Why this story matters:
-- by Rosie Charalambous, November 2017
An unusual object has appeared in Nicosia, Cyprus, in the UN-controlled buffer zone of conflict which separates the island’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. It is an interactive installation that is part of a project designed by the Artos Foundation called ‘Does Europe Exist?’
Suspended from an intricately carved piece of oak, it is a bell created by sculptor Marcus Vergette who thinks that art should be in tune with nature -- and also serve a social purpose. He hopes it will empower Cypriot citizens, and bring a different, accessible and secular tone to the divided island, "to give a voice to people who don’t always have one".
He purposely endowed the bell with three different tones, in no way associated with what he calls the "acoustic war" between the peal of church bells in the Greek Orthodox south of the island and the calls to prayer from mosques in the Muslim north. Anybody is free to ring the bell and Vergette hopes they will feel empowered to do so. "It’s a way of communicating," he says,"it has no specific authority and makes no statement other than that everybody and anybody can ring it -- nobody owns it."
Details from the story:
- Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the northern third of the island in 1974.
- Over 40 years of reunification talks have ended in stalemate, the latest collapse being in July 2017.
- The bell sits between the UN headquarters at the former Ledra Palace Hotel and the Home for Cooperation which is a meeting place for Greek and Turkish Cypriots and host to many bi-communal events.
**This article was written as part of a NewsMavens collaboration with exceptional freelance women journalists in Europe. Rosie Charalambous is a journalist and veteran broadcaster with strong ties to Cyprus. She is also the founder of Cans for Kids, Cyprus's leading environmental charity.**