A protest art exhibition is on display in Turkey.
In the wake of growing religious despotism in Turkey, it’s become necessary to defend nudity in art. With support from the Institut Français, poet, novelist and curator Cüneyt Ayral is protesting the oppressive regime by organizing an international photography exhibition at the Pyramid Art Gallery, which was founded in Istanbul by artist, writer, and activist Bedri Baykam.
- Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
- Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
- Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
- Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
- Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.
In the last decade under Erdoğan’s regime, even art departments have become censored. Nude sculptures have been removed from gardens and university halls.
“Art has included nudity since its earliest days. The human body is probably the most beautiful thing created by nature. Yet some people not only refrain from seeing a naked body in art, but they try to cover the human body almost totally. So, in contrast to that approach, I wished to prepare this exhibition: TOTALLY NAKED.”
Thus speaks curator Cüneyt Ayral, who lives in Paris. His invitation to the exhibition alludes to the fact that almost all the sculptures in Paris streets depict naked bodies, and hardly anyone is offended or sexually provoked by them. Such sculptures give us aesthetic pleasure.
Totally Naked consists of forty-nine photographs. With the exception of Baykam’s work, the photos measure 70×100 cm and are presented without frames: totally naked.
The exhibition is planned for Feb 26 – March 29, 2015.
Photographers from Europe, Asia, and the United States are participating, including: Uwe Ommer from Germany, Philippe Deutsch, Damien Guillaume, and Arto Pazat from France, Tetsuro Higashi from Japan, Hugh Holland from the USA, and Bedri Baykam, Erden Cantürk and Koray Erkaya from Turkey.
Higashi, Deutsch, Guillaume, and Ommer will join the Turkish artists at the opening on Thursday, February 26th.
All the art from the exhibition is included in the catalog, prepared in Turkish, French and English.
The Joël Person composition L’insurrection, with Séverine Enjolras as model, in charcoal and gouache on paper, is published with Ayral’s presentation.
Poet Devrim Bağcan’s essay, entitled Totally Naked, is a colorful piece, interweaving history and culture, as well as a humorous self-reflection.
Art for Freedom
One may say that Turkey is “still” different from Saudi Arabia and Iran. After all, an exhibition of nude photography is “still” possible. Theoretically and legally, that is true. But at present, such an initiative is a significant challenge, accompanied by courage and di/stress, with the possibility of attracting “unpleasant” feedback.
In times of oppression, almost everything becomes political.