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FREE PRISONERS
Memorial honouring the prisoners of the war of 1974

FACTS + CREDITS

Project Team: Christos Chadjichristos, Kyriakos Miltiadou

Stage: Competition / 1st Prize

Place: Nicosia

Year: 2023

This public work of art commemorates the experience of the Greek-Cypriot prisoners of the 1974 Turkish invasion. It is situated in the south side of the buffer zone that divides the island in a north and south part, and very close to the first checkpoint that opened between the two sides. It is actually the very location these prisoners were released after being transferred by buses from the north. The work is composed of two main elements that intersect obliquely: a box and a horizontal steel line.

The box is composed of two sets of human-like vertical elements, one made out of rusted metal and the other of varnished metal. The two sets encounter each other, symbolizing the prisoners and their relatives who came to the location without knowing whether their men were dead or alive. Found between two horizontal planes, both sets seem to be trapped in a new form of prison since the whole population of Cyprus is still hostage to the new and difficult to resolve political situation created by the war. Traversing these parallel vertical metal elements are glass panes which carry snapshots related to the events of imprisonment and release. Being partly transparent, these images are perceived in a layered manner depending on the observer’s position and the time of the visit. The climatic conditions also influence one’s perception creating a variety of potential experiences.

The horizontal steel line on the ground symbolizes the timeline and positions the events commemorated in a historical context, aiming to avoid misleadingly portraying the event as an isolated incident.

Through the reflection of their image on the glass surfaces, but also with the possibility of being between them, the visitors are offered a sense of agency. Flexible and accessible from different perspectives, paths and viewpoints the memorial is opened to a spectrum of different interpretations and criticism.

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