Art and debate: the Gezi phenomena


First published in Today’s Zaman by Rumeysa Kiger, Istanbul, 25 June 2013

The Gezi protests, which have shaken Turkey for the past three weeks, have stirred up controversy in İstanbul art circles over the question of how these events will be reflected in the city’s numerous art galleries.

Some artists argue that it is inevitable that such major events will be reflected in the artwork created following them, while others are worried that the commercial art market will seek to exploit the issue and suggest that this should be discouraged from the very beginning.

Contemporary artist Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, who focuses on issues such as identity, memory and otherness in her work, says that these past few weeks have transformed every aspect of the protesters’ lives in addition to everyone’s way of seeing and experiencing the public sphere, both individually and socially.

Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, One Step Foreward, One Thousand Steps Back, 2012.

“The strength of the whole process has let creativity come to such a great level that it has crossed the borders of all means of artistic production and has become ‘art’ itself. Obviously this will have effects, and it will influence many, many artists’ ways of creating their art. This will have varying results based on their own experiences,” she said.

“After witnessing the strength of the whole resistance, I think it is necessary to question the role of art, one’s own way of seeing and approaching art production and how an artist should position himself or herself after such a life experience. I suppose from now on, this issue will be open to criticism, which I think is a natural process — to question things and the whole system of art. However, on the other hand, there is also the fact that many artists’ work, research and preferred subjects were based on social, cultural and political issues long before this movement,” Büyüktaşçıyan noted, adding that during the days of the protests, many artists saw things in real life that they had previously only researched and thought about.

In Situ by Hera Büyüktaşçıyan at PiST


Video artist Zeyno Pekünlü, who focuses on matters such as nationality, citizenship, manhood and womanhood in her work, says she has always believed there is a difference between using politics as subject matter in one’s art and one’s art being influenced by one’s own political stance.

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Don’t let anyone hear! by Zeyno Pekünlü – B&W video, 2’10’’, 2012

Extract: https://vimeo.com/65629822

“During the Gezi Park resistance, for many people the distance they had from active politics evaporated very quickly. The days of resistance were days that were faster, more surprising and fascinating than art. I believe the important thing now is to ask if it is possible to ask a new question, bring a new suggestion, create a new debate or contribute with a new critical ground to these ‘weird’ days through art, rather than asking where or how the artworks related to the Gezi resistance should be showcased,” she stressed.


… read the whole article on Art news from Istanbul by Rumeysa Kiger

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