Four-channel video installation, dimensions variable
collaboration with Eleni Mouzourou as part of the project Buffer Zone, 2013
‘A Bees Incident’ is based on a visit conducted in May 2013 into the
UN controlled buffer zone that separates Cyprus in a northern and southern part.
The buffer zone cuts through the island, being in some places only a few meters
wide while spanning over a few kilometres in other areas. As recorded by the
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, ‘its northern and southern limits
are the lines where the belligerents stood following the ceasefire of 16 August
Within the confines of this ‘no man’s land’, official strict regulations and policies
coexist along with the specific individuals assigned to administrate its control
and the local civic actors claiming and occasionally renegotiating its ‘terms of
use’. Our interest lies in investigating the wider frame of social, political and
economical relationships between the different groups’ activities intersecting in
the buffer zone while at the same time evaluating the potential contained in
singular incidents as meaningful forms of exceptions or anomalies, disrupting
the dead zones’ ostensible neutrality.
Our video work traces a minimal incident, one of the many conflictual events
resulting from the civil agricultural activities interacting with the presence of foreign
troops on the divided island. Such minor conflicts and complaints normally surpass
public awareness, as physical access to the buffer zone is highly restricted,
and so is the flow of information regarding any activities within.
However, in this case–hereby named ‘The Bees Incident‘–accounts on an
accident involving a bees swarm attacking a national guard soldier on sentry
duty at one of the buffer zone gateways leaked into the media sphere of the
island, covering a partial aspect of the occurrence. Upon further investigation,
different fragments and conflicting perspectives on the incident emerged.
The work seeks to trace and confront the multiple viewpoints and accounts of
the different actors involved in the incident, incorporating the hypotheses, the
doubts and uncertainties as an integral part of the narrative in construction. It
questions the ontological status of the event as such, showing it as an ambiguous
amalgam: a construct of consciousness and unconsciousness, narration
and diffusion, of politics and ideology, of reality and fiction, contingency and
By reducing the scale of observation and focusing on this singular incident in the
buffer zone, we want to consider its value as a triggering event for addressing
and questioning side-aspects of the ethno-national conflict and the management
of the status quo in Cyprus.
The layered and obscured account that unfolds through the multiple recounting
of a story leads to a broader reflection on micro-history and the validity of the
historical narrative. It inquires as to the possible relations between the individual
and the collective ontological mode, seeking to surpass the morbid political fractions
petrified in the latter.
Can the isolated and fragmented story open imaginative passageways towards
an alternative projection, towards subversive forms of communality as opposed
to the commonplace function of the buffer zone as one of reducing shock by
avoiding contact? And can the natural space of the buffer zone and its
non-human agents be respected as stakeholders within this future process of
Naomi Hennig – Eleni Mouzourou, Sept 2013
Installation view at Apartment Project, Berlin 2014