The Cyprus Oral history & Living Memory Project”, Senior Research consultant Mete Hatay, who will talk about the recent history of Nicosia and explore how Turkish Cypriots are dealing with the past by employing nostalgia. Dr Evi Tselika on the other hand will give a tour within the social housing community of Aglantzia. We will sit at the “kafene”, converse with the local community and engage in experiential learning, while familiarizing ourselves with ways to work with people as a socially engaged practitioner. Moving on to Craft Stories, Tasos Anastasiades will theorize and exchange ideas on current practices in comic book designing, whilst Denis Constantinou will teach and mentor participants on character design & aesthetics. Max Sheridan from WRITE CY on the other hand, will inform us on the areas of creative writing and story crafting and finally, Chris Demetriou will help us transform our stories into a comic book scripts.
Voicing Stories was conceptualized by Xarkis + The Cypriot Puzzle. The current project which is realized by Xarkis team, aims to collect a variety of oral history narratives and create a digital library to showcase these in. Through the genre of video-testimonies, Cypriots of different backgrounds and ethnic origins are encouraged to share their own personal experiences and stories on technology, art, design, crafts, music, community life, neighbourhood and stories on political events, with a focus on the turbulent period in Cyprus, particularly from 1960 onward.
Moving away from selected, guided, written, pictured, popularized and institutionalized narratives, the video-testimony as a genre creates a space in which intimate, personal and local experiences can be voiced across the island. Moreover, it offers a more holistic representation of the people of Cyprus in the context of Cypriot history and culture that will both be shared and preserved in our digital library. The interviews will be conducted by volunteers using their own equipment (smart phones, cameras etc).
Follow “Voicing Stories”:
Our second initiative, entitled “Craft Stories”, aims to record, salvage and disseminate authentic stories in relation to craftsmen’s experiences with endangered crafts of Cyprus, whilst unravelling the voice of young people, through their co-creation of comic strips.
During the educational program and some field visits in different rural areas of Cyprus wherein endangered crafts have been mapped, a selection of participants will be called to document craftsmen’s stories, which are or have been in the past engaged with such crafts, through film and photography. The participants will then reconvene in our workroom at The Educational Centre for Children of the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, to reinterpret their documented stories, experiences interactions, into comic strips. The project will involve the creative input of people from a range of backgrounds, including oral history, visual communication, community storytelling and comic book writing.
Follow “Craft Stories”:
Address for pilot program:
Tempon street, p.c: 1016
Educational Center for Children
of the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre
For more information about Voicing & Craft Stories please contact [email protected] / call us at 97676011.
Read more about “Voicing and Craft Stories”
This initiative is made possible through the Youthopia Small Grants implemented by MAGEM and YOUTH POWER and funded by European Union.
Craft Stories is materialized with the support of the Bank of Cyprus.
Special thanks to The Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre for their kind contribution of space, for the duration of the educational program, Rainbow Agencies LTD for their generous contribution of art materials for “Craft Stories” and the University of Nicosia for their continuous support and sponsorship, as well as the educators and volunteers who are participating in these initiatives.