Camouflage in Cyprus has a totalising value; it does not give way to different uses or interpretations. Militarization is a sterile concept that revolves around the suppression of individuality and creativity, diminishing the soldiers to mere pawns, not leaving much space for questioning the commands. The action of up-cycling the fabrics of uniforms, not only raises questions about the true values of camouflage in everyday society, but it also evokes a democratic dialogue regarding the strong military presence on the island of Cyprus.
In Cyprus, the military is both a divisive and unifying characteristic in both communities, as it is an experience that both youth groups (are forced to) have access to. Camo is automatically linked here to military division, the compulsory military service and the assimilation of one’s personality and lack of personal identity. This lack of identity is present within the minds of all Cypriots, due to the nationalistic propaganda present on both sides of the buffer zone.
The Motivwv1.1 workshop aims to create a cluster of identities, a mixture of out-of-context patterns that visibly resemble each other, yet belong to different military forces with opposing mind-sets and agendas. Before the exhibition, several workshops were organized, with the aim of letting each participant customize and personalize their pieces with their individual touch, reflecting their own stories and experiences regarding their military service. The fabrics were thoroughly examined, manipulated, shredded, painted, dyed, stitched back together, embroidered with slogans and iconographic statements, and merged with other items of clothing that fit the street-wear aesthetic.
The wide variety of camouflage patterns from all over Cyprus, including the UN, British Forces and hunting gear, allows us to create both intricate and simplistic items that outline the multitude of uses and identities camo inhabits, along with the clarity and function that these “foreign” items have to offer.
The workshop is mainly based in Nicosia, where we announced designated fabric collection points and studios where the workshops took place. The workshop leader was George Kyrou.