Museum of History and Cultural Heritage of Lakatamia
Nicosia, Cyprus
Curated by Peter Eramian, Elena Parpa and Evanthia (Evi) Tselika
24 October 2019 - 15 February 2020

With Maria Andreou, Raissa Angeli, Helen Black & Yiannis Colakides, Zach Blas, Jenny Dunn, Nihaal Faizal, Veronika Georgiou, Olga Micińska, Bahar Noorizadeh, Angelo Plessas, Tabita Rezaire, Elena Savvidou, and Emiddio Vasquez

Sickle & Code is an international exhibition, part of Phygital, a programme conceptualised for Cyprus by Dr. Chrystalleni Loizidou within the scope of investigating contemporary movements towards a knowledge-sharing economy that reconsiders capitalist definitions of credit, labour and production. Phygital is currently implemented in Tzoumerka (Greece), Tirana (Albania) and Nicosia (Cyprus), involving the development of makerspaces with a focus on free and open source software driven by local communities.

As a title, Sickle & Code suggests a combination of tools: the sickle, an agricultural tool and once a resonant symbol of social revolutions; and the code, the language we develop as a tool in software programming. In contemporary debates coding links through movements, such as that of ‘free and open-source software’, with the demand, on a practical level, for open collaboration and unhindered re(distribution) of technologies and, on a theoretical level, with the social claim for freedom in access and in processes of making. Although the two tools reference distinct spheres of activity (the physical and the digital), they are both designed in order to shape the world we live in. As such, the Sickle & Code drives us to the core of the wider Phygital project, which builds on practices that move between the material and the digital, melding older forms of making and co-producing with current methods of fabrication and contemporary notions on the communal, collective and collaborative.

The Museum of History and Cultural Heritage of Lakatamia, in which the exhibition is being hosted, is housed in an old, traditionally-built residence that dates back to the British Colonial period (1922), when local materials and vernacular building methods were still applied in architecture across Cyprus. The museum is home to a wealth of objects that range from house furniture and utensils to farming tools, including a now disused sickle, and textile manufacturing equipment, which are meant to uncover the history of Lakatamia as an agricultural society, where life depended on community ties, knowledge sourced from nature and particular technological processes developed for survival. Acknowledging the specificity of such a context and the curatorial challenge of creating discursive links between current maker cultures and past methods of production and survival, the exhibition’s display develops its own logic of classification and ordering of objects. Using a ubiquitous system of shelves, what already exists in the museum is reconfigured and recast under a new light in close conversation with what is brought in by the artists, prototype teams and overall programming of the exhibition.

More specifically, in Sickle & Code, Cypriot and international artists present works that reflect, confront and re-evaluate current models of producing under the conjunction of global digital commons of knowledge. Concurrently, the museum allows us to glimpse into everyday making and living practices of the recent past and becomes the conceptual testing ground for the five Cypriot Phygital pilot projects and prototypes, as the Lakatamia makerspace is being set up in the municipality’s community centre. This is taking place within a wider emergence, in the last few years, of hackerspaces or makerspaces as community-led spaces, where free and open source software and hardware are utilized collaboratively by individuals.

– Excerpt from exhibition guide

Photos: Mirka Koutsouri