"Volant migrants" By Maria Loizidou
TEXT: PIERIS PANAGI
PHOTOGRAPHY: N. KARATZAS AND S. STRATIS
What is the value of an exhibition in public places?
First of all, I appreciate the fact that an exhibition in a public place does not speak to all artists as a concept. A prerequisite for this is a genuine interest in public affairs. At the same time, when exhibiting in a public space, you need to be concerned with who uses it, how light travels through it, as well as what the history behind it is. The biggest difference between an exhibit in a gallery and one in a museum is that, in a public space, the passer-by will see it in front of them, all of a sudden. Encountering it won’t be a matter of choice.
How did the name, “Volant Μigrants”, come about?
First, l need to mention that this piece is both a part of the remarkable art collection of Hermes Airports and of their highly interesting project called “Sense of Place”. The piece of art hovers above our heads and depicts the migratory birds of Cyprus. Thus, on 4 surfaces, one can see the birds of the four seasons. We have, among others, swallows in spring, the wonderful flamingos in winter, the robins in autumn, and hoopoes in summer. At the same time, each season has a main feature. For example, summer has its cobs, winter has the water of the salt lake, and so on. So, whenever anyone looks at it, they will say farewell to Cyprus with a vision of something supremely Cypriot. It is essentially a composition. In fact, it is the first time in my career that I worked as a painter in the sense that so many different elements had to be tied in together. The basis for the project is a material that I know how to use all too well – a very thin, stainless steel wire produced for me by my partners in France, so that it can be woven by hand. This is a traditional-Cypriot technique, but at the same time it is connected with all the traditional knitting techniques common around the world. It’s something that instantly connects people. So, whoever sees it, whether they are French, English, or Portuguese, will definitely feel a sense of familiarity.
What was it like working on a project of this magnitude during the lockdown?
Being forced to be limited is an extremely difficult situation for everyone, and a lockdown is extremely prohibitive when it comes to producing work. Nevertheless, I was fortunate enough that Hermes Airports gave us the green light in January. Having something to work on was a blessing for me and my co-workers. A great deal of preparation took place before and so that we had a solid, general idea of the project, and
we communicated for clarifications and details. The process was somewhat lonely at first, but I was sure that it would attract a lot of attention along the way.
During the lockdown, what is it that you missed the most?
Human contact and traveling, though I traveled to Paris in March to place an order for the project materials. I visited all the exhibitions I had my heart set on and recharged my batteries. Still, it was a long time to go without the excitement of traveling.
Where do you want to travel to?
I absolutely need Paris, and I miss it. Athens is another place I travel to often. It is home to a large part of my professional family, with close friends who fuel the development of my work. I generally prefer to return to
countries I know and Ι am familiar with. Mainly to places where I usually go. You know, I’m not an exotic traveler or a proper tourist. Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled to countries that didn’t involve my work.
Tell me one last thing. When someone looks at your work, what kind of emotions would you like them to feel?
My first concern is that they don’t find them upsetting. I would like them to take a deep breath. The feeling of admiration is not my goal. Being moved is what I am after.
As far as I’m concerned, being admired for my skill or having someone recognize how much effort was required, would be a failure. Describing the alchemy of one of my pieces is of no interest to me. One can not see how something is made at first glance, therefore I want them to work discreetly, be as familiar as a tree - as if they were always there. How the simple sight of a cloud can be so moving... Exactly like that!
The total area covered by the project exceeds 100 square metres.
More than 316,800 metres of stainless steel wire were used.
25 people from Cyprus and France worked on the project.
It took more than 8,150 man-hours to complete.
The project “Volant Migrants” is located in Larnaka Airport after the Baggage Check Area, and is part of the wider project called “Sense of Place”. This is an initiative by Hermes Airports that aims to enrich Larnaka and Pafos Airports with artwork that awakens the senses and emotions of passengers, highlighting Cypriot culture and tradition.