Lisa Socrates (Centre for Intercultural Studies, University College London):

De-territorialising the ‘nation’: Deleuzian time, space and narrative in the video art of Lia Lapithi Shukuroglou.


Current Trends in Greek Cinema

University of Oxford, Taylor Institution

May 29 2010



This paper offers the national context of Greek-Cypriot screen culture post -1974, taking the video art of Lia Lapithi Shukuroglou as a case study.[1]  It sets out to intervene in an expanding debate on aspects of national culture drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of cinema from his two volumes:  Cinema 1: The Movement Image (1983) and Cinema 2: The Time- Image (1986). [2]  For those who are familiar with the national context of Cyprus it may be apparent how much the themes of time and space and their connection to aspects of narrative are integral to debates of ‘nation’.   For the uninitiated, I should add that the theories in these two volumes open avenues for exploring screen culture in Cyprus, even though there are no references in Deleuze to the screen culture of emerging national cinemas.  My paper acknowledges David Martin-Jones’s work   Deleuze, Time and National Cinema (2006) and takes his thesis as point of departure to synthesize Deleuze’s  ideas on time and space with Lapithi’s video art.  [3]  Of particular importance is Martin-Jones’s reference to the national as an ‘untheorised dimension’ of Deleuze (2006: 1).

The scope of my paper consists of a reading of three of Lapithi’s video shorts focusing on  Deleuze’s thesis in relation to the crucial  moment of historical transformation. Where he demarcates the Second World War as a transitional moment in his work,  I argue that in the Greek Cypriot national context 1974 constitutes the historical watershed.  I will consider the extent to which Lapithi engages with aspects of territorialisation and de-territorialisation in ways which Deleuze has utilized them in these volumes,   whilst arguing how far we are compelled to revisit them.  This is the contribution of Lapithi’s response to ‘1974’ within  a national context which is new to both scholars of Deleuze and screen studies.   

The three video shorts are entitled:

Rabbits have no Memory (1.55 mins:  2006)

Grade IV: I do not Forget (3 mins: 2007)

Electricity (2.30 mins: 2006)


 Throughout his two volumes Deleuze uses the terms territorialisation and de-territorialisation  in a distinctly concrete and physical sense and at others in more abstract and metaphorical ways.  Certainly in the earlier collaborative work with Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, the reader is given to understand these as abstract terms.[4]  My paper will conclude by predicating   whether ‘re-territorialisation, be it abstract or  more tangible  is possible or desirable as a conceptual model for understanding the ‘nation’s’ space and time.

Deleuze: historical transformation and ‘de-territorialisation’

The transitional shift in thinking between the ideas of Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 are mapped out by Deleuze within a historical context.  Linear and  continuous narratives, the ‘movement-images’ of pre Second World War cinema, give way to post-war ‘time-images.’ Pre-war narratives embodied in the popular genres of the Hollywood studio system are described by Deleuze as ‘action-images’ which create a ‘false-movement’ through their illusion of continuity.  Narratives move from frame to frame through the actions of the male hero, in spaces which are defined, settings which are determined and through presupposed actions.  In Cinema 2  Deleuze invites us to view the subordination of space to time and to consider its  deterritorialisation which is both abstract and material.  This historical shift expresses the old and new spaces.  Post war Europe is characterized by a landscape altered by bombings, physical ruin and desolation.  But physical chaos is a way of seeing a moral chaos.  History is seen to de-stabilise the homogeneous spaces of pre-war Europe, so that Deleuze is at once referring to a transformation of cinematic spaces as much as the fragmented space of the post-war landscape.  Deleuze describes  post-war spaces as  ‘…a new form of reality, said to be dispersive, elliptical, errant or wavering, working in blocs, with deliberately weak connections and floating events’ ( 1989:1). Post-war European cinema is the blueprint for the ascendancy of time-images.

1974: Spaces before and after

Through Lapithi’s video art the time-image becomes an avenue for excavating the complexities of the national past and locating the ‘nation’s’ space before and after 1974.   Lapithi notes how the lifting of the physical barrier in Nicosia in 2003 has opened her ‘memory box’ ; a compressed space of her personal recollections which are now expressed through her videos as ‘Time Sliced’. [5] I interpret this memory box of personal memories as equivalent to the Deleuzian notion of the ‘crystals’ of  time, what he defines as the ‘circuit’ around the image (1989:66-7).  If we sense that we are venturing into abstract territory with Lapithi here there are two concrete instances where she makes explicit how much her work is about territorialisation through physical and geographical realities. (Thirteen Videos: 2003-2008  and also Water).[6] In context her exploration of ‘de-territorialisation’ draws her ‘reader’ towards an understanding of ‘nation’ in relation to its space and landscape; whilst there are nuances of the abstract and metaphorical which at times also characterize her work .   In Deleuze,  deterritorialisation takes place cinematically  because whilst the elements of a ‘set’ are give a ‘common standard’ by the screen, they do not possess  as Deleuze points out, a ‘common denominator’ (1986: 16).  This inequity means that in the movement of the whole set, some elements remain outside and do not extend forward into the next frame.  Sound remains outside because it is not equivalent to optical or light images: ‘…purely optical or sound situation becomes established in what we might call “any-space-whatever”,  whether  disconnected, or emptied’ it is ‘unlike the action image, never continuous or linear ( 1989:5). 

As the shift from space to time captures the emergence of optical or sound images, it heralds the very deterritorialisation of the image itself, expressed through the visualization on the screen of ‘time itself’, ‘…a little time in its pure state’ where it becomes ‘perceptible in the optical sound space.   It is never induced into action but insists that we pay attention’ (1989: 17-18). Martin-Jones regards this moment in Deleuze’s work as a deterritorialisation by the ‘unruly time image’ which displaces the ‘narrative into multiple labyrinth versions’ (2006:5). Reading Rabbits have no Memory  [7] throws out the question of how far such unruliness marks a temporary hiatus of a national narrative on course towards re-territorialisation as Martin-Jones argues (2006).

Rabbits have no Memory

This text addresses the theme of space and its deterritorialisation, where homogeneous connected space has yielded to fragmented  space, amplifying a resistance to narrative continuity.  Lapith highlights the eviction of the Cypriot people from land, homes, community kinships and ‘roots’ in a culture where origins and rootedness are tantamount to identity. Deterritorialisation in this national context is a reference to the profound experience of loss, desire to return, and the deterritorialisation of individuals from their geographical place and historical space.  Abstract ‘duration’ captures their waiting.  The relocation of both Greek and Turkish- Cypriot communities, the concentration of ethnic populations in the north and south, territorial division and a political landscape enmeshed within a discourse of separation and legitimate claims to land redefine ‘deterritorialisation’ resoundingly.  As Ian Buchanan argues the experience of ‘deterritorialisation’ becomes ‘the process whereby the very basis of one’s identity, the proverbial ground beneath our feet is eroded, washed away like the bank of a river swollen by floodwater….’.  [8]    In the text, a  black, blank screen becomes an ‘any-space-whatever’, disconnected and hesitant. This rarefied frame (unique in Deleuze’s estimation 1986: 12), emptied of its elements locates Lapithi in a powerful position in relation to the history of her community as she attempts to re-compose the set and perform a radical transformation of meaning which must be de-coded.

Space and super-modernity

Referring to the experience of  supermodernity in Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s  Anti Oedipus, Buchanan describes the individual’s ‘eviction’ from their local bearings in place for the ‘global’. So much so that this ‘disorientation means that we can’t seem to get our bearings in this brave new world without borders.’ (Deleuze  and Space, 2005: 17).  Lapithi’s video art amplifies the conflict between historical continuity in familiar settings and the kind of ‘disorientation’ which Buchanan refers to.  Here the casino is not just a ‘floating event’ wavering and elliptical in Deleuzian terms but a new space post -1974. At such moments of transformation Buchanan and Lambert suggest how ‘…the practical problem of what it takes to make space habitable to make places from sites where the active place-making infrastructure (tradition, memory, habit and so forth) had been withered destroyed or displaced (2005: 2).   ‘Refugee Housing Anthoupolis’ is a cultural signifier of post-war society which crystallizes flight, nomadic living and an eviction from ‘habitable ‘ space  with ‘place-making infrastructure’ to makeshift refugee camps.   In the massive building projects which took place in the south new supermodern economic spaces emerged:  casinos, nightclubs, a proliferation of bars and cabaret spots. These new spaces were not located in city centres , which were the sites  of historical events  but on their outskirts of new motorways: places one could drive to without having to go through town centres. These spaces which are not ‘habitable’ emerged as sites of mobility for tourists.  The ‘non-places’ of Auges’s supermodernity. [9]

Lapithi’s unruly time-image scrambles any notion of national history as a linear narrative. The disconnected image of the rabbit and the casino represent two historical periods: the 1950s and 1974.  The split screen juxtaposes them  to appear historically continuous, giving  them a false symmetry, with Lapithi striking at Durrell’s narrative to subvert and expose the territorializing power of British colonialism.  The de-territorialisation of the Cypriot population through the politics of divide and rule in the 1950s [10] interprets the crisis of 1974 as a continuum of colonization as Lapithi rewrites the narrative in the gaps or ‘durations’ of time.  These slices of time project the stillness within the frame referencing the Bergsonian idea of time splitting.  Stillness rather than movement attempt to recollect an alternative time of the ‘nation’.  Ending with the initial predicament of space, the sound of the shot gun and barking dogs, the sound image remains outside of the frame only to emerge as a driving narrative strategy in another text.

GRADE IV: I do not Forget and ‘Sheets of Past’

Centering on the pedagogical ideology, stemming from the State which continues to dominate post-1974 discourse, the  title refers to the cultural practice of ‘remembering’ / forgetting which is instilled through the elementary school system.  All pupils have the phrase’ I do not forget’ on their textbooks. In the video, a  boy is punished in an after school detention where he must fill twenty notebooks with the phrase ‘I must love my neighbour’.  Authority and power are accented in the repetitive practice of writing whilst the text engages pointedly with space and time, highlighting their dynamic and antagonism. Most striking is the paradox represented by the very tense of the verb ‘forget’which creates a friction between time and national space and one which is arguably selected deliberately to instill a ‘not forgetting’ in perpetuity.  At the same time it suggests the crisis of ‘nation’ in connection to its recent past. The boy cannot recall a memory he must not ‘forget’ because it is not his past, but moreover, collective remembering as Deleuze argues, creates ‘different sheets of the past’ (Cinema 2,  1989: 95-121). He explains how duration is subjective, non-chronological and one which constitutes our ‘inner-life (Cinema 2, 1989: 82).

Thus, by borrowing Homi K Bhabha’s concepts ‘pedagogical’ and ‘performative’ time in relation to national narratives I want to argue how far Lapithi rejects the linear continuist and official history of the ‘nation’ which is being ‘written’ through the ideology of ‘not forgetting’. [11] By putting on the headphones, the boy rejects outside public time, authority and  power  and in Bhabha’s language the pedagogical narrative of the ‘nation’.  The audience shares the interior time he creates as the video plays on the notion of inside and outside space. The sound image, left outside of Deleuze’s set now saturates the frame because Lapithi subverts the territorialisation of state pedagogy through a de-territorialising strategy using Deleuzian time and the sound narrative to destabilize the meaning of ‘nation’.




Electricity and the Sound Narrative

Ambient sounds from CyBC radio are heard (broadcasting events of August 1974) and  then  Greek bouzouki music, supplanting movement for sound . [12]  Seemingly irrational cuts then focus on the mountain range known as the ‘five fingered mountain’, the Pendathaktylos  located in the north.    As stillness and sound expand  within the text we  hear Ottoman music as the Turkish flag lights up in the landscape of the  mountain,  the largest flag in the world we are told, measuring 1000m.  The lights are sourced from energy in the south.   Electricity realizes the potential of the sound image by dissolving inside and outside space.  Sound saturates the frame, eliminating not only the action-image associate with linear narratives but the affection image too, recomposing the frame. Lapithi de-stabilises movement, linear narratives and continuity by privileging time and duration in an essentially Deleuzian mode. Layers of time are excavated sustained on the presence of the sound image which functions as a narrative device. As Lapithi creates the rarefaction noted in her previous work she gives sound an autonomous status, allowing it to infiltrate the blank screen.   Exploiting the possibilities of sound, Lapithi deterritorialises space to amplify the experience of loss, flight and the immense connectedness of her community to place and landscape.  Electricity sharpens its audience’s sensibilities to the significance of the northern part of Cyprus for those who once lived there, who were forced to take flight; and whose return is delayed.  

There will be no Homecoming  [13]

To conclude, I want to argue that Lapith’s video-art represents a new horizon to consider Deleuzian time-images within a Greek-Cypriot national context.  As the Cypriot ‘nation’ negotiated its transition from colonialism to modernity and beyond to post-modernity, these complexities are represented as questions of time and space.  Territorialisation and de-territorialisation are captured in their abstract and physical aspects where spaces are both inside and outside; public and individual. Lapithi’s reverence of time as duration in a Deleuzian sense anticipates the most auspicious becoming.    Nonetheless, are we to apprehend duration and becoming as intervals or a derailment in the ‘nation’s’ narrative? Martin-Jones’s argument steers his reader towards a re-territorialised national narrative, whereas Buchanan reminds us that Deleuze and Guattari urge their reader not to confuse reterritorialisation with a ‘return to a primitive or older territoriality’ (2005:29). [14]   

  In Cinema 1 Deleuze concludes that the ‘crisis’ he anticipates is beyond movement (1986: 219) , but in this national context it is tantamount to the crisis of nation through its delay.  Thus in my view, Lapithi’s ironic ‘  There will be no Homecoming’  compels us to accept a nomadic flow of suspended desire to return to home, village, community and space.   If there can be no ‘homecoming’ experienced as a return to ‘older territoriality’ the flight of many after 1974 is an  expression of the ‘nation’s’ deterritorialisation, postponement and perpetual mobility.[15]

Thank you.

















Select Bibliography


Auge, Marc Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity [1995] (2006) trans. John Howe,  London: Verso Books.


Buchanan, Ian and Gregg Lambert (eds), Deleuze and Space  2005, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Bhabha, K Homi The Location of Culture (1994), London and New York: Routledge.

 Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), Les Editions de Minuit, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane with a Preface by Michel Foucault (2004), London: Continuum.


Deleuze , Gilles Cinema 1: The Movement Image( Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1983), Trans. by Hugh Tomlinson and  Barbar Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

Deleuze, Gilles  Cinema 2: The Time Image (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1986) Trans by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).

David, Martin –Jones Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts ,  Edinburgh University Press,  2006, 2008.

Marks, Laura U, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000.

Papadakis, Yiannis, Gisela Welz and Nicos Peristianis (eds), Divided Cyprus: Modernity, History, and an Island in Conflict, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006.


[1] Lia Lapithi Shukuroglou is an artist who lives and works in Nicosia, Cyprus.  Her video art can be viewed online at

[2] Deleuze, Gilles  Cinema 1: The Movement Image( Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1983), Trans. by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbar Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986) and Cinema 2: The Time Image (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1986) Trans by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).  I will heron refer to these volumes as Cinema 1 and Cinema 2.

[3] David Martin Jones Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts (2006), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p.1.

[4] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), Les Editions de Minuit, trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane with a Preface by Michel Foucault (2004), London: Continuum.

[5] ‘Sliced time’ is a reference in her book Lia Lapithi: Videos 2003-8, 2009, Nicosia: Ministry of Education and Culture.

[6] Do you Believe in Water? Lia Lapithi Shukuroglou

[7] Rabbits Have no Memory Cyprus 2006 1.55.  The title takes its name fromm a passage in a novel by Lawrence Durrell entitled Bitter Lemons (1957).  Lawrence lived in Cyprus during the 1950s.  In Lapithi’s view he was an undercover British spy. 

[8]  ‘Ian Buchanan ‘Space in the Age of Non-Place’ in Deleuze and Space, Buchanan, Ian and Gregg Lambert (eds), 2005, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 16-35, p. 23.

[9] Auge, Marc Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity [1995] (2006) trans. John Howe,  London: Verso Books.

[10] ‘Divide and Consume’, 2010

[11] Bhabha, K Homi The Location of Culture (1994), London, and New York : Routledge, p.220.

[12] August 20th is the date when mainland Turkey attacked the island by land, sea and air.  Turkish troops which have remained there to date.

[13] This message is posted on Lapithi’s website.

[14] Buchanan is referring to their work A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia [1980), University of Minnesota (1987), (2002) Translation and Forework by Brian Massumi, London and New York: Continuum

[15] Buchanan echoes Auge where he argues that the subject is kept mobile in the post-modern space, 2005, p.19.