Immigrant Spaces and Pervasive Mapping
Johann Pillai - Sidestreets
Radisson Habiba Hall
Immigrant Spaces and Pervasive Mapping is a project developed by Sidestreets focusing on the concept of community outside state politics and official categories. Established in 2007 in Nicosia, Sidestreets aims to generate space for creative and critical engagement with language, arts and culture through a range of activities, including archiving, arts events and seminars. At the time of March Meeting 2011, it was the only politically independent private arts and culture organisation in north Cyprus.
This project will create an alternative living map/archive of ‘invisible’ spaces of art and culture in the divided city of Nicosia, through the individuals and communities occupying them both historically and presently. The political history of Cyprus has eclipsed artistic and cultural heritage and also people’s connection to spaces that carry cultural traces of civilizations—Persian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, European—as well as the current lives of immigrants whose identities range from Armenians to Kurds to Arabic-speaking Turks. The project involves historical research, personal interviews/digital storytelling, web archiving, publications, and also the use of pervasive media technology to set up publicly accessible nodes of interaction around the city, to foreground the invisible city.
Johann Pillai is an independent scholar and Director of Sidestreets, an independent arts organisation in Cyprus. He received a BA in Comparative Literature, Yale (1987) and a PhD from State University of New York, Buffalo (1991). He has taught in the United States (SUNY, Central Connecticut), in Turkey (Bilkent, Middle East Technical University) and in Cyprus (Eastern Mediterranean University) and has held positions including Department Chair and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Courses taught include art history, semiotics, aesthetic and literary theory, world civilizations, and the political history of Cyprus. He has written several publications on European Romanticism, British Modernism, and Cypriot and Turkish art, including a new book on Bedri Rahmi – The Lost Mosaic Wall.