Odyssey | Cyprus in Venice
Nikos Kouroussis
Eleni Nikita

Nikos Kouroussis was offered a box-like room at the back of the Italian pavilion at the Giardini. The room was in a bad state and half of the ceiling hung very low, which made the set-up even trickier. Despite these conditions and the usual technical difficulties, Kouroussis managed to put together his installation, taking Ulysses’ story as an autobiographical metaphor as well as a poetic allusion to a collective desire for ‘justice and truth’. The central piece consisted of hand-folded paper boats made of glossy Cypriot and Italian magazine pages, oscillating on the tips of fine metallic strings, or piling on top of geometric metal constructions on the floor. A wall arrangement showed 12 photographic views of a Cypriot seascape, next to a video with images and sounds recorded on location. The video equipment got stolen just after the opening, and the installation, like most others in the same space, suffered damage under a thick coat of pigeon droppings. The July-August issue of Italian architecture magazine L’Arca published an article on the biennial where the shows of Anish Kapoor (British pavilion) and Kouroussis featured among four key national representations. Initially, Kouroussis intended to construct 5 large wooden sculptures in the shape of a paper boat and pull them along the Grand Canal, alluding to the historical, cultural and commercial bonds between Cyprus and Venice during the Middle Ages. The wooden boats were then to be installed inside the pavilion, next to a video documentation of the performance. The artist was forced to readjust his original proposal due to the shortage of budget. Twenty years on, that work essentially became realised for the purposes of this exhibition.

Nikos Kouroussis

Nikos Kouroussis (b.1937, Mitsero) lives and works in Nicosia. He studied in London at St. Marin’s School of Art (1960-1961) and at Hornsey College of Art (1961-1964). He later attended a course on stage design in England in 1977 (on a scholarship from the British Council) and made research and gave lectures in U.S.A. (on a Fulbright scholarship) in 1986. He gave a series of lectures on art at Pratt University in New York in 1976 and 1988 as guest artist, as well as at South Dacota State University. Kouroussis represented Cyprus at the 44th Venice Biennale of Art, as well as the 36th Venice Biennale of Art together with four other Cypriot artists.

  • Eleni Nikita

    Born in Nicosia. She studied Social Sciences at the University of Geneva. She is a Ph.D. of the University of Athens in the history of Art. She worked at the Center for Social Research (1971-1977) and in the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture (1977-2009), which she served as director from 2003 to 2009. She was for many years the representative of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the Committee on Culture the Council of Europe and various committees of the European Union. He was also Secretary General of the Cyprus National Committee of UNESCO from 2001 to 2009. He is the author of many studies, works of art criticisms and books on modern art. Her book “Christoforos Savvas, the beginning of a new era in Cypriot art”, was honored with the 2009 State Prize of Literature in the essay-research class. He was honored by the French government with the Order of the Knight of the Order of the Academic Phoenix and by the Austrian government with the Honorable Cross for Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and the Society of Historic Art of Greece. Since 2012 she has been working with the Leventis Art Gallery as a curator of the Cypriot collection of the LA Leventis Foundation.


Italian Pavillion (Giardini di Castello)