Site-specific sound piece composed for "Odas," the main reception room of the house of the dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios (1750 - 1809) in Nicosia. Commissioned by research and curatorial team Re Aphrodite (Chrystalleni Loizidou and Evanthia Tselika) and the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC), as part of the exhibition [At Maroudia's] (Ethnological Museum – House of Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, July 4-December 30, 2012, Nicosia, Cyprus). The exhibition/intervention formed part of the contemporary art program TERRA MEDITERRANEA / IN CRISIS, organized by the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre and the Pierides Foundation under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU. Read more
Concerned with the untold histories of women, or "herstories," [At Maroudias] consisted of a series of subtle, often minimal interventions to the permanent exhibition of the museum, each assigned to a different artist, in an attempt to re-tell the history of the Dragoman Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios and his house from an often inexistent in the official historical record female perspective. The title of the piece refers to a certain type of room in Ottoman era upper-class houses, in this case the main reception room of the House of the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, where the museum is housed. The room is the only one in the 1793 building that has been restored to be suggestive of Ottoman luxury. A lavishly decorated space, it combines stylistic elements from across the board: previously a colonial-style living room, then renovated to an Ottoman aesthetic using contemporary materials, is now a strictly controlled museum space, only to be looked at. In an effort to mirror the room's history, through which these stylistic ruptures were produced, I decided to base my piece on an improvisation, or "taqsim," often regarded as a connection to the spiritual world, but here performed by Andreas Vrahimis on the kabak kemane, a stringed bowed folk instrument with a body made of vegetable marrow, which was purchased at a nearby tourist souvenir shop in Nothern Nicosia. Furthermore, the piece incorporates field recordings that document my interaction with found materials at the site, such as the crackling sounds of the wooden staircases and old doors, and gestures derived from moving large blocks of stones which were once part of the outer walls of the house but now lie at the garden after not been used during the restoration work at the museum. All other field recordings were made in the village of Lefkara. The piece follows a loose structure and is "in tune" with the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, one of the most distinct sounds in the old town of Nicosia.
"Odas" was included in the collection "Sonic Arts 6.0 Cyprus," showcasing selected artists of the sound art and electronic music scene of Cyprus and its diaspora, including work by Microseq, Yannis Kyriakides and Andy Moor, Christos Kyriakoullis, Marcus Papageorgiou and others. Curated by Antonis Antoniou, the collection was released in December, 2012 by Pantheon Cultural Association.
On November 8, 2013 'Odas' was presented at the Royal Dockyard Church in Kent (UK) as part of the Symposium on Acoustic Ecology 2013, organized by The School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent, and endorsed by the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE). For concert program and information about the symposium click here.
"Yiannis Christofides manages to once again bring life to the ancient room. The sound places the audience member in a state of inquiry and anticipation"
Margarita Paraskevaidou, Reference to the Hostess, Phileleftheros, Sunday, August 19, 2012
The “Oda” is the main reception room of the Dragoman’s home, and the only one restored to be suggestive of Ottoman luxury. It is a lavishly decorated space, designed to demonstrate to the guests the elite status of its owner. It combines stylistic elements from across the board: previously a colonial-style living room, then renovated to an Ottoman aesthetic using contemporary materials, and now a strictly controlled museum space, only to be looked at. As the site of formal meetings, conversations, but also leisure activities, and called the “Aspastikon” (the place of kissing one’s guests in greeting), the room must have functioned as an oddly intimate space. Yiannis Christofides’ two-channel audio installation, composed for this room, considers these contradictions. “The large widows that surround the room bring the outside – the light, the air and the sounds of the city – inside. The low positioning of the windows and the raised floor of the room afford privileged views of the courtyard and the rest of the house, rendering the room a unique surveillance point.” Christofides’ intervention takes advantage of the sensual and engaging qualities of sound, to provide an experience of the space that is powerfully transformative.
Re Aphrodite, [at Maroudia's], Terra Mediterranea / In Crisis, exhibition catalogue, NiMAC, 2012, p. 140.
View of the house from the courtyard, as seen on the evening of the opening of [at Maroudia's] exhibition