A kind of a "dangerous supplement", marked, scarred on a body, post-orgasmically, always, already in anticipation of (a) crisis OR for a desert avec 'agape'. Mindb(l)ogg(l)ing Noise. "Avalanche, would you share my last pursuit?" (Baudelaire)

Saturday, April 12, 2008


In the great manner of talking about architecture through its representations, the above representation of a mirroring, as found on youtube, carries on talking about architecture's representations. Following the Improv Everywhere's initial Grand Central partial and hoaxical halting of traffic and the subsequent extended celebrations of slowness, Freeze at Ledras brought together a few tenths of people who had "synchronise[d] their watches in a co-ordination meeting beforehand" and "at exactly the same time ... [did] freeze for 5 minutes". The Freeze at Ledras' aimed residue, as stated on the dedicated facebook event wall, was to initiate a "silent commentary" on the perceived "frozen" state of the 70 or so meters of Ledra street recently opened to civilian traffic. Yet as stated in the video documentation, it claims to be an a-political act (gesture, tactic, event - choose your terminology), while at the same time being "a celebration of the newfound mobility in this particular space and a hope for a greater mobility in the future."

The reference to "silent commentary" can only be seen as an endearing to its authors word-play. Since nothing can be more naive to uncritically locate the body outside the deafening, over-determining hubbub of urban configurations, such as the street, and claim it to be 'silent'. The extremely well defined postures of the freeze participants are anything but silent, in absentia murmurs; they are loud and clear utterances, cries, screams, short-circuiting the conventional structures of communication exchange and of economistic, self-centered circulation. Utopic, momentary and problematic in their relation at least to perceptions of time, but anything but silent. The uncritical engagement of the Ledras' freeze with itself however does not stop at the mere wording of its aims. In both text and video the inability to critically survey the frameworks of event this 70m of geography is evident. No one can argue with the re-newed understanding of the concept and practise of mobilty within and through Ledras street. Nor can hopes for differencing the perception and re-presentation of Nicosia, Ledras or the 'Cyprus Problem' be overlooked. But only a disengaged observer, one locked within dogmatic socio-centric readings of the city can describe the so-called 'dead zone's' state pre-3 April 2008 as frozen. Contraband, civilian and military verbal and scopic exchange, fly-tipping, tourist excursions, UN drive-by administration, the aura of materials and buildings, non-anthropomorphic life, grid and sewage sevices - all these are eliminated from Freeze in Ledras' understanding of Ledras - which in turn is the act's reason d' etre - for the sake probably of a belonging to a movement, albeit of 'freeze-frame'.

What really though sends shivers down one's spine is the stated negation of politics within the contexts of commenting urban space is also telling of the perceived representations and receptions of the city of Nicosia. Nicosia: the non-polis. The greek term for it - Chora - echoes of receptacles after all, welcoming receptacles of foundational conceptions, of mythical pre-linguistic positions, where manifestations are nurtured but which as a space is resistant to its reduction to any such manifestations' appropriations. The tradition of immigrant songs across the globe - from Irish ballads about London to 1930's post-rembetika structures of Athenian civic engagement and pride and from Kazantzides to the No Wave New York sound - stand as proof to this awareness re the traces of the city as both, and at once nurturing and alienating. The spatial term chora also denotes the area surrounding a polis: the bucolic countryside, the sub-urban. What is not civic, not part of the city. When it comes to especially Nicosia's walled city, this is the chora that seems to underscore its readings and shape its representations. Its imagined biography, as time goes by, is one of romanticised nature-prone facades, stone(d) remains, Berlinesque futures -where cultural capital will pave the way for economic regeneration - and sexual deviance of ever-changing origins, reflecting a mirroring of desires and apprehensions, external positions, rather than a participatory if fleeting grasping of the plethora of Nicosia's particulars.

Freeze at Ledras even though it might have wanted to bring at a productive crisis Nicosia's understanding of Nicosia, has stayed stale and stalled in its mirroring of the dominant symbolic a -political discourses surrounding the city of Nicosia. Devoid of the humorous context of other freeze acts, which together with the reconfiguration of the modalities (or agencies) of individuation appears to be Improv Evrywhere's motive and objective, Freeze at Ledras thus remained another mundane reproduction of an essentially cultural act, akin to a vast proportion of the Cypriot cultural production, unable to critically contextualise and comprehend its methods and output in relation not only to its immediate environments but also towards its international outlook and responsibilities. As such it might have been more productive for the desired debate on the pasts and futures of Nicosia via Ledras street, if its muted attempts to 'silently' comment on political matters were to remain for ever silent.


Anonymous said...

i thought you were bound to be more positive to such artsy farts

Demetris said...

No wind can be of service to who is bound to nowhere in particular.

Anonymous said...

which means?
nobody can be free floating, neither the actor nor the critic. but winds are already blowing in Cyprus, don't you think?

Demetris said...

Which means I am no Prometheus to be bound to anything but probaly an Epicurian understanding of possibilities as abstract and thus not of and for themselves, with necessary ends on either sides, via a non-apologetic criticality (mostly) rather than reified empirical knowledge (although it happens).

No one is disputing the currents here - even if the post-Scorpions' Aeolian amnesia is accountable for a lot. But when have we ever stopped being amidst whirlwinds - in Cyprus or elsewhere? If anything it's water we are lacking; not air. Or its (water's) responsible, management if you will.

Anonymous said...

we are also lacking peace and the long process of its achievement is something that we are bound to. the question is whether apolitical masterbations such as "freeze Ledras" can be of any use in the process. the reproduction of a "fake" (well put) silence is clearly what we do not need. it is loud voices that we need. and on this my friend, from what i remeber and despite your current academic interests, you can contribute...

Demetris said...

So we know each other - as if we would not.

Trust me the loud voice you remember has been further nurtured by, and not despite, current and past academic interests. If anything it is what (and probably how) is uttered above.

But, tell me, which one is your voice? Help me remember, too.

Anonymous said...

my voice at the event was textual. a placart saying "no barricades" and a bit of dance and joy at the north side of Ledras along with an ethnically mixed crowd

Χριστος Χ. said...

Fierce as it may be, Demetris' criticism of the "a-political" couldn't have been more pervasive and sharp. To determine an act as "a-political" leaves the act....nowhere. How deceiving is this? Acontextual, a-topical, outside the city? And how can anyone (e.g.like Demetris) who is a conscious and conscientious member of the polis, participate to an "a-political act"? One can only participate without membership, critically, by pointing out the unacknowledged political ramifications. One must point to this inconsistency and ask for clarifications, political acknowledgments. These questions that Demetris poses are unavoidable. Besides, recent history has taught us to be terrified by that which appears as a-political. Because, the a-political has triumphantly proven itself to be (historically),knowingly or not, willingly or not, an allibi for political irresponsibility. Demetris' voice is already strong, and already participating, albeit his membership is -yet- impossible.

(This, being my personal awareness, supplied by my own ear)

Χριστος Χ. said...

Demetris: Question: "Chora" was also used by Plato (I don't know if your usage related to that). Plato uses it to denote the "topos" which "produces" the Forms etc (Derrida makes an excellent deconstructive analysis on this). Do you know if at the time of Plato it was used the way you described it, i.e. denoting the area surrounding the city???

alexandra said...

surely what the young man meant in the video by apolitical (correctly, or incorrectly) was that the freeze was not affiliated with a political party...


Χριστος Χ. said...

What makes you so sure?

In any case, one can criticize the political content of Silence, the thetic silencing, the method of silencing. Is this what the new "wind" that is now blowing brought with it? Silence?

Even if one does not belong to a particular political party, why choose a silent comment? Isn't it alarmingly close to "silencing"? Weren't there any alternative comments, more articulate?

Let's bear in mind that once you choose silence, then you run the risk of having critics (mis)interpreting it in any way they want (for example, me? Demetris?). And then, you have the exigency of having the actor, who had initially chosen silence, to return and speak about it. Speech is unavoidable.

Silence is risky. Especially when it is misdiagnosed to have existed to that space when, in fact, the silence has been a forced silence, a violent silence. There are many kinds of silences (why assume that silence is One). In this case, silence has not been a mere absence of dicsourse. It has been a presence of violence which never stopped. An abuse. A silent act merely lets the other silence, the violent one, be. Violent silence cannot be overcome by silence.

Demetris said...

@Xristos: Having, like most, arrived at Chora through post-structuralist feminism, not least Derrida's, it is through it that its geographical milieu is re-recognised, as what surrounds, what is outside, the (ostensibly male) polis. The gendering is there in Plato's Timaeus too, however. Yet again it looks like it is irreducible just to such a form: the urban-ite centers of the polis' colonies are, still, called Chora, so...
There is also the word kariye, tickling my bucolic beard (all the way to India) but away from books and most importantly dictionaries (yes, yes I could have done an online search bur I know my earmarks await), allow such an answer, until I am back, at least nearer to spaces of delineation, still envious of your laconic acuteness.

As for the silence, for now I remain silent, not risking its (mis)interpretation vis-a-vis such icy appropriations. It will suffice to read for example Sophocle's Antigone. More than Once.

@alexandra: Everything begins with citation, that is reproduction:

Ο όρος "α-πολιτικό" δεν ταιριάζει αυστηρά, έχεις δίκαιο, αλλά η πρόθεση πίσω από τον όρο είναι βάσιμη:

Υπάρχει σημαντική διαφορά ανάμεσα στο πολιτικοποιημένο και σε κάτι που συμβαίνει μέσα σε πολιτικό περιεχόμενο.

Η δική μας δράση έγινε παράλληλα με ένα ευρύτερο κοινωνικό συμβάν, που δεν μπορεί ΠΑΡΑ να είναι το πλέον πολιτικό(ποιημένο;), και ήταν άμεσα συνδεδεμένο μαζί του, αλλά δεν ήταν δράση πολιτικής.

The above mentioned young man, on facebook.

And I did not even touch on their stated aversion to provocation (in greek the word used was, as witnessed on the above wall, διαμαρτυρια). Now if you can participate, live in a city and not stand witness to, testify, your politicisation (party or other mind you), well here is an amnesiac act worthy of writing.

alexandra said...

christo ch, you are right, I shouldn't be so sure. I was merely questioning your own and/or demetri's sure-ness. The word apolitical, in Cyprus (and in every country/town/space), is always reverberating against the understanding of the word 'politics' in Cyprus, which could easily be seen as the equivalent of government for example, or bicommunality, or nationalism or... or... so I don't see why a-political could not simply mean non-governmental etc.

The truth is, I simply do not know what the YM (young man) meant by 'apolitical' and I am averse to saying that he meant 'x'. Just as I am averse to believing that he honestly thought out the etymology of the word 'diamartiria' when he wrote the word down on a facebook wall.

Arguing semantics is dangerously close to assumption. It's a safer game to play when you're reading a novelist or a philosopher who has written out her book 350 times and is conscious of every comma and every reference.

However, moving onwards to the point about silence, allow me to play the devil's advocate, for the sake of discussion, since it is an interesting discussion (demetri, are you virtually available? or in glasgow?).

Would this have been different if while the participants 'froze' they turned on a boombox that played music?

I understand that the problem we are all grappling with here is one of 'silence' but I don't necessarily see it as censorship, or a muting.

What if the event was called "A Harold Pinter Pause at Ledras"? Or, "A Beckettian Silence at Ledras"?
For me, at least, that would suggest a freeze that is creative, that makes drama, that transforms a situation, that actually moves something foreward.

Because it's not just silence that took place in Ledras (if anything, there is no silence around the silent actors) but immobility.

And *is* it risky to choose the method of freezing since people can (mis-)interpret the act? The freeze brought forth discourse. Here. As said, speech is unavoidable.

Χριστος Χ. said...

So we are here trying to discern the meaning of the gestures.

The context (i.e. Ledras opening, the Cyprus problem etc) is extremely serious. It's a matter of life and death isn't it? It is related to war isn't it?

Therefore, I don't think that a close and conscientious semantical analysis of every act that pertains to this issue is excessive: on the contrary, it is a matter of duty. For me at least.

When one chooses to act (in any way) right at the epicenter of political turmoil, one is bound to undergo scrutiny: semantical scrutiny. We have to ask for more information, we have to unfold the matter, decipher and expose the intentions.

Alexandra, you say: the word a-political in Cyprus could mean this or that (and you ennumerate an array of possible meanings). So I ask: what was the meaning in that context? Define the "political" that is being negated. Define that "political" which you (they) choose to avoid and silence.

If we don't start with semantics, what can we start with then?

We had, on one hand, the linguistic part of the gesture and on the other hand the accompanying Silent part. The only way we could have started was with the wording that preceded the silence. Weren't these words an Introduction, a Commentary, for the Silence that followed? Wasn't there a meaning ascribed to this Silence? The question then is: What did this Silence mean?And thus we turn to the linguistic part.

One clue we had was that it was a negation of politics. Question: of what Politics? Every negation has a latent affirmation. What is being affirmed then?

Perhaps the answer is: Politics qua provocation (?). So this was an act against political provocation? Hence, an affirmation of political peace(?) That's one semantic thread we can follow.

Another thread: Politics qua immobility? The group re-presented (staged) the historical immobility and silence of that street, in a critical manner? As if to indicate that this immobility was wrong and we affirm the mobility that has been achieved? An affirmation of political mobility then(?).

Both of these threads are noble.

But then another question arises: Was there really silence and immobility all these years, or is this a misdiagnose, or a partial diagnose (a dogmatic socio-centric reading, as Demetris put it)? What is being excluded from our awareness? What is being suppressed? The violence that was always there, right? Then another question is: Why is it excluded? And then: Where will this exclusion take us?

Is the general meaning of this act then: Ignore the violence? Or: overcome violence through pacifism? (Which of course are "very political" meanings).

"Would this have been different if while the participants 'froze' they turned on a boombox that played music?" Yes, I think it would have been very different. The discussion would have been different. I would ask: what kind of music did they play? Were they dancing? Etc...

The fact that Demetris asked for linguistic self-consciousness and subtlety is also a noble one, no?

Demetris: I am not well-read in feminist philosophy. I am not aware of feminist analyses on Chora...

Demetris said...

Virtually available, briefly, again:

Christo I was referring to Kristeva, mainly (and after her to Margaroni of UCy too). Start from the beginning: Revolution in Poetic Language and Desire In Language.

Alexandra, where indeed does one start from if not from a semantic conjecture and a desire for critical cultural contextualisation of critical cultural gestures (linguistic or otherwise)? Thus from assumptions - never claimed to be sure and if anything opened up to dialogue.
As for the desired meaning of YM's apolitical - in the vain of the assumption - it is assumed that having read the quote (again not as an essentialist position of the YM but as an utterance within the context of the freeze event) the apolitical was not equalled to non-governmental but to not political in the broader sense of participatory engagement (see above). Such an apolitical modality is the status quo's politisisation per se, which would have liked such an act to not claim politics for its own sake (not that it could re its understanding of the polis it took place and which gave it its reason d' etre) in order to not disturb (provoke) the 'necessary social preparations' underway (see government spokesman's recent statement)

As for the act's differences if a different act was chosen to be enacted, well of course that would make a difference. But as above, my conjectural remarks, criticism, is not abstract but derived from utterances and enunciations and follow-ups and prologues to freeze in ledras. If they wanted to do Homecoming at Ledras they should have let us know somehow, shouldn't they?

Over for now - apologies - I can't go on, I will go on, later.

Μάγος said...

You are making things unnecessarily complicated and it is surprising nobody else has said so. To me things seem much more simple.
1 A group of artistic type people in Cyprus found out about the freeze events in New York etc. They thought they were cool and would like to do it too.
2 They decided to do the exact same thing in Cyprus and used the opening of Ledras as their venue.
3 They then came up with a justification (all the stupidity about the frozen buffer zone unfreezing) so as to put on the appearance, both to themselves and to others, of in-depth engagement with society and current affairs.
4 Of course fixating on the 70m of the buffer zone as opposed to the people and the history of the divide is already evidence of a retreat into 'things' over 'people' and of 'representation' over 'reality'.
5 The group further makes clear its lack of awareness by emphasizing that it is not political and not provocatory (therefore placing themselves firmly within the framework of the status quo)
6 The participants leave under the illusion that they have actually contributed something, probably feeling like they are some kind of open-minded vanguard, but are in fact even more cut-off than ever from the realities of the problem (the absence of communication between people in everyday life, the internalisation of propaganda, the military, the state and the recent changes in government policy, the effects of capital, etc).
7 Demetris you need to become able to write critically without bringing in irrevelent academic talk which clouds the issue rather than clarifies it.

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Χριστος Χ. said...

Magos: I don't take it that we are MAKING things unnecessarily complicated. I take it that we are picking up on the details that are already there should one decide to attend to them. I would pose it as a matter of style and general disposition/methodology.

Besides, on your logic I could argue that you are reducing and oversimplifying things, no?

(In any case, one critical point I would definitely accept is that the conversation is too elitist and excludes many people from the discussion beforehand. This is true).

But beyond the above comment, I find your critical description insightful and generally compatible with my perspective on things...

Χριστος Χ. said...

I meant: Points 4,5 & 6 I find insightful and in agreement with my criticism. The rest, I think they are too speculative as per the group's psychology and intentions...

the Idiot Mouflon said...

All criticism aside, it was very nice of them to accomodate aspiring photographers, no?

Anonymous said...

as per? albeit?
come on guys, katsete ti mappa hame

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