Postponed Dates on a Disappearing Coast
In the context of Christodoulos Panayiotou’s solo exhibition, Two Days After Forever at the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, a number of activations have emerged. Two performances conceived by Panayiotou, The Parting Discourse and Levant U-Turn, took place during the opening days of the biennale. The former occurred between the stage of Teatro Goldoni and the Cyprus Pavilion on 6 May, while the latter saw participants delve into the Mediterranean on 8 May.
The final act further examines the pavilion’s themes of memory and memorialisation, and the notion of Cyprus as a gateway to the Global South. It will see participants swim across the stretch of the Mediterranean to Alexandria, for a two-day happening entitled Postponed Dates on a Disappearing Coast. Conceived by artist Mahmoud Khaled, this awakening seeks to examine the pavilion’s discursive concept of time through an examination of the city of Alexandria. Here, Khaled explores the city’s significance for artists, writers and filmmakers throughout history. How does the imaginary form of the city exist today, has it fallen into an endless loop of loss and nostalgia: melancholy and romanticism?
Khaled presents a newly conceived psycho-geographical reading of this territory using his own art education in the city as a starting point. Over two days, the artist will explore sites frequented by the Alexandria University Fine Art department and will consider how they were used as locations for academic study; these are places that were intended to hold the essence of the city, where young students from the school came to create their first drawings and paintings.
This proposal stems from ongoing research by Khaled on public state-run sites and parks in the city of Alexandria, which embody contentious political histories.
The locations examined within this happening were once spectacular in aesthetic and in their dimensions. Indeed, these sites had become a destination for generations of young people, and particularly art students (including Khaled) seeking natural vistas worthy of a landscape study or figurative subjects during their academic training. Today, neglect by the authorities has transformed these sites into near-ruins; fragments awaiting continued decay, like the city that houses them.
Postponed Dates on a Disappearing Coast is a reactive meditation on the crisis of memory and the erosion of history. Through walking and reading from the artist and invited guests, Khaled will unfold an archaeology of the city and beg for a collective meditation on the inevitable human act of failure.