Stelios Kallinikou’s Flamingo Theatre is situated across and beyond a 7km stretch of undeveloped flat land on the East coast of the Akrotiri peninsula in Limassol, Cyprus, titled Lady’s Mile. The beach is located within the British Western Sovereign Base Area, one of two territories (the other being Dhekelia) controversially retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence. A playful nod to the past, it received its name after the first British governor’s horse ‘Lady’, which he would exercise along the coastal stretch.
For many local Cypriot families Lady’s Mile remains a beloved beach. Neither a place nor a non-place, neither Cypriot nor non-Cypriot, it is more akin to a mutated dream set. South of the beach are the guarded RAF bases where fighter aircrafts can often be seen and heard training or taking off on missions to the Middle East (recently Britain’s parliament voted for military operations in Syria from Akrotiri); gigantic British radio-listening communication antennas loom over the landscape, their presence an ongoing concern for locals worried about electromagnetic radiation emissions; sand dunes are exploited by motocross enthusiasts and the open space by model airplane aficionados; vessels up to 250m long can be seen plodding in the north of the beach, where lies Cyprus’ largest and busiest seaport, also an evacuation point for refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East; and lastly, the large marshy Akrotiri salt lake is only a few hundred meters away, considered one of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most important wetlands, attracting thousands of wading birds and the much celebrated Greater Flamingos, stopping over during migration between Africa and Europe.
Over the course of two years Kallinikou has been crafting an allegory out of these coexisting dimensions, a temporal zone that bridges politics and poetry, where scales, values and narratives are shed of attached meanings, flirting with abstraction. Flamingos are animated in RAF symbols and model airplanes mimic military operations; the local and global overlap, identities break down and ecology meets history. A stage is set framing current events as performance, offering a counter proposal to today’s hyper-dazed rhythms. The audience attending Flamingo Theatre is asked to sit back, meditate and bear witness to the unfolding of history from the unlikeliest of positions, a small family beach in Cyprus.