Damianos Zisimou (1994, Nicosia) is a visual artist and researcher based in Rotterdam (NL) and Nicosia(CY). He holds a BFA from the Art Academy in Rome (IT) and a MA in Cultural Sociology from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (NL). His main research interests are centered around the topics of decolonial thinking, museology and archives, while his artistic practice visually explores how the past is documented, classified and interpreted in the present.Exhibitions
I don’t know what am I myself, it is so very difficult to explain, SOUPstantial, Rotterdam, NL (2021), Everything Flows festival, Xarkis foundation, CY (2020), Encounters through art, ethnography and pedagogy, T.A.F gallery, Athens, GR (2019), Aesthetic Migrant, Kat’oikon Foundation, Nicosia, CY (2018) , Contemporanea 2018, Palazzo Ducale, Tagliacozzo, IT (2018), Omaggio ai caduti, Foundation Lac o Lemon, Lecce, IT (2017)Research projects
Encounters developing critical methodologies for research at the intersection between the practices of ethnography, arts, and education. Erasmus + program (2020/21), María Lugones Decolonial School with Walter Mignolo, Rolando Vasquez, Netherlands (2021), Cultural Policy Research for Cyprus’s Handicraft center (2020/21)
Series of paintings/drawings,
Everything begins with a book.
An 18th-century ‘travel’ book by an Italian diplomat and amateur archaeologist. The book narrates the ancient history of Cyprus as understood by the diplomat based on his findings in various -illegal and controversial- excavations around the island.
Yet, what attracted my attention were not the descriptions of the ancient tombs, sculptures, and temples but the anecdotes the writer narrates about the common people of the island. Specifically a story of an old peasant.
This story is the starting point of a journey back to the tombs which the old man once loved so much. A journey where history is re-imagined and re-narrated putting the honest relationship of this man with his past to the centre.
Documents, lists, representations and photographs from the ancient tombs Hadjijorghis once loved so much are revisited by the artist. Re-entering the taken for granted and forgotten, a new visual narrative emerges which challenges the dominant interpretations of history and makes spaces for alternative reasoning.
The work has been exhibited in July 2021 at SOUPstantial, Rotterdam (NL).
Pictures by Michael van der Beijl
Desktop Video Essay,
How much of an encounter is in all actuality a ‘finding one another’?
Encounters are at the heart of every ethnographic project: anthropologists no longer claim to be speaking about the other (define the other in his/her otherness; know the other). The project Anatomy of an Encounter was driven by the idea that we should not take for granted that we already know what ‘encounters’ are. What does ‘meeting’ another person — with a different cultural or disciplinary background — mean? How much of an encounter is in all actuality a ‘finding one another’? How much of ‘being in touch’ is depending on the work of the imagination — fed by assumptions, existing cultural frames, stereotypes, fantasies about the other?
Through written text, video taken from previews fieldwork in Lesvos island, sound effects, and voiceovers the work aims to create a learning space for better understanding the affordances of the medium itself, and pushed the boundaries of how to tell a story within the boundaries of a sequence.
The video essay is available at this link.
The work has been created in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and ArtsCabinet.org.
Video installation, sculpture and drawings,
An abandoned club in a small fishing village in Lesvos Island. An ostentatious building, ancient-looking with its Roman and Greek-influenced architecture, while surrounded by exotic palm trees and cactuses. Named after one of the most important mythological figures of the island - King Makaras! Due to the greek finicail cricis in 2009 the club has been abandoned. Nevertheless, it still largely dominates the local landscape. A sad residue of its old glory and a spooky mark of the pre-financial crisis era when the local community prosperity was at its best. A symbol of exaggeration, abundance, and opulence that has fallen in decay. This installation tries to shed light on the relationship between the abandoned structure, the surrounding landscape and the people of the village. A short video investigates the current moods in the village. A series of drawings examine the architectonical features of the building and a golden-kits bust of king Makara connects the past, the megalomania of the structure, and the present-day decay of the club as a metaphor of the current socio-economical situation in Greece.
The video is available at this link.
The work has been presented in December 2019 at T.A.F gallery, Athens (GR).
Archival research, workshop,
The project examines a participatory Facebook group with photos from the city of Nicosia. The only divided capital of Europe. The Facebook group is one of the few places where both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities come together creating a safe environment to share memories and stories about their city.
The current Facebook page was taken as a case study to explore digital photographic archives, the influence the digital environment has on their perception and how narratives arising from those archives can facilitate reconciliation in conflicted zones.
Through in-depth interviews with the owners of the photographs, the stories behind selected photographs were recorded. The pictures would later decontextualize and create new, fragmented visual narratives adopting users’ comments as their titles. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot photographs were then presented together trying to highlight the similarities between the two communities as they appear in their photographs and narratives.
Installation, performance, publication,
The project explored issues of mobility, aesthetics and accessibility in the European periphery. What does it means to be an artist in a small island? How can artists survive in with minimum institutional and governmental support? What does it means to create art in a divided city?
An artist, a painter and a poet gathered together to explore those issues. They took over the premisses of an art foundation in the heart of Nicosia – just 500m from the buffer zone that divides the city- and they created a space accessible to everyone to foster dialogue and discuss the role of art in the city. The space was open to everyone for a drinks and discussion while it hosted various workshops and events concerning the main topics of the project.
Parallel to the project a special publication was produced. In a time of constant change – of populations migrating and books being abolished – the artist’s book becomes a migrant itself, carrying not luggage, but the aesthetics, ideas and values of the artists while looking for other territories to host them.
The publication contains a poetry collection by poet Sotos Stavrakis, and texts and photographs by Damianos Zisimou, Lia Boyiatzi, Giorgos Labrakos and it was design with the help of Omiros Panayides.
The work has been exhibited in May 2018 at Kat’oikon Foundation, Nicosia (CY).
Series of painings,
A dialogue with the notions of memory, history and identity. It fragments, deconstructs, and recomposes images and faces, stories and memories, on both a personal and collective level. Through the filter of painting, it creates new worlds to explore, new selective narratives about who we are. Everyone has their own way of interpreting a picture. Artworks change form according to the individual looking at them, as does our identity while facing collectivity.
The memories were reconstructed using photographs from personal family archives from people living in Nicosia – both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The painting surface therefore becomes a point where the memory of two conflicted communities is meeting and re-imagined.
The work has been exhibited in May 2018 at Kat’oikon Foundation, Nicosia (CY) and in July 2018 at Palazzo Ducale, Tagliacozzo (IT);