Unsettled is a lecture performance by scholar and filmmaker Argyro Nicolaou that explores the fast-changing landscapes of an island under occupation and her attempts to reconstruct her mother’s past.
The town of Varosha on the eastern coast of Cyprus, where Nicolaou’s mother is from, was fenced off by the occupying Turkish military for 46 years. Since the Greek-backed coup d’etat and Turkish invasion of 1974 that divided the island and displaced a third of its population, Varosha was neither settled nor demolished. It turned into a “ghost town”.
In 2006, a family friend entered the town undetected, snuck into the family’s ancestral home, and recovered a childhood diary that belonged to Nicolaou’s mother. This was the closest Nicolaou came to witnessing her mother’s life before she was displaced, until October 2020, when the Turkish military opened Varosha to the public, and the two women were able to visit the town together for the first time.
Argyro Nicolaou is a writer and filmmaker based in New York. Her work deals with the representation of history, displacement, and intergenerational memory in post-conflict, postcolonial societies, like her home country of Cyprus. Argyro’s short films have screened at festivals and art exhibitions in Europe and the US, and her writing has been featured in the American Historical Review, the Journal of Mediterranean Studies, MoMA post and Boston Art Review, among others. She is currently working on her first feature film, and is a resident fellow at the OSUN Center for Human Rights & The Arts at Bard College