The movements of Conceptual Art, Happenings, Performances, Process Art, Earth and site works, Environmental Art etc. arose in Europe and America in the 1960s. In Cyprus, however, until 1990 very few artists had been engaged in these kinds of art.
Rinos Stefani introduced his Praxeis (Actions) in 1990. I started working with him for the first time in Marks on Land, in the Akamas area. We made Earth and site works, using wood, stones, bones and any natural material available. Some of the works were “discovered” by fishermen, shepherds and various “experts”, all of whom confirmed to the Media that they were works done by … Satanists!
From the remote Akamas, Rinos decided to bring his Actions to Nicosia. He filled the Apocalypse Gallery with soil, and on April 10, 1991, he carried out the performance Praxis with Earth. The public’s reactions varied. One “advanced” opinion I remember, was that the artist should have appeared completely naked.
The name “Praxeis”, which Rinos established, was chosen to emphasize the priority of action over theory. Art is not only about statements and theories. On October 27, 1991, he presented the installation Mannequins on Beds at the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos. Another significant Praxis was the happening Maa-Mannequins on July 20, 1992, at Coral Bay beach in Paphos, in which he placed 20 plastic, life-size dolls among the bikini-clad crowd. In a bi-communal exhibition in 1993, he showed the installation Mousetraps at Famagusta Gate, Nicosia, and soon after he took them to the Kyrenia Castle. In July 1993, during a journey to Latin America, he realised the Praxis Osoguaico, in San Agustin, in the Andes of Colombia. Rinos’s most known Praxis is the installation Soldiers-Targets, which was shown at several places Cyprus and abroad, in different versions. In May 1994, during the exhibition of the Pan-Hellenic Art Symposium at Famagusta Gate in Nicosia, three of the Soldiers were stolen. This unprecedented incident fed the media with “polemic” material, and it elicited varied reactions from the Police, the Nicosia Municipality, the Chamber of Fine Arts and others. Only the Ministry of Education and Culture did not react. Among the most tragicomic aspects of this case were the various testimonies that Rinos had to give to the Police. Since then, the “Soldiers-Targets case” remains partly unsolved in the files of the Criminal Investigation Department, under record number Σ/744/94.
In the summer 1998, Rinos and myself in collaboration with other artists, created the big Sphere, out of trash on a shore of Akamas. I remember an incident in which some officers from the Forestry Department asked us to stop immediately “what we were doing” because we didn’t have permission to collect trash. Two years later, the same group of artists, made the installation sea@net, in a different part of Akamas.
In the summer of 2005, Rinos travelled to the Amazon River and realised the Praxis Amazon, in the area where three countries – Colombia, Peru and Brazil – meet.
The above are only some of the documented facts about the different Praxeis by Rinos Stefani. Each Praxis is accompanied by countless details, which perhaps constitute the real, dynamic relationship between the artwork and the public. And this is, I believe, the meaning of Praxeis – the redefinition of the relationship between the work of art and the viewer. Whereas many artists try to explain their work with texts and presentations, Rinos manages to involve the public in his Praxeis. He achieves this because he invents and uses ambiguous images, which are imbued with power, sarcasm and humour. (see Rinos Stefani Charcoal Project https://youtu.be/26sIAOI0mHc)
Text by visual artist Susan Vargas from the book “Rinos Stefani – Acrobats”, 2008