“I was born in UK to Cypriot refugee parents” by Kiriaki Hajiloizis

Why do you use moving image in your work and would you consider working in other mediums in the future?

Throughout my art practice-related life thus far, each medium and stage I’ve progressed through to, eventually led me to using the moving image, so I have reasoning behind each step I’ve taken. I came from a predominantly traditional painting and drawing background for about 80% of my art practice-related life because that's how I grew up, that's how I was taught and coming from a heavy-cultured family who are refugees and have lost everything they’ve ever had, finding their acceptance to pursue an art career was hard, so I felt the need to impress them with my painterly and drawing skill, that’s why I constantly aimed to be photorealistic in my work at the time - so success for me in the art world was always regarding my family and community and making them happy and impressed with my skill - I thought thats the only way I can get them to be ok with wanting to pursue an art career. It’s a big difference to now, when I’m head over heels for poor quality imagery rather than the ‘perfect’ image though. People tell me to not forget my painting and drawing skills, but I see those skills as ex-weapons actually, however dramatic as that sounds, but I fought through judgement, acceptance and hardships with those skills and I’m quite apprehensive to return to them. I found at university, trying to express a narrative within painting and drawing was difficult, there was just so much I wanted to say that I couldn’t capture it in one screen-shot/frame i.e. canvas and eventually evolved in me using more than one frame, multiple frames…the moving image. Considering another medium? Right now I’m happy with digital art, I love how i can manipulate it and find all sorts of archives. I wouldn’t mind to try and get back into painting, it's just proving difficult to find ways to composite my narrative.

You're talking about lost memory and identity, do you feel that your roots are in Cyprus or Uk?

In regards to identity, it’s hard to answer someone’s question ‘where are you from?’, because it’s obvious I’m not British because of my appearance, but I’ve tried both answers actually. I’ve answered with ‘Nottingham’ before and the person just looks at me all puzzled because they were expecting me to say another country. I’ve also answered ‘Cyprus’ before and they either say ‘Greek or Turk?’ or they say ‘How long have you lived in England then because you’ve got an accent’. I never know what to say. Shall I just say my life story to a simple question - ‘Yeah, I was born in the UK to Cypriot refugee parents…so I am British, but I’m also Cypriot, but I’m not a ‘typical Cypriot’. Genuinely, I was born and raised in the UK, so I feel more at home in England, I know England like the back of my hand, I know the culture, the lifestyle, the language, the people, but when I go to Cyprus, I feel comfortable with my culture and religion there, it’s a weird feeling. When I step on to Cypriot soil I feel my heart magnetise to the earth, maybe it’s because I’ve been deprived of it for so long - that’s my biological home, but England is my adopted home…I guess.

What is your personal view on the situation of Cyprus?

I want to see it free. I’ve never seen it free. Ideally I want it to be freed in my parents' life. If that’s not possible, I will fight for its' freedom as much as I physically and mentally can. I believe my generation should be working equally as hard just like the generation of my parents, because time is ticking. The more time passes, the more something can be forgotten.

Do you think that if the invasion would have happened in the EU there would have been a different outcome?

Well, it has happened before. Britain occupied Cyprus, but had dealt with it amicably rather than how the Turkish government have. Britain gave Cyprus its' freedom in 1960. Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus are areas of British military bases, ‘they were retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which granted independence to the Crown colony of Cyprus. The territory serves an important role as a station for signals intelligence and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East’ as quoted from Wikipedia. North Cyprus however is illegally occupied, they have their own flag, their own laws, the only country to recognise it as a state is Turkey itself. No other country. So when I see all these holiday adverts from the billboards with Turkish airlines that fly to North Cyprus, I just stare with an empty heart. If Turkey can give Cyprus its' freedom they will have more of an entry into the EU, but so far they are occupying an EU country, so that proves difficult. I also understand that there has to be a unification agreement and respect between both parties of the Cypriot and Turkish government and civilisation. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later.

What is the next step in your work?

If I told you, i’d have to kill you. I’M NOT TELLING. Just kidding, I’d like to focus more on topics of generated after-effected groups in Cyprus, unification, religion and culture dynamics, diaspora, basically everything that I am interested in.

Name a few artists you would collaborate with

I’m not sure, they’re all famous. I think I’d like to collaborate with other video artists to get their take on narrative, composition and structure. Jeremy Deller…that would be exciting. And definitely get pointers off Lindsay Seers.

Watch the artist's work here: