The Berengaria Project Exhibition

The Berengaria Project on Subjection & Defiance is performing a number of phenomenal things at once. It invites a rewriting, a radical reconceptualization of an elusive historical condition. This condition is exemplified by the figure of Berengaria, the few historical traces of whose life (the questioning of the consummation of her marriage with Lionheart, the withholding of her inheritance for a long time after his death, the way that her ‘piousness’ and ‘virtue’ amounted to a kind of political innocuousness and thus, arguably, a kind of historical negligibility) raise a whole set of feminist issues, but not just that.

Berengaria’s role as the vanishing point for this curatorial initiative also construes a larger and quite sensational metaphor regarding our relationship with power, first, as beautifully-phallically articulated by ΦΧΨ, Berengaria’s relationship with Lionheart resonates with the power-struggles around her namesakes, a legendary hotel for the rich and famous, and an abandoned British military housing estate awaiting re-exploitation. Second the Cyprus’ population’s historical relationship with colonial power (oh, how impressionable we seem or we are cast as being, how naïve, and how servile on the on hand, and childishly reactionary on the other), and finally “our” relationship with power: us, you, me, right now, and the things that control us and hold us in check, and “in our place”.

This project invites creative responses that are refreshingly free of typical trappings on various levels, most emphatically free of art-worldish exclusionary practices and self-definitions. Here we have a collective that is limited not one bit by boundaries between disciplines, formats, genres, or tired notions of art-professionalism, and focuses instead on the ever-broadening of fantastic creativity, not a crusade, not a
conquering, but a playful rendering irrelevant of limitations and boundaries, and a delightfully expansive inclusion of design perspectives. In waves: this is a project that came in waves, each one a new climax in terms of conceptual investment as well as in terms of therapeutic depth and rebellious, audacious potentiality. Each one bringing in new creators, and new forms.

Chrystalleni Loizidou, Art Historian & Cultural Studies Scholar