Nurtane Karagil’s awareness project ‘Coastlines Waning: All for a few extra Sunbeds’ goes live on Cyprus billboards

The destruction of the natural environment, particularly Cyprus’s beautiful coastlines, has been highlighted in a powerful new awareness campaign created by artist Nurtane Karagil.

Called ‘Coastline(s) Waning: All for a few extra Sunbeds’, Karagil’s collage of four scenes shows beaches dug up as if they are part of a construction site as people continue to sunbathe and play around them. These striking and somewhat disturbing scenes challenges us to think about the destruction being done in the name of ‘development’.

In one, a child plays alongside a truck full of sand next to a sand dune. In another, children sit among concrete sludge and try to make sandcastles as a woman in a bathing costume and sunglasses rests on her air mattress floating on grey-coloured water.

A third image shows building workers digging up a mountain of gravel as people happily sunbathe on the beach, seemingly unaware or indifferent to the destructive scene right in front of them.

The final scene is depicts Iskele’s famous Long Beach, renowned for its long and gorgeous strip of sandy beaches along Cyprus’ eastern coastline. Karagil presents high rise buildings in the background as massive construction is underway across the breadth of the beach, which is full of industrial equipment, mountains of raw materials and workers. Slurry from the site is seen pouring into the water as people sunbathe despite the clear environmental devastation taking place.

The artwork was commissioned by Visual Voices, an international non-profit organisation that uses contemporary art for peacebuilding and positive social change.

In its press statement, Visual Voices said Karagil’s latest work reflects “Her unsparingly honest and overtly no-nonsense style” to bring “key challenges, faced across the island, to the forefront of our social dialogue.”

These jarring images, which can currently be seen on billboards and buses around Cyprus, “wakes us up to our complicity in the destruction of coastlines across the island!”

Seamlessly intersecting between art and advertisement, Karagil’s approach “brings forth playful images that tackle pressing issues affecting our coastal areas”.

Talking about what inspired her choice of artwork for the project, Karagil states, “the predominant scene, across the island, is resembling a dystopian simulation of a Sim City game. A playground marked by a noticeable absence of care or awareness of the complexity of life in general. In the pursuit of rapid profit, seemingly flawless advertisements may portray pristine seas, yet they shield a harsh reality.

“The series I’ve created serves as a portrayal of the unfolding reality, drawing from a collective memory rooted in ecological consciousness. It reflects on and frames the experiences of Cyprus Coastlines that we witness on a daily basis.”

The campaign reaches the whole island of Cyprus, also with artist Korallia Stergides as a collaborating artist. Her character Korallida will be “making a splash” with upcoming interventions.

Visual Voices urges the public to “join forces to safeguard the island’s ecology”. They ask people in Cyprus who spot the billboards to share them in a post with their own reflections on the state of our coastal areas. “Tag Visual Voices, Nurtane Karagil, and Korallia Stergides social media for a reshare!”

The organisation suggests the following campaign hashtags for social media: #CoastLinesWaning #ProtectCyprusCoastlines #PreserveOurCoastlines #ClimateCultures #ForALivingPlanet #visualvoicesforpeace #AllianzFoundation #EnvironmentalAwareness

About Nurtane Karagil

Born in London in 1989, Nurtane went to school at Gazimağusa Türk Maarif College in North Cyprus. She was accepted into the painting department at Hacettepe University Fine Arts Faculty in Turkiye, completing her final undergraduate year at the Jan Evangelista Purkyne university in the Czech Republic. Nurtane went on to attain an MA from the University of Brighton.

She is currently an art lecturer at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Gazimağusa. Her recent exhibitions include: Terra Mediterranea: In Action, 2017, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre; Plánetes, 2017, Palia Ilektriki (as part of Cultural Capital of Europe Pafos 2017); SKT, Efruz, 2016, Nicosia; Bank of No, 2015, Leventis Gallery – Point Centre of Contemporary Art, Nicosia; Stepping over the borders, 2015, EMAA, Nicosia; How should a war be remembered?, 2015, Cer Modern Hub Art Space, Ankara.

About Coastline(s) Waning

Visual Voices describe their project as a critique/commentary on the dire environmental situation faced in Cyprus. The project highlights the effects of human greed and indifference to the natural environment, particularly when it comes to political and economic interests that lead to the destruction of our coastal ecosystem.

This is nowhere clearer, they say, than the ‘Tourism Paradox’ where, in recent years, the coastline has undergone “reconstruction”, driven by a desire for a little extra profit and tourism revenue.

Sand dunes have been levelled, natural rock formations removed, tall grasses slashed, etc., all leading to the loss of natural habitats and the alteration of the island’s natural landscape. Iconic beaches all around the island have been affected by this destructive trend. All for a few extra sunbeds, at the expense of our environment!

The Coastline(s) Waning campaign is scheduled to continue with additional activities until May 2024, featuring the ongoing participation of the two distinguished artists in residence for this project: Korallia Stergides and Nurtane Karagil.

The project has been carried out in cooperation with the Allianz Foundation.

All photos of billboards featuring Nurtane Karagil’s work by Nikolas Karatzas.