Sunday, 03 April 2016 11:23

Ancient riches of the Mediterranean

Curator Catherine Louis Nikita with Josef Koudelka Curator Catherine Louis Nikita with Josef Koudelka

The internationally-recognised French-Czech photographer Josef Κoudelka travelled to Cyprus for the opening of ‘Vestiges 1991 – 2016’ at Limassol’s Evagoras Lanitis Centre last month.

The exhibition features 20 large-format, panoramic photos and 37 stand-mounted photos portraying the vestiges of history through his photography of Greek and Roman archaeological sites in the entire Mediterranean region, including Cyprus.

Over 350 guests, ambassadors, diplomats, mayors and the Minister of Culture attended the opening. “Josef is such a unique person,” says Catherine Louis Nikita, the curator of the exhibition. “To meet and work with a man so full of humanity and a witness to our contemporary history is a real honour and a gift in someone’s life.”

25 years in the making

Between 1991 and 2016, Koudelka travelled through all 20 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and to more than 200 Greek and Roman archaeological sites. The Magnum photographer was the first to suggest such a complete representation of archaeological remains, through which he seeks to transform rubble into hope – the different stages of which are presented in this exhibition. Koudelka recently visited Cyprus, photographing archaeological sites and monuments. His pictures of Salamis and The Tombs of the Kings will be part of the exhibition international tour. The images, including around 25 taken at archaeological sites in Cyprus, are being projected onto the Limassol castle’s outside wall at night during weekends for the entire duration of the exhibition.

“A presentation of our common Mediterranean Greco-Roman heritage is a beautiful opportunity for us while the EU is facing a major identity crisis.

“It reminds us to look back at the values of those civilisations that united the different countries of the Mediterranean and influenced the creators of Europe. The two photos of Cyprus that will be included in the exhibition’s world tour can be a tool for Cyprus for a stronger cultural diplomacy. The initiative aims to put Cyprus on the map of major cultural events worldwide,” explains Catherine Louis Nikita.

A lifetime of photography

Josef Koudelka was born in Czechoslovakia. He became a full-time photographer in 1967 and at the beginning of his career, documented the lives of Czechoslovakian Roma and photographed theatrical performances. He is also famous for his photographs of Warsaw Pact troops invading the streets of the Czechoslovakian capital, putting an end to the Prague Spring.

In 1970, he left his country to live in England and later became a French citizen. He has had solo exhibitions around the globe and is one of the most renowned and awarded photographers of the 20th century.

After 20 years of exile, he returned to his country of birth in 1990, following the Velvet Revolution and photographed the most ravaged countryside in Europe. He then began his work on ancient Greek and Roman sites in the Mediterranean region in 1991, the results of which can be seen in this exhibition.

“It is an honour to have one of the legends of 20th-century photography in Limassol and a beautiful chance for people to see so many famous sites from around the world, displayed in such an interesting way and presented in such high quality,” says Vassos Stylianou, founder of Limassol’s 6×6 Centre for Photography.

“I encourage people to come see it. And then come see it again and then again to appreciate it from diffe-rent angles.”

The exhibition is under the Auspices of H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO. It is co-hosted by the Evagoras and Kathleen Lanitis Foundation, the French Institute in Cyprus and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

It is open until April 28, daily except Mondays from 1pm-8pm. For more information call 25342123 or 99486616

Article as published in  The Cyprus Weekly of April 1, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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