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Paradise Revisited

Preparing for the Famagusta New Museum Festival Day

paradise lost, inal bilsel, nostalgia

I have been invited to take part in a festival organised by Famagusta New Museum (FNM), a platform that seeks to propose ‘a total restart’ of the ghost city of Varosha. As someone who spent his formative years literally next to the intimidating barbed wires of the Varosha border, I am deeply passionate about this cause. Their motto  “I Understand and Forgive the Past, I Love and Generate the Future”, encapsulates my own views in the most eloquent manner. Moreover, FNM challenges the traditional role of museums in contemporary societies, and aims at generating ‘artistic, environmental and social participatory actions and activist interactions amongst the communities.’

I was given the chance to create a geolocated audio tour. Through an app called ECHOES, the audience can wander through my childhood neighbourhood and listen to an aural history. To prepare for this, I revisited my childhood neighbourhood and walked around the streets trying to refresh my memories and to come up with a meaningful walking path. While most things were changed, the barbed wires, deteriorated fences and deteriorated buildings beyond the border all remain as the day I first saw them. It is both an exciting and frightening prospect to re-live your childhood, and this idea is at the core of Paradise Lost, the tapes, Memory Lane and all that.

Towards the end of a day packed with activities, I will also be giving a talk on the production process and narrativity of Paradise Lost, followed by a short musical performance. While I have been teaching, presenting and mentoring for more than a decade, this will be something new for me, and I am very excited. You might be surprised that for someone who wrote a Ph.D. thesis on the topic, this should have been a walk in the park. Nevertheless, I found the preparation challenging, as I strived to keep it engaging, relevant, and focused while keeping the tone non-academic and casual.

I am hoping that there will be something new to discover and ponder for all the audience members, regardless of how familiar they are with my work.

Festival Day: Saturday, 13th of April, 2024.

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