`The colour of truth…`
Tel: 00 357 99 966518
00 90 542 853 8436
If others have committed crimes - `others` from our `own` country – we are here to do the opposite: To embrace and show that we don't have issues with each other but on the contrary, we understand each other and respect each other.
If Panayiota Hanim or Sherif Hanim had to go through hell in spite of their innocence, we are here to hold their hand and walk with them, showing our respect and love… We have shed our tears for what they have gone through, we have lost sleep over their turmoil and pain and suffering and today we are trying to put in place the humanity that was lost on this land…
Panayiota, the woman wearing black, walking with the help of her dear and only daughter Christina, the woman who demonstrated at the checkpoints for so many years, searching for information about her `missing` husband and her `missing` son is here today with us… She has come all the way from Limassol, from her tiny refugee house in Agios Athanasios to Nicosia, crossing the `border` to open our art exhibition `The Colour of Truth` at the Goethe Institute on the Green Line – the buffer zone where we have gathered to put back in place the humanity that was lost on this land…
Panayiota Pavlou Solomi, the woman who lost her husband Pavlos and her son… The woman who lost her land in Komi Kepir, her two mills – one for the olives and one for the wheat – the woman who lost her house, her fields, her partner for life and the son she gave birth to… Everything might have been stolen from her, everything except her memories and she persists, standing here with us in black, even if she is losing her sight she walks with the help of her dear daughter Christina, a statue of sadness and pain, a statue of how no one can destroy hope and humanity on this land…
Next to her is Sherif Birshen who lost her father and her brother in the most inhuman way you can think of… Her brother Ahmet from Tremetousia had been ill; he had to go to the hospital for treatment from his liver. It was the state hospital, the
Sherif is tall, blond with blue eyes… She stands together with Panayiota to open our art exhibition together.
`All those killed were innocent` she says, `it was not those who committed crimes but the innocent ones who died…`
Her brother and father, both innocent have died in the hands of criminals in a state hospital. Despite this, she does not nurture hatred towards others, she knows and shows the difference: She is here today amongst us, having come all the way from Hamit Mandrez where she lives despite her high blood pressure, has crossed the `border` to the buffer zone to open our exhibition.
The two old women, one Turkish Cypriot, the other Greek Cypriot stand together to address the huge crowd gathered here in the garden of the Goethe Institute and then open our exhibition.
We walk with them to see the works of art – here, in one painting are the shoes Panayiota has been polishing and keeping in a chest – they are the shoes of her `missing` husband and son – in the painting, moss has grown inside the chest, showing the passing of years and the endless waiting… In another painting by another artist, Panayiota sits clad in black as always and in front of her is the suitcase she had prepared for her son back in 1974, thinking that in a few days he would be sent back from Galatia where he had been kept and the military commander had promised her that `in a few days I will send you back your husband and son`… So she had put in that suitcase that she still keeps as it is, his pyjamas, his school pants, his underwear, his shirts, getting it ready so that when he would come, he would just pick this suitcase up and go away, go away to a safer place… The suitcase remains as it is – neither the son, nor the husband could ever come back…
Paintings of artists hung from the walls depicting mass graves from Maratha or Paralimni where the innocent were executed and buried, the innocent Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots who had nothing to do with the conflict but were only trying to make their living and survive on this land… Paintings of artists showing the entrance to a cave in Agios Georgios Alamanos where three innocent Turkish Cypriots were killed or the lake Galatia where eleven innocent Greek Cypriots were buried… Paintings of artists from both sides whom we brought together and worked together for the past eight months, trying to show them how humanity was lost on this land and how we must put it back in place accepting our responsibility for at least expressing that we do not approve of such crimes, no matter by whom they have been committed.
`The colour of truth` is painful but at the same time it expresses hope on this land because it is the first time ever in our history that artists from both sides have come together to think together about what has happened on this land and have created their works of art, showing their understanding and empathy and expressing their feelings about `missing persons` and mass graves in this country.
`The colour of truth` will go around the island to try to put in place the humanity that was lost on this land…
Photo: View from "The Color of Truth" art exhibition at the Goethe Institute…
(*) Article published in POLITIS newspaper on the 31st of March, 2013 Sunday.