DR YIANNIS TOUMAZIS
Uncertain Futures, Partitioned Times:
Sustainable Art & Design Practices Against Segregation and Towards Inclusion.
The pandemic, as well as the tragedies currently happening in many severely contested parts of the globe, strongly expose the partitioned times we live in. Social discrimination and urban segregation are a common denominator in most countries and cities. New communities, people of different social backgrounds, religions, beliefs and ethnicities are feared and demonised. The continued exclusion and detachment of these various communities have denied opportunities for the development of mutual trust and tolerance and has given fertile ground to extreme nationalism to rise across the globe. In turn, inequalities and corruption, oppression and exploitation, racism and xenophobia are unfortunately still part of contemporary discourses and reality.
This presentation examines the transformational role of culture in general, and art and design in particular, and how they can influence these negative developments. It also investigates how a new social reality could be established through the arts and creative thinking and practice, honouring and giving priority to the innate human capacity for creation. It also accentuates the role of Performance Design in shaping this new society through its multidisciplinary approach, its holistic ability to propose new visual approaches, its ability to propose novel, aesthetically challenging and sustainable milieus.
It also suggests new models to engage the public in the creative process and transform the segregated civic space into an imaginative incubator, where each and every one can enjoy an equal share of a brighter future where conflict, hostility and aggressiveness will give way to co-creation inclusivity and enjoyment.
Through a number of case-studies, the presentation further explores how these ideas could function against polarization and towards an urban transformation, as well as a tool of reunification and reconciliation instead of intolerance and nationalism, as has been the case until today. The case-studies also examine the sustainability of art practices through new and creative business models.
Yiannis Toumazis studied Civil Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, Theatre Design at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, in The Netherlands, and Theory of Art and Aesthetics at the University of Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France, where he received his PhD on Marcel Duchamp.
Since 1994, he has been the Director and Chief Curator of NiMAC [The Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, Associated with the Pierides Foundation]. He is also the Director of the Pierides Foundation, one of the oldest private cultural institutions in Cyprus. He has designed, organised and curated several international contemporary art exhibitions. In 2011, he was the curator of the Cyprus Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy.
He has also extensively designed for the Theatre in the Netherlands, Cyprus and Greece. He has been actively involved in Museum Design, including the award-winning THALASSA Municipal Museum in Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
He joined Frederick University, Cyprus, in 2009 and he is currently Professor in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, teaching Aesthetics, History of Art and History of Design. His research focuses on the current developments in modern and contemporary art both in Cyprus and in the international art scene. Since 2018, he is the coordinator of the doctoral programme “PhD in Applied Arts”.
Between 2014 and 2019 he was Chairman of the board of the State Theatre of Cyprus (THOC). In May 2015, he was appointed Vice-Chair of the Bi-communal Technical Committee for Culture, which aims to bring together the two main communities of Cyprus through Culture. In 2011, he was named Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Republic for his contribution to culture. In 2020, he joined the jury for the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. In the same year, he was unanimously elected Corresponding Member of the Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts. In 2016, he initiated the Famagusta New Museum, a physical space and an active platform, which, through a variety of programmes and activities, seeks to propose an alternative restart of the ghost city of Famagusta (Varosha), a re-enactment and an activation in the social, cultural and political fields.