Unfinished Modernity
An Interview with the Suspended Spaces collective

by Cristelle Terroni , 7 April 2016
translated by Kate McNaughton
with the support of Institut français

Scattered all over the world are abandoned places, promises of modernity that history, economics or politics have shattered. The Suspended Spaces collective has undertaken to project the gaze of contemporary artists onto these ghostly spaces.

Created in 2007 and based in Paris, Suspended Spaces is a collective that brings together academics, artists and theoreticians around fragile and vulnerable spaces that have been abandoned by modernity. This collective is an organic structure, which calls on international academics and artists from different fields in accordance with the places it is travelling to.

The initial project started on the island of Cyprus, with the discovery of the town of Famagusta, whose Greek-Cypriot inhabitants were forcibly evacuated in 1974, as Turkey was taking control of the North of the island. Varosha, a huge modern district of Famagusta that used to be a touristic sea resort, has been guarded for 40 years by the Turkish army, and now appears in an empty and ghostly form to the gazes of those who manage to get close to it.

Famagusta II
Marcel Dinahet
Buffer zone
côté grec, Nicosie, Chypre

This strange town, removed from time and space, inspired the concept of “suspended spaces”: paradigmatic places, whose development was brutally stopped for political, economic or historical reasons, leaving behind abandoned buildings, an architectural modernity that is at once unfinished and yet already in ruins… The artists and theoreticians taking part in this project agree that these places inspire theoretical and artistic reflections that allow them to produce other forms of investigations.

For the past few years, Suspended Spaces has worked from several sites: Famagusta in Cyprus; the Tripoli International Fair in Lebanon, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the construction of which was interrupted by the war in 1975; the site of the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in the bay of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, also designed by the Brazilian architect. This research has successively been presented in the form of symposia (Amiens, Rennes, Beirut, Paris), residencies (Chypre, Caen, Amiens, Beyrouth, Niterói), artistic works, exhibitions (Amiens, Rennes, Niterói, Saint Ouen) and books (Suspended spaces #1: Famagusta, Suspended spaces #2 : Une expérience collective ; Suspended spaces #3 : Inachever la modernité).

Foire Internationale de Tripoli, Liban

Books and Ideas met the collective during the “Sortir de livre” exhibition that was organised in Mains d’Œuvres in Saint Ouen (from 3 September to 11 October 2015). The exhibition retrospectively examined the work accomplished over the past eight years, and aimed, as its title suggests, to highlight some of the artistic projects presented in the three books published to this day, to replay certain pieces that had been produced, but also to emphasise the artistic dimension of this research. In the video interviews below, Eric Valette and Françoise Parfait present the collective’s original ethos and its theoretical and artistic productions, in particular using as examples some of the works presented during “Sortir du livre”.

Curators of the exhibition by the Suspended spaces collective: Jan Kopp, Daniel Lê, Françoise Parfait, Eric Valette.

Interview #1:

Presentation of the collective by Eric Valette, member of the Suspended Spaces collective and senior lecturer in the Arts Faculty of Amiens (University of Picardie).

Interview #2

Françoise Parfait comments on several works from the Sortir du livre exhibition, Sept-Oct 2015, (Mains d’Oeuvres, Saint-Ouen). Françoise Parfait is a member of the Suspended Spaces collective and a professor of fine arts at Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. Images: A. Suhamy. Editing: C. Terroni.

Suspended Spaces has already published three books:

Suspended Spaces # - Famagusta
Suspended Spaces #2 - Une expérience collective
Suspended Spaces #3 -Inachever la modernité

by Cristelle Terroni, 7 April 2016

To quote this article :

Cristelle Terroni, « Unfinished Modernity. An Interview with the Suspended Spaces collective », Books and Ideas , 7 April 2016. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL :

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