John Nassari

Future Screens
In-between, The Cyprus Problem, Palestine identity, Digitization


Nassari’s project reflects upon his family’s memory of their ‘home’ in exile. After many years in exile in Britain his family commissioned an artist to make a painting of the village they had left in northern Cyprus. What is so remarkable about this project was the painting was made from their memory. It took 12 months to make and is 14 feet long. Growing up, Nassari often would hear stories of the village and home, which existed along side the huge visual representation. In 2002, Nassari went to the village for the first time and filmed it from the same perspective that his family represented it in their painting. He uses film as he represents not just their memory but his own generational relationship to the stories of homeland – a departure from a homeland that preceded his birth. He describes the experience as an arrival and a return, so strong was his “postmemory” of the village that he felt he had been there before. His exhibition and paper reflects upon memories of home and belonging across generation, and the fragmentary and ambivalent relationship that many second generation refugees have with ‘home’.


John Nassari’s new work explores the relationship between national debates and how they marginalize domestic, social issues. His photographic work concentrates on Cyprus and how the political situation in relation to the divided country and capital dominates other important debates such as women’s rights, gay rights, disability rights and migrant rights. Although the series concentrates on the particular, it is a metaphor for the general and for the way nation states develop agendas which inhibit social issues from being debated.

Nassari is a key actor in his highly mediated depictions - they are staged and crafted scenes but look like captured documentarty moments. The photographs illustrate stereotypical representations of the social issues he is exploring. What is not clear is what role he plays in the images. Sometimes he appears as an observer and sometimes he appears more clearly as a participant. The ambiguous position he plays brings to question Nassari's relationship with these soical issues and his role as an artist, bringing vis-a-vis a question of the authenticicty of the social documentary photograph. Nassari is interested in the strategies available in the construction of representation and the positioning of artist and subject.

3. DIGITISING PALESTINIAN IDENTITY: Technobiographies and the problems of representation

In January 2007 I accepted a freelance curatorial research position at the Palestine Gallery, a new contemporary arts centre in London. The opening exhibition, I, Palestine, will bring together 23 international artists, exploring themes of exile and memory. This presentation discusses issues that have emerged for me as the curator as well as an artist conducting practiced-based research for the gallery. The aim of the practice is to create an oral history archive on Palestinian memory. The formation of the archive is allied to a technological delivery, representing refugee experiences through computerised form. This presentation will discusse the interactive artchive and consider methodological and conceptual issues raised when formulating refugee representations.

//// //// /// //// /// /// //// //// //// /// //// //