Relocations
Maria Toumazou
Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia
07–07–2022
by Aristotelis Nikolas Mochloulis
Maria Toumazou, SCRAP B. [1], 2022. Neoterismoi Toumazou font, carbon transfer on card, 18 x 20 x 1 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022.Photography: Panayiotis Mina

Arriving at the street-level entrance of Pantazis Court in Nicosia, one is met by a mirror-backed display holding a few shy rows of books. An A4 paper sign taped onto the glass reads: “You can find all my books at Moufflon Bookshop, on the 1st floor of our building. Thanks, Theodoulos Pantazis.” Pantazis, the owner of the building, at once proudly advertises the books he’s written, the bookshop selling them, and his property where the shop resides. Besides the sign, there are a few other notables on display: a picture of the building’s facade, hand-written notes with further descriptions of the books on sale, Christmas nick-nacks collecting the summer’s dust, and finally, a small, fan-shaped card with the carbon-printed inscription “SCRAP B.”. The card is one of several artworks on display at Moufflon, forming part of Cypriot artist Maria Toumazou’s survey of what she calls “studio works” presented by Point Centre for Contemporary Art, titled Scrap B.. Made during gaps between exhibitions, these smaller works absorb material off-cuts, throwaways, and spares from Toumazou’s studio intended as private experiments—means to drive the creation of other, “larger” works.

Maria Toumazou, installation view. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina.

SCRAP B. (the work) is made out of the card found in old receipt books to block the carbon transfer ink from bleeding onto the rest of the pages; Toumazou has been holding onto these kinds of cards for years. The one that appears here is a member of that collection, a scrap cut-up and branded. The font traces back to her grandfather’s novelty shop, Neoterismoi Toumazou, where he would find fun in drawing the price tags by hand. Evolving through the years into a unique typographical style, the font was later imitated and used on the invitation letters for Toumazou’s artist-run space, called Neoterismoi Toumazou, which she ran with Orestis Lazouras and Marina Xenofontos. The shop’s location, name, and the aforementioned font were all in a sense inherited; a few years after Toumazou’s grandfather’s shop closed, the exhibition space opened in the same building under the same name.

Maria Toumazou, installation view. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina.

After a brief climb up the stairs, one enters Moufflon’s front room and office. The bookshop has relocated several times since it first opened, jotting itself around the outskirts of the old city’s Venetian Walls. Its current abode is found in Pantazis Court’s first-floor apartment in the back of Makariou Avenue, the city’s most recent testing ground for urban regeneration. These newfound surroundings echo a significant change for the store itself: lacking a traditional storefront, it has pivoted chiefly to online sales, evidenced by the shipping boxes found squeezed around the owner’s office.

Maria Toumazou, Glasgow School of Art, 2012. Pastel on paper bags, 42 x 39 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina.

Moving further into the store’s main room, amongst many stacks of books, one encounters an open, old, dark green archival drawer. In it, Glasgow School of Art (2012), a playful pastel drawing of octopus-like squiggles on three paper bags is lightly placed in the braces of a few cut-up protective boards. In a couple of places, the drawing reads “art store”— Toumazou has traced and filled in the bag’s logo. The oldest of the works presented dates back to Toumazou’s studies in the Scottish city and provokes memories of strolls through art supply stores, second-hand bookstores, and curious street stands. In Ecosystem (2022), wood veneer is glued to a torn piece of gift wrap with a school of fish and sea life pictured on its surface. Sharks fashioned with pink belts, octopi coyly smiling, sea turtles reading their tools to build a castle, and a couple of crabs holding up signs saying “Hello,” seem oblivious to the wood veneer sinking down in their midst.

Maria Toumazou, Ecosystem, 2022. Found gift wrap, wood veneer, 32 x 28.5 x 1 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina

In one corner, Found golden reflection (2022), a blue Formica cross with a few odd film boxes spliced into it hangs low underneath a light switch. The work was made with the leftovers from an older installation, and a series of gelatin silver prints of public sculptures Toumazou photographed in 2021. Across from it, Unexpected union of Joe’s (blank cross paper) and mom’s (carnival serpentine) gifts, under studio light (2022), is comprised of paper mounted on a card with a pastiche of a cross and a thick black border surrounding it with six rows of red decorative serpentine casually glued on its surface. The edges of the serpentine are hanging loose in the air. In the middle of this piece, just below the serpentine, is a row of polyester fabric with a flower print cut into the shape of the shadows once cast by the serpentines while the work hung under Toumazou’s studio light. These two icon-like works are centred by the shadows and reflections they produce, almost like lamps are centred by the light they produce.

Maria Toumazou, Unexpected union of Joe’s (blank cross paper) and mom’s (carnival serpantine) gifts, under studio light, 2022. Paper mounted on card, serpentine, polyester, 30 x 24 x 1.5 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina

In the centre of the main room rests Scrap Book, a collection of new pencil and charcoal drawings, copies of images of Connect the Dots drawings Toumazou found in Facebook and Instagram ads, banners, billboards, and murals around the city of Nicosia. Starting out abstract, the first few drawings recall doodles made in the margins of a book, as a calming exercise or while absentmindedly wandering into a daydream. Taking on a more complex form, the drawings connect a couple of hands holding each other, the bust of a woman, a face. At first glance they can look like polygons from a video game, filling their forms with depth and surface, but when looked at in more detail they reveal themselves to be random, having only loose ties to the images they overlay. As if a child had gotten bored and began tracing their own geometries, defying those of their worksheets. That these images are mostly taken from advertisements comes as a sly punchline with a list of sources and taglines on the last page: “Let’s grow your Business Together!”, “How to Create An Integral Spiritual Life Practice”, “Computer enthusiast? The place for you!”.

Maria Toumazou, Scrap Book, 2022. Published by Point Centre for Contemporary Art & Maria Editions, Edition of 200, 25 x 37 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina

Up on the terrace, one finds Trestles no. 1 (Moufflon) (2022) composed of a wooden cabinet laid sky-facing on a pair of trestles that Toumazou commissioned Felix Taylor of Platten Haus to make. The aluminium trestles are held together only by a couple of linchpins, and the stars spangling their legs were cut out using a tube laser cutter. The old, handmade cabinet – which Toumazou found fly-tipped in front of Pantazis court –  is held together with a good amount of nails. Laying sideways inside the cabinet is Calendar (2022), a calendar from 1995 open to its May page. Loaned to Toumazou by Ruth, Moufflon’s owner, who mentions that the calendar has remained with her throughout all the relocations. On its cover is a work by Christoforos Savvas, a Cypriot modernist artist and founder of the first artist-run space on the island, who Ruth and Toumazou both cherish. The calendar’s intended use has long expired, it remains a keeper of this work and others on its pages. On each side of the doorway hang two light works titled Bazaraki (2022) comprised of Uchiwa II and V lamps with deadstock pillowcases propped up behind them. On the night of the opening, the light emanating from these lamps becomes hued by the pillowcases in tones of reds and pinks, echoing Found Golden Reflection (2022).

Maria Toumazou, Bazaraki [1], 2022. Uchiwa II by Ingo Maurer, deadstock pillow case, sponge, 75 x 56 x 14 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina

In her essay “The Sentence is a Lonely Place”, writer Garielle Lutz describes how as a child, it rarely, if ever, occurred to her to read a book. Instead, she “liked how anything small (a pretzel crumb, perhaps) that fell into the gutter of the book – that troughlike place where facing pages meet ­­­– stayed there and was preserved. A book was, for [her], an acquisitive thing, absorbing, accepting, taking into itself whatever was dropped into it.” [1] Only much later, was she keened into the words and ideas put down on their pages that eventually steered her into writing them herself. Toumazou’s gaze in Scrap B. is similarly acquisitive, shedding light on the residues in the margins of her practice and history. As in Lutz’s recollection of her coming to language, with Scrap B., Toumazou evokes a world of subterranean influence, located ubiquitously in her everyday life.

Maria Toumazou, Trestles no.1 (Moufflon), 2022. Found furniture, Felix Taylor (Platten Haus) commission, 100 x 120 x 210 cm. SCRAP B., Point Centre for Contemporary Art at Moufflon Bookshop, Nicosia, 2022. Photography: Panayiotis Mina

[1] Lutz, G., Partial List of People to Bleach. Future Tense Books, 2013

SCRAP B.

Maria Toumazou

30/05-09/07/2022

Point Centre for Contemporary Art

at Moufflon Bookshop

Pantazis court

Mnasiadou 2-1st Floor, apt. 101

Nicosia, Cyprus, 1065