Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite II,
Nicolas Lambouris & Theopisti Stylianou Lambert
collage on found book plates, dimensions 34 x 49 cm
Stylianou-Lambert, T., & Lambouris, N., Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite II, Nicosia: IAPT Press, 2020
Ed.: Artemis Eleftheriadou, Text Contributions: Andreas Panayiotou, Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, Nicolas Lambouris
2020. 128pp.
29.5 x 22 cm
ISBN: 978-9925-7512-1-1

George Lanitis’, Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite [Νάσος τας Αφροδίτας], published in 1965, in Nicosia, was one of the first ambitious artistic efforts in producing a photographic book on Cyprus. In a hefty volume divided in three-sections appropriately titled ‘The Place’, ‘The People’ and ‘Tradition’, Lanitis attempts to encapsulate the visual essence of 1960s Cyprus; a visual testament to an ethno-national and romantic vision of the island.

Fifty-five years on, Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite manifests both as an artistic and historical artefact, a segment of a ‘curated’ archive of Cypriot imagery, a tactile and conceptual point of departure for this project. When in 2017 the Lanitis family granted access to the Cyprus University of Technology to digitize his surviving photographic archive, the artists Stylianou-Lambert and Lambouris were faced with a vast number of photographs that were simultaneously familiar, peculiar, personal at times, yet distinctively Cypriot. After spending months viewing and studying Lanitis’ archive, while also considering the pages of the original book for possible visual connections and interventions, the artists settled on their own selections, exclusions and visual juxtapositions for a new photobook.

Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite II, published in 2020, is Stylianou-Lambert’s and Lambouris’ attempt to renegotiate their own visual past and a tribute to the creative process of photographic selection, exclusion and erasure. In what becomes an extended photographic act, the 1965 book is meticulously reproduced, only this time, ‘new’ photographs –photographs from Lanitis’ archive– are introduced and partially overlaid on top of the original pages; all the while, remaining aware of the fact that the mere act of overlaying material necessitates a much more violent act, that of erasure. As sociologist Andreas Panayiotou mentions in the introduction of Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite II:
‘The imposition of one picture on the other may shock the eye, and feel like a violation. The eye cannot see the older image in its totality. It can imagine it. But the artistic intervention is not only a negation. It is also a continuation. This is a book in which artists of the 21st century create a new paradox by adding archival photos, as if in a collage, to older, classical by now, “sacred” images.’

In appropriating the 1965 Cyprus: Island of Aphrodite, Stylianou-Lambert and Lambouris approached the original book as a complete artifact, a work in its own right, carefully considering issues of reproduction, materiality and book design. Working closely with Artemis Elefteriadou, IAPT Press’ editor and art director, the 2020 Cyprus Island of Aphrodite II, reproduces the original in its entirety making sure that the viewer can distinguish the two layers, old and new. The resulting book is an alternative view of a past Cyprus; one that reveals omitted images and focuses on the politics of the everyday.