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A factual report of our performance / intervention in Warsaw Uprising Museum and Frontex. This document also holds factual reaction and confrontation with museum guards and securities of Frontex or perhaps BNP PARIBASAS security service.
By Ehsan Fardjadniya, a member of the performance group.
On August 3rd, 2016 our performance took place at around 14:00 hours in the Warsaw Uprising Museum, Grzybowska 79, Wola district, Warsaw, Poland.
Our performance and intervention starts. Dorian Batycka and Ehsan Fardjadniya place flyers, a contemporary call for uprising with a similar large header saying POLACY! Refugees and Citizens, in flyer and text holders in the museum. By now they have done about two or three flyer holders. The guards and museum invigilators immediately recognize the new flyers. One of them looks at it and loudly says: “Rosa Luxemburg, kurwa” and walks quickly towards the office. The other invigilators start going through the flyer holders, looking for our flyers and take them out. They also look at the flyers that the member of public have in their hand and ask them to give it back.
Video still. By Ehsan Fardjadniya
We go to the printing workshop, where they print the original call for uprising 1944, and place our contemporary version in between the originals.
Video still. Video by Dorian Batycka.
Refugee and Citizen
The fight for the liberation of our capital has begun!
The inhabitants of Warsaw, both newcomers and those who have lived here for a while already, are all fed up with the wild waves of fascism coming back to this country, currently not from outside, but from the inside of the very core of this country – its citizens.
If the victims of the antifascist fights from the past are to be respected, resistance to fascism today is essential. The voices of the refugees, the antifascists, the citizens and those who come here for long or short time, need to unite and oppose the intolerant, repressive and racist voices of the contemporary authorities and Poles seduced by the fake promises leading to exclusion and marginalization of the Europe’s Others.
Rosa Luxemburg, the “unwanted” theorist and activist both in her lifetime and after her death, used to say that disappointment is a sentiment unavailable for those truly oppressed. We – the refugees, precarious workers, queers and women are not to be misguided by the fake logic of “success.” We are not here to win, but to change: the social structure, the political ideas and their articulation, the production and redistribution of goods, the imagination.
We need to de-petrify our imagination. Our dreams and political visions have for too long been adjusted to the Fortress Europe narrative with its racist and exclusive politics.
If there is – as Walter Benjamin suggested – a pact between the past and contemporary generations, today it consists on such a transformation of the social, in which art and politics should be working for the new assemblies, de-fascisation of society. The experiences of today’s oppressed – refugees, queers, women and workers — are much better guidelines for such a transformation, than the bureaucratic tables of incomes and costs, applied to all sectors of our lives.
The masses of workers – peasants, proletarians, intelligentsia who fought in 1944 against the fascism, are the precarious workers, activists, marginalized artists, refugees, migrants and all those who are continually excluded on the margins. This is a call for all of oppressed to come together and form a UNION. A UNION for EQUALITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE! A UNION of marginalized, oppressed citizens and REFUGEES!
LONG LIVE EMANCIPATION FROM NATIONALISM
Anonymous Stateless Immigrants Collective
Warsaw, date 3 August 2016
On the third floor of the museum there is a big collection of guns. One of the guns on display can be touched. The members of public can engage it and push the trigger and it would release and make a noise.
Here the first performance happens. Dorian Batycka is the first to perform, enacting movement emphasizing feelings of trauma and PTSD, he goes down on his knees, and puts his forehead on the ground, gyrating as if he was in intense pain. This performative intervention is meant to criticize the themes of violence encountered in the installation. He seems sick and traumatized but he doesn’t make any noise or doesn’t say anything.
Video still. Video by Ehsan Fardjadniya
Members of the public show concerns. A security guard approaches him, bends over and asks him what is going on and how he feels.
Several more museum vacillators gather around him. He is still on the ground feeling sick and traumatized with his head on the ground. They bring him glass of water. He slowly stands up. They asked him if he wanted to go out and get some fresh air. He agrees and they walked with him to the garden of the museum.
In the garden he explains that the display of violence and the guns made him sick and traumatized. His knees fell weak, he couldn’t stand on his legs anymore and he fainted.
The curator of the museum is present right now. He asks her to talk to the director. She says he is at a TV interview. He asks her why such an overwhelming violence is present at the museum? He says although he understands that the uprising was crushed violently, he still doesn’t understand why the contemporary wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and NATO trainings are on display at the museum. He asks why there is no room for peace in the museum. The curator gives him her email address for further correspondence.
On the second floor of the museum, Łukasz Wójcicki dramatically bends over on the ground, holding one of his hands on the brick wall, he starts crying. Again the members of the public show concern. Few bent over to talk to him. Few invigilators and the guards start running towards him. This time, they forcefully make him stand up. They hold him firmly under his shoulders and make him walk quickly towards the emergency exit of the museum.
Ehsan Farjadniya goes back to the printing room. The members of printing workshop aren’t there and the print machines standing still. There are still few members of the public in the room. He starts mixing our flyers with the original one. Exactly at the moment, when he is done, a person that seems like one of the printing assistances approaches him and starts talking in polish to him and shows the flyers. He keeps talking with an angry and panicking voice and takes our flyers out. Fardjadniya denies having done anything and walks out of the room. About a minute later a guy is running to him and in polish asks him something. He is holding in his hands many flyers. He switches to English and asks if the flyers are his and if he was putting them around. Fardjadniya denies his involvement and keeps looking at his mobile. The museum staff is not wearing any museum card batch or security uniform. Fardjadniya still acts normally; he says he doesn’t know the flyer. He keeps looking at his mobile and walks his way. After few meter Fardjadniya realizes that the guy is following him. He keeps walking through the museum and the other guy is still following him. He goes to the floor with the contemporary version of war and NATO trainings. He enters a dark room with three videos of contemporary war with solders and helicopters shooting. He starts filming with his mobile and knows that the other guy is outside the room waiting for him. He comes out of the room with his recording video still on and start filming the guy that follows him. He asks him: ’Are you following me?’ He, who suddenly starts talking to the phone, shakes his hand and says no and starts walking away with collection of our flyers in his hands. At this moment the performer is following him with his camera still on. After few minutes he stops following him, while other museum invigilators and guards walking panicky around him. He decides to walk towards the exit of the museum and in a minute he is out.
Around 15:30 p.m.
Aleka Polis falls on the ground with a panic in a dark room on the second floor with displays of gun shuts and flashing lights. She is taken immediately up from the ground by guards and walked quickly outside the museum.
Around 15:40 p.m.
Edka Jarząb plays a sound recording from a Bluetooth speaker device that she brought with her. The audio is a text by her, describing her repetitive childhood dream of being shot on the head from the back during the uprising. Right now she, by herself already feels truly sick and decides to walk out of the museum.
All of our members exit the museum of Warsaw Uprising. Next to our car we are hugging and talking about what happened.
We take a child size coffin outside our car and start the march to Frontex office, a few hundred meters away from the Warsaw Uprising Museum. We are humming a Jewish mourning song. Our two females members are walking in front and we, four males, are following them.
Funeral march from Warsaw Uprising Museum toward Frontex office. Photo by Sebastian Cichocki
Performance in front of Frontex
The group crosses the street and approach the high buildings and Frontex and BNP PARIBASAS security service office. About 6 to 7 security guards with two different uniforms start mobilizing with some of them on Segways and others on foot. We’re approximately in 400 meters distance to the entrance gate of the Frontext office. We’re humming and singing the song and holding the coffin on our shoulders.
Approaching Frontex office Funeral March. Photo by Sebastian Cichocki
The security guards confront the performers physically and try to break up the line. They grab the coffin and try to take it away. The performers then put the coffin down and form a circle around the coffin. In that few seconds, the security and performers form a circle around the coffin. One of the security guards takes the coffin violently from its side handle and walks out of the circle. His colleague takes the other side-handle and they walk quickly couple of hundred meters away and put the coffin on few concrete block. During this time, the performers continue to peacefully sing and hum, following the coffin as it is pulled away by security. Several of the performers then pull phones to start filming the security guards. The security guards try to physically stop them, even going so far as to attempt to take several of their phones physically from their hands. The security guards are mounted on Segues and mobilize around the group. The security firm was called: WARSAW SPIRE.
At this moment they are about 6 to 7 or maybe more. They look quite angry and trying to block us physically. By now we almost reach the coffin. One of the guards snatches the coffin form its side-handle and gives it over to his colleague on a Segway. He, holding the coffin from the side-handle goes fast on his Segway towards the back of the office building.
The performers again follow the coffin, peacefully marching and moving towards where the guards have hidden it. They march slowly, humming and singing songs. They turn around and encounter the building and find out that the coffin is situated behind a pillar next to the garage gate of the office on the address PL. EUROPEJSKI 1,2,6. The security continues to march towards the coffin. At this moment the security guards exercise more violence and physically stop them from walking any further towards the coffin and begin physically accosting the performers. Again, they attempt to stop the filming of their actions by the performers. Ehsan shout’s out: “ leave my mobile. Leave my mobile alone.” The security then becomes more physically aggressive pushing the performers back and shouting: “We are calling the police, they are coming.” The performers respond: “let’s call it off. We’re leaving,” and begin to walk away.
Physical involvement of security guards in front of Frontex office. Photo by Sebastian Cichocki
Next, the security guards prevent the group from leaving. Two of them start surrounding Fardjadniya as he tries to walk away, making it impossible. They prevent him by physically pulling his arms and pushing against his chest. Fardjadniya tries to continue walking but is blocked. He says: “ let me go, I’m leaving, I’m done with my performance. I need to leave now.” But they keep him tight.
Security guards detaining Ehsan Fardjadniya. Photo by Sebastian Cichocki
Now the group has stopped singing and is moving further away from the security. The two guards then grab Fardjadniya by the shoulders and start pushing him towards a door next to the garage gates. They open the door and push him inside, forcibly confining him against his will.
Security guards detaining Ehsan Fardjadniya and forcefully pushing him into a building. Photo by Sebastian Cichocki
Fardjadniya is now inside the building behind the close door. One of the security guards is sweating a lot and seems very panicked. He talks in very fast Polish to Fardjadniy, who is unable to understand or communicate with him. Fardjadniya tells the guard he cannot speak Polish. He repeats: “Let me go”, “You can’t hold me inside”, “I need to go.” Fardjadniya tries to walk away but the security continues to push him back. He decides to stay and not use any physical contact. After a couple of minutes, one of them leaves and the other one stay between the door and Fardjadniya, again preventing him from leaving. He repeatedly tells the other security guard: “Let me go. You can’t keep me inside. Open the door. I need fresh air.”
He continues this for couple of minutes then Fardjadniya starts becoming afraid of what can happen at this moment. His fear was mostly because at that moment anything could happen and no one will be there to witness. Several people pass in the corridor, which makes Fardjadniya even more nervous. These people have no uniforms and don’t make eye contact with him. This continues for approximately 10 minutes.
The panicked security guy comes back talking in Polish with the other guard and Fardjadniya keeps repeating: “let me go out” and makes one-step forwards. They push him back with their hands against his chest and talk in Polish. The panicked security guard leaves again and Fardjadniya is alone again with the same security guard, the whole time he keeps repeating that he needs to go out: “Ok, at least open the door I really need fresh air,” and the guard ignores him.
Ehsan takes out his mobile and the security again tries to snatch it out of his hand.
Ehsan says: “ What is the problem? I didn’t do anything illegal, I was singing a song and I’m peaceful.” He says: “ We are fighting for this country but you are messing it up” to which Ehsan replies: “Why are you fighting? With who are you fighting? I’m not fighting. I’m peaceful, just singing a song. Is that illegal?” Ehsan keeps repeating to please let him out.
Next, another guard comes in together with the panicked one and Ehsan keeps repeatedly asking if he can exit. Now they let him stand in front of the door. A few of them are surrounding him. Ehsan says: “Can I smoke?” “Yes, ok”.
The police enter and start talking with the others in the performance. The situation calms down. One of the undercover security members from the museum suddenly appears and charges Dorian with calling the ambulance. Dorian denies calling the ambulance.
The police officers, about 4 or 5 of them, seem calmed and relaxed. They are checking the ID cards of the performers on their devices. They ask Ehsan if he has an ID card. Ehsan does not.
They instruct him to go to the police station, whilst Dorian and Lukas go back to retrieve his documents. Together with Ewa Majewska, Ehsan goes to the police station to await the delivery of his documents.
The police officers says: “let him know that we aren’t taking him to the office because of his skin colour but because he doesn’t have any ID card with him.”
Ehsan arrives at the police office and smokes a cigarette with Ewa outside before entering. After entering they ask him to scan both his index fingers on a device. He complies, asking that this fingerprint will not be kept in their database. The police comply and inform Ehsan that these fingerprints will not be kept in their database. In a few minutes the device say that he has not outstanding warrants or convictions or terrorist associations.
There is a conversation happening between Ewa and the police officer and she tries to translate it to Ehsan. It is mostly about the rights of European citizens in regards with holding ID cards and about him being at the police office and the reasons why. Ehsan says: “Please translate for me that the police behaviour seems respectful and following the laws, however controversial those might be, but the security guards had no right to detain me behind a closed door. Why didn’t they hold other members of our group and only me? Is it because of how I look like?” The police officers, in sum, say that he understands “that in democratic state everyone has the right to fight for his or her cause but due to the global war on ‘terror’ and current emergencies the security held me due to certain assumptions.”
The other police officer comes by with a copy of the flyer distributed in the Museum of Uprising and begins to question Ehsan about it. He says he checked online and on a website there is a call for repetition of the same actions. They ask Ehsan if this is accurate. He denies this, stating he knows nothing about a call for a repeated actions of this supposed website. Ehsan ads that there is no intention of repeating the actions.
Ehsan then asks to sit down due to cramping in his legs. The officers show Ewa and Ehsan the door next to us. This room contains jail cells and there is a little space in front of the bars with a few chars. The officer suggests we can sit there. Ehsan declines to sit in this area.
The officers are calm and profession. Ehsan and Ewa ask for water, none is provided, they instead go out for a noter cigarette. Dorian arrives with Lukas with Ehsan’s passport a few minutes later and he is released from custody.
Below is Ehsan’s personal statement about his detainment:
Here I like to declare my complaint about the extreme and what I claim, the racist behaviour of security guards toward me. I think they had no right to stop me using physical forces, especially when I decided to leave the location of performance; this is while the rest of my group is leaving. I also think that they have no right to forcefully detain me behind a close door. The fact that they only select, separate and detained me, is due to their presumption that I belong to certain radical middle-east groups only due to my skin colour and the way I look. I did not do anything more or different than the rest of my group who were not detained. Therefore I only can conclude the racist behaviour of the security guards and find it necessary to declare an official complaint to anti-racists organizations in Poland or/and in Europe.
Ehsan Fardjadniya, 4th August 4, 2016, Warsaw.
In this open letter to the director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the Cc group raises questions surrounding an undisclosed box of official papers in the BALTIC archive. This box of papers documents a series of activities that led to the Arts Council of England’s decision to remove the High Bridge property and all revenue funding from the Waygood Gallery and Studios, choosing instead to transfer these assets over to BALTIC. From the type of documents in the box it could be argued that the unconventional transfer of control of these buildings and revenue assets from one arts organisation to another, reveals a culture of vested interests and unaccountability, compounded by a lack of transparency that appears to govern so much of the publicly funded arts. Cc are presenting the case in this open letter, that the public interest is best served if these documents, in this particular box, are made accessible to the public by BALTIC via their B+ archive.
The main issues targeted by Tanja Ostojić’s art project, affected by the censorship, just to list some, are: politics of language, no access to high culture for minorities and working class, no access to museum collections for former Yugoslavian and former Eastern European artists, de-politicization of topical political issues via the exhibition program, neoliberal exhibition production.
In regard to the exhibition GAST/ARBEITER (Working title?)
that is supposed to be opened around July 5, 2016 in the
freiraum Q21 exhibition space in MQ Vienna, Austria
exhibition curator Bogomir Doringer
Artists withdrawing from participation in the exhibition: Tanja Ostojić (Berlin/Belgrade) and Alexander Nikolić with his Verein BOEM Vienna.
Statement by Tanja Ostojić
As of May 25, 2016, and regarding the censorship of my art work, the non-transparent exhibition concept, the non-transparent exhibition budget, the neoliberal exhibition production, the non professional treatment and constant demands for reframing and changes to my art work, I have resigned from my participation in the exhibition GAST/ARBEITER (Working title?) that is supposed to open around July 5, 2016 in the freiraum Q21 exhibition space in MQ Vienna, Austria. Strangely, I can´t precisely name either the name of the exhibition or the venue, as they seem to be in the process of being renamed.
This is not the first censorship of my artworks in Vienna. Many might remember the removal of my art work Untitled / After Courbet (L´origine du monde, 46 x 55 cm), 2004 (Colour photo, 46 x 55 cm , Photo: David Rych, Copyright: Ostojić/ Rych) from the rotating billboards in the public spaces in Vienna as of December 29, 2005. Back then, the yellow press created a scandal and politicians made pressures on exhibition curators to take my work out of the exhibition in public space. So the curators followed the instructions of the politicians…
This time, I am not sure what kind of mechanisms have been applied in the background of the attempts to censor my art work. The curator seemed to be optimistic and sympathetic with my concept proposal at first, but after while he would always come up (after consultation with those responsible in the gallery which is a extremely representative space politically) with demands to reframe my work and insisted on limiting it to the gallery space solely. No publicity! Even though I was promised space for the work that has a form of the exhibition posters on the outside door of the gallery and in newspapers as an ad at first, it was forbidden some weeks later.
I think it is important to mention that the curator never sent the written concept of the exhibition, nor the conditions of my participation, nor the budget frame. All the communication happened through Facebook chats and Skype talks. Once I sent my written project proposal to the curator, the head of the gallery and the Initiative Minderheiten (my proposal of a partner institution), the curator got angry. He said I should have sent it only to him, and only after he found out if he could finance it, he would communicate it with others. Everything was based on secrecy and non-transparency.
I even learned by chance that the minister of interior affairs, Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian politician who advocates strongly for closed borders and harsher immigration laws, is a speaker at the opening. The whole event seems to be more like a bad PR Campaign idea than something critical. I believe that as participating artist I should have the right to know what are political goals of the show that I was invited to be part of, right?
And so this censorship in Q21 is partly the result of political issues and partly of neoliberal exhibition production where they don´t offer anything to the artist anymore, but they still want to have the glamour.. a SHOW…
The topic I have dealt with is one of the major problems in Austrian culture that includes segregation, especially regarding the former Yugoslavian and Turkish populations..
Main issues, just to list some, are: no access to high culture for minorities and working class, no access to museum collections for former Yugoslavian and former Eastern European artists, politics of language, de-politicization of burning political issues via the exhibition program, neoliberal exhibition production..
First, my artwork concept proposed a cultural project on a large scale dealing with the politics of language, access to culture, access to cultural institutions, access to museum collections, and the initiation of language pluralism in Austria, etc.. — involving ministries and museums. However, the Austrian minister of culture himself told me already in January (over an informal conversation at the MQ New Year Party) that there was NO WAY. All “immigrants have to learn German and integrate”, there will be no museum signs and no guided tours in our languages. For the campaign that I wanted to initiate on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the agreement for recruiting and placement of guest workers between Yugoslavia and Austria, the curator told me (in the name of hosting institution Q21) — they cannot finance and cannot support in any way, not even with infrastructure. And so this campaign I had to reframe into my own performance work that would be in the same time training for local museum guiding tours in Serbian and familiar languages to run all along the summer.
Several weeks after this strategy was defined and decided for, the curator informed me that it´s out of the budget limits. They can´t pay for my trip, they can´t cover fees for the people involved (as I insisted that students giving the guiding tours should not be volunteers, etc.) Those critical guided tours would for example explain what positions from the so called ex-Yugoslav art are missing in Viennese Museum collections.
So the only thing that has left after the “plan A” and “plan B” was to go for a strategy of political scandal. Create 3 posters in 3 languages —
As the one I have attached that are using some of my well known works just as an illustration. If you carefully read the text you can understand hopefully that it is a poster with a new work that is not a part of MUMOK‘s feminist collection. There is NO art from ex-Yugoslavia that is a part of MUMOK‘s feminist collection by the way… And there is NO guided tours unfortunately provided by any instance in Vienna in Serbian, Romani, Bosnian, Slovenian, Croatian, Macedonian, Albanian and Montenegrin languages (Sundays in Viennese museums). And not to mention that the ministries and institutions I listed are not marking in a proper way, but are rather ignoring this anniversary and the fact that over 30% of the Viennese population speaks Serbian and only signage on public toilets can be found in this language!!!.)
The curator, claimed all the time that there is no budget for anything. No artist fees, no production, no travel costs, nothing. I presume, but I can not confirm, that most of the exhibition budget, that is too small anyway, has been spent on the curator‘s own travel costs. He travels a lot, you know. And a lot has been maybe spent on his own art production?
It became a problem as well that my posters were supposed to hang in front of the gallery and to be published in magazines, not even as a sponsored ad.. I was not allowed to use logos of venues mentioned in my ad and media that would fit the concept. The organizers and curator did not even contact any of institutions nor media that I asked that we need as project partners. And they said posters can´t hang outside. They said they don´t have money for newspaper and magazine ads. They prohibited I use the logos of institutions as part of my concept. Imagine, the curator also refused to print posters inside the gallery in the size the graphic designer and I proposed. The curator said the size of my posers will depend on the exhibition design and the budget(!), which I thought was disrespectful to my artistic concept. In my opinion the art work comes before the exhibition design and before politicians who censor exhibitions and give problematic opening speeches.
My concept was too critical and that´s why it didn’t fit in the exhibition. I got the impression the curator was very scared of it and the venue itself.
All in all, for all the critical projects that were proposed (including the seminar that has been canceled as well!!!) they claimed there was no budget. Even though people already invested time in planing, preparing, etc.. Very strange, as we were planning and preparing projects for a long time, myself for instance for 5 months..always reframing it for less budget, and less.. of course no artist fees were available, etc..
Statement by Alexander Nikolić:
Boem was also asked to exhibit, and the curator visited us in our gallery. He explained a little bit of the exhibition, that he is interested only in new works, and that he would love our participation, but during that talk – he explained to us that he has no production money; all the production money would be reserved for the visiting artists, as he aimed to open up and re-interpret the term “gastarbeiter.”(migrant workers) We rejected this idea, because it blurred the history of migrant workers, covered up the two class society and presented Austria as an open, cosmopolite society – conscious of its past, an image which totally contradicts the actual political reality.
Statement by Julia Zaharijević who was supposed to be employed for this exhibition and in the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s project
“I would like to share my case related to the same exhibition. Namely, the curator invited me to participate in the show, to do something with guided tours. He mentioned a couple of times that I would work with Tanja Ostojić on free exhibition guided tours in the Serbian language, as far as I know. However, this was never confirmed, but I would like to add that I know the curator personally, so the fact that the tone sounded more informal was OK to me. The first time we met he said that there was not enough money for the collaboration with Tanja Ostojić. Then, I was invited to work as an exhibition guard and be payed 8 Euro per hour, (max 400 Euro per month), and during my job to also somehow perform. After the talk with Q21, I was turned down, because I am a Serbian citizen and they were not going to issue me a working permit, as they don’t do that, I quote: “für Serbien und so…” (“for Serbia and so…”)”
English translation of the poster
The City of Vienna, The Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria, frei_raum Q21, MQ, MUMOK, Museum of Natural History and the ERSTE Foundation
Are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the agreement for recruiting and placement of guest workers between Yugoslavia and Austria
with the exclusive purchase of several major feminist artworks by Serbian renowned artist Tanja Ostojić, that have had a deep influence on Austrian contemporary art histories. Works have been purchased for the MUMOK feminist collection.
Please join artist talks and free guided tours in Serbian, Romani, Bosnian, Slovenian, Croatian, Macedonian, Albanian and Montenegrin languages every Sunday at all of the above listed museums and galleries!
Media partners: Kosmo, an-schläge, springerin, Camera Austria
Untitled / After Courbet (L´origine du monde, 46 x 55 cm), 2004
Colour photo, 46 x 55 cm
Photo: David Rych
For more background on this case please read “Post-Peace” exhibition cancelled in Istanbul.
For the past five years I have had a great pleasure to witness the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition evolve into a strong international curatorial platform. Over the years I have developed the structure of the competition and coordinate the jury and the reviewers of the applications during the lengthy review process. During my tenure as a coordinator I have been appointed on a project-based and have not been employed as a staff member of Akbank Sanat (I need to state this due to some speculation as to my position within the organizational structure of the hosting institution).
Following the cancellation of the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2015, I invested a great deal of my time to help in assisting the situation. I offered my time to discuss the situation with representatives from the institution and with the 2015 laureate Katia Krupennikova, curator of the exhibition Post-Peace and the jury. I tried my best to find constructive solutions by (1) discussing the cancelation and what lead to it with the curator and the institution; (2) following the failure to reinstate the exhibition, and subsequent consultations with the curator, to help find other alternative solutions to showing the exhibition in its entirety or separate presentations of individual works in various other venues and contacting some of them; and (3) proposing to discuss issues and responsibilities of exhibition making, curatorship, and art production with other media.
Unfortunately and despite my best efforts, I did not succeed. The destructive tone in the reactions of all involved along with the accusations and the lack of clarity persistent throughout. Under the present circumstances, both my efforts and the goal of the competition have become pointless. Therefore, I decided to relinquish my involvement with the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition and I have informed the organization of my decision. With this statement, I would also like to inform the public as well that I am deeply sorry to witness the loss of all the accumulative effort that was built collectively over the years.
I am very grateful to Jack Persekian, Francis McKee, Anne Barlow, Christine Tohme, Branko Franceschi, Susanne Pfeffer, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Sam Bardaouil, Till Fellrath, Bassam El Baroni, Paul O’Neill, Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ for having served as jury members and given their incredible input and knowledge in making this award a respected international opportunity for emerging curators. I also would like to thank Duygu Demir, H.G. Masters, Leonardo Bigazzi, Yane Calovski, Tina Sherwell, Ece Pazarbasi, Annie Belz, Stephanie Bailey and .vül Ö. Durmuşoğlu for their invaluable involvement and participation in the early stages as reviewers of the applications. Last but not least, I am very honored to have had the opportunity to experience the exciting proposals of the selected winners Alejandra Labastida (2012), Franz Thalmair (2013), Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk (2014), and Katia Krupennikova (2015) and the large number of artists involved in their remarkable projects. I am also thankful to Akbank Sanat for supporting and hosting this project all through these years.
Başak Şenova, organizer of the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition
As former jury members and reviewers of the International Curators Competition at the Akbank Sanat in Istanbul, we would like to acknowledge and state our support of Basak Senova and her decision to effectively end her tenure as its coordinator. As a colleague of great integrity and an acute sense of fairness, Basak Senova has tried to come up with a productive solution to save the competition she initiated in 2012. We want to underline that solidarity between curators and cultural workers is very important and, in context of this unfortunate outcome of such worthy international project, it becomes even crucial.
Jury and Reviewers of Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition (worked between 2011-2015): Jack Persekian, Francis Mckee, Branko Franceschi, Anne Barlow, Christine Tohme, Susanne Pfeffer, Sam Bardaouil, Till Fellrath, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Paul O’neill, Bassam El Baroni, Hans D. Christ, Iris Dressler, Duygu Demir, HG Masters, Leonardo Bigazzi, Tina Sherwell, Övül Ö. Durmusoglu, Ece Pazarbaşı, Annie Belz, Stephanie Bailey, and Yane Calovski.
Open Letter – 11 May 2016
It was my intention for a long time to publish a statement about the censorship of my video Ayhan and me (2016), part of the group exhibition Post-Peace that was censored by Akbank Sanat. When the exhibition was censored, I wanted to prioritize the group statement of the collaborators and artists of the exhibition. The group statement is out, and it’s now my turn. I would like this statement to be seen as a contribution to the statements made by Katia Krupennikova, the curator of the show (http://bit.ly/21CBqUy); the jury of the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2015 (http://bit.ly/23tKRVu); Anonymous Stateless Immigrants Movement (http://bit.ly/24B03Tp); and the artist and contributors of the exhibition Post-Peace (http://bit.ly/1Ygs1zS). With this statement, I aim to share my own experience.
I am the only artist from Turkey that was supposed to take part in the group exhibition Post-Peace. My initial proposal was specifically about Turkey. This proposal went through a censorship process starting months before the originally planned opening date. I’d like to share my experience with the hope that it will shed a little bit of light on the censorship that of the exhibition itself and the problem of censorship in the art field more generally.
The group exhibition Post-Peace was initially planned to take place in Amsterdam. I was invited by the curator at this early stage. Later on, with this exhibition concept Katia Krupennikova applied for and won the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2015. The exhibition moved from Amsterdam to Istanbul. In one of the talks Katia had with Akbank Sanat managers in November 2015, she mentioned to them my proposal. They told Katia that the political situation in Turkey is tense, and that they can not commission the proposed work. Katia asked for an official statement from the director of Akbank Sanat, Derya Bigalı. She didn’t receive a reply. I met Katia when she came back to Amsterdam. We wrote together to Zeynep Arınç from Akbank Sanat, with whom Katia has been in contact throughout the process. We asked for a formal rejection letter from the director, explaining the reasons for their decision. Zeynep Arınç replied to our email informally telling Katia that Akbank Sanat can not commission this work.
My initial work proposal, censored by Akbank Sanat, was about Ayhan Çarkın. Ayhan Çarkın was part of JITEM, an unofficial paramilitary wing of the Turkish Security Forces active in mass executions of the Kurdish population in the 1990s. As a part of the deep state and JITEM, Ayhan Çarkın confessed in 2011 that he led operations that killed over 1000 Kurdish people during the 1990s. These confessions were made on television, and videos from those confessions are accessible on Youtube. The work I was planning to make was about Ayhan Çarkın’s personal transformation, how historical reality is constructed, and how to think about the term ‘evil’. This work, which was only a written proposal at that point, was censored by Akbank Sanat, even though it was part of the curator’s exhibition concept from the very beginning, and was chosen by an international jury as part of the exhibition for Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2015.
This was the first time something like this had happened to me. Instead of leaving the exhibition, Katia and I came up with a proposal for a new work. The new work was going to talk about the censorship of my previous proposal, as well as the politics of images of war in Turkey. Akbank Sanat requested to see the script of this new work. Katia didn’t respond to this request, and I told her that I’m not in favor of showing the script, due to Akbank Sanat’s attitude up till that point. Consequently we asked the founder of the Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition, curator Başak Şenova, for her opinion on this issue. At first she supported us, but after she consulted with Akbank Sanat she told us that the refusal by Akbank Sanat is understandable. To be honest these reactions made me feel alone. Turkey is really going through a tough period, and I started questioning why, as an artist, I was putting the whole institution at risk…?
In December before I started producing my second proposal I realized that I did not feel comfortable with accepting the situation as it was. I decided to make the censorship public, by writing a letter and sending it to the press. I met with Katia and we started writing an email explaining the situation to the jury. In mid January, before we finalized the letter, Katia told me that she talked to Akbank Sanat and they agreed to the new proposal and no longer demanded to see the script in advance. I started making the video. I got in contact with Siyah Bant, a group that deals with censorship in the field of art in Turkey. I got a lot of support from them, which helped against the feeling of isolation such censorship cases cause. Also, we started thinking about ways to deal with this specific case. The final video took shape as a result of this process. I believe watching the video complements this statement.
Ayhan and me: vimeo.com/belit/ayhanveben
The video was finalized on the 23rd of February, and Katia Krupennikova presented all the works to Akbank Sanat for technical check on the same day. The exhibition was supposed to open on the 1st of March, and it was cancelled/censored on the 25th of February. There was no exhibition announcement on Akbank Sanat’s website or social media accounts, or there was any exhibition poster at Akbank Sanat’s space at any point. This makes me think that Akbank Sanat has been considering this decision for a long time, but didn’t communicate it to the curator or any other contributor of the show.
I don’t know and will never get definite confirmation whether the cancellation of Post-Peace was related to the content of my work or not. However this does not change what happened. Together with Siyah Bant we prepared a press release explaining the censorship prior to the cancellation of the exhibition. Even if the exhibition had not been cancelled, I was planning to publicize my experience of Akbank Sanat’s censorship.
In the 90s, Akbank Sanat hosted a painting exhibition by Kenan Evren. Kenan Evren is the leader of the 1980 coup d’etat in Turkey. Akbank Sanat has had several censorship cases in its history. Akbank Sanat gave Kenan Evren the possibility to exhibit his work as an ‘artist’, without questioning his leading role in the 1980 coup, from which the country still suffers. Akbank Sanat has never taken responsibility for this exhibition nor the role they took in it and what it means for Turkey. I do not believe that Akbank Sanat has or aims to acquire the ethical and conceptual capacity to host any exhibitions. The Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition that they have sponsored for the past four years is an important award in the international art world, which gives them a prestige they do not deserve.
At this point I have a number of questions to ask:
– Why does Akbank Sanat have the right to bypass the jury of Akbank Sanat International Curator Competition 2015 and the originally accepted plan of the exhibition? As mentioned in Başak Şenova’s statement following the cancellation: “Afterwards, Akbank Sanat unquestioningly implements all aspects of the exhibition” – (http://bit.ly/24ycFhr)
– How does Akbank Sanat position itself in relation to the jury of the Competition, the founding curator, the curator, and the artists of the exhibition?
– Why didn’t Akbank Sanat discuss the possibility of canceling the exhibition together with the curator, the artists and the jury prior to the cancellation? Why does Akbank Sanat take decisions from the top, thereby marginalizing the contributors and blocking their participation in decision-making mechanisms concerning the very exhibition they have been commissioned to make?
Institutions like Akbank Sanat will not admit that they censored the content of any exhibition, and will not take responsibility for the situation. These institutions interfere with cultural content due to their connections to corporations and banks, allied with oppressive government policies. This paves the way for normalizing censorship and abusing the political situation of the country as an excuse, as in the text explaining the cancellation by the director of Akbank Sanat (“Turkey is still reeling from their emotional aftershocks and remains in a period of mourning.”). I believe we need to expose these government-allied mentalities and structures over and over again. Institutions like Akbank Sanat can continue their activities, because every time they censor the cultural arena they get away with it; their acts are not revealed, they are not held accountable, and they continue to receive support. Letting this happen deserts the fields of culture and art, and distances them from the struggles going on in the country. At the same time, this acceptance and silence obstructs those people and institutions that bravely resist, and further restricts already shrinking zones of freedom. We, as cultural and art workers, can counter this by refusing to accept the silencing of artistic expression.
Any cultural and art worker who is ignorant of the ongoing oppression in Turkey, who does not call censorship by its name, who does not see or fails to recognize the ongoing massacres in Kurdish lands becomes part of this oppressive structure. I have channels to speak out, I do not want to intimidate people who don’t have access to such channels, or who have to stay silent in order to avoid risking their lives. It is exactly for this reason, that we have to speak out en masse. I also think that ‘speaking out’ can happen in a variety of ways, just as acts of resistance do.
Although I have a hard time believing it myself, almost everyone I met in Cizre (a Kurdish town inside Turkey bordering Syria) in 2015, has either been killed or else left Cizre in order to stay alive. I owe this statement to the people I met in Cizre. Many other Kurdish towns and cities have suffered from or are currently undergoing similar attacks by Turkish State security forces. Every struggle in this region is connected, even though some might want to separate them. The one sharp difference is that some people get censored and others get killed in this country. Exactly because of this, we, the ones who get censorred, need to keep ourselves connected to other resistances and realize of our privilege. With this letter I wish to show solidarity with those working in the fields of culture and art who have already experienced or might experience similar censorships. My statement aims to express that we do not have to bear those abuses alone, with the hope that more of us will be able to speak up, and the hope that we can act collectively.
For more background on this case please read “Post-Peace” exhibition cancelled in Istanbul.
In the weeks since the initial writing of this statement, the context which necessitated it has been evolving rapidly. The cycle of violence that is taking place, the recent attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, deeply sadden us. While the censorship of an art event may seem like a relatively minor matter in light of this, we believe we have an obligation to speak about our experience, especially now. By publishing this statement we want to counter the self-censorship and state censorship which occur all too frequently in times of crisis and emergencies. This is the current situation in Turkey, but it is not limited to Turkey alone. The use of public emergencies to legitimise the suppression of cultural expression, journalism, and academia is a more general current in which many are swept up. It is the responsibility of cultural workers to speak out against this silencing, and to advocate for spaces of discussion and reflection, cultural tolerance, and universalism. For these reasons, we are publishing our collective statement on the censorship of Post-Peace.
ARTISTS’ RESPONSE TO THE CANCELLATION OF THE POST-PEACE EXHIBITION
As artists and contributors of ‘Post-Peace’, the exhibition curated by Katia Krupennikova and selected in October 2015 as the winning proposal of Akbank Sanat’s International Curator Competition 2015, we strongly state our indignation towards Akbank Sanat’s last minute cancellation of the exhibition.
We were invited within the framework of the exhibition “to question how war and peace appear today”. The opening was scheduled for March 1; it was cancelled on February 25. In an email to Krupennikova and the jury members, Akbank Sanat director Derya Bigalı stated that “over the course of our preparations, Turkey went through a very troubled time. In particular the tragic incidents in Ankara which are very fresh in people’s memories.”
We are very aware that the social and political situation in Turkey has intensified during the period leading up to the exhibition. Human rights in Turkey are rapidly declining on a daily basis; the freedom of expression of independent media, cultural organisations, and citizens in Turkey is facing unprecedented pressure and (self)censorship. In our view it is urgent and essential that art and culture engage with and address this distressing situation.
The premise of Post-Peace was to offer a platform for a plurality of voices to explore how much “war” is present in contemporary “peace”, as stated in the curator’s initial proposal. The silencing of Post-Peace by Akbank Sanat points to an alarming symptom, currently all too visible throughout Turkey, a climate of fear and paranoia. We deplore the situation in which an art institute actively interferes with what they think should be the boundaries of public discussion and knowledge.
Because of Akbank Sanat’s irresponsible action, our labour for this exhibition is now invisible. This forces us to create a collective statement in order to give voice to the experience of censorship. We are very aware that, in a way, we are lucky ones: we are fortunate enough to be able to share our experience, in comparison to those suffering from more brutal forms of censorship and silencing, whose voices threaten to be totally erased.
We strongly object to the short notice cancellation of the exhibition, and are united in the following viewpoints:
- We want to underline that the explanation given by Akbank Sanat, emailed only to Katia Krupennikova and the jury members, is far from transparent and hardly credible, since the supposed reasons for the cancellation apparently did not affect the rest of Akbank Sanat’s program, like its film festival and music concerts. Hence, we claim that the cancellation of Post-Peace was an act of political censorship.
- The censorship of Post-Peace unveils a situation in which corporations fund the production of exhibitions to enhance their image, and then brutally dismiss artworks and artists when they deviate from the corporation’s political agenda. In this way, the ‘taste’ of the institution becomes an instrument of repression and control. As artists that are involuntarily caught up in this situation, it is our responsibility to oppose this predicament, which has become symptomatic of a certain sector of the art world. If unchallenged, this kind of control over artistic production threatens to become the prevailing norm.
- We would like to use this moment to publicly announce our solidarity with all those who suffer from any form of censorship inflicted on people and communities in Turkey.
- We therefore strongly condemn and are deeply concerned about the ongoing trial against artist and writer Pınar Öğrenci and artist Atalay Yeni. Along with 23 other people, they are being accused by the Turkish government of conspiracy to terrorism, and might face up to 18 years in jail for attending the peace march “Barış İçin Yürüyorum/I Am Walking for Peace”. Pınar Öğrenci was scheduled to deliver a lecture performance during the public program of Post-Peace. We stand in solidarity with the declaration of “Barış İçin Yürüyorum/I Am Walking for Peace” that “The only way to cope with the ordeal we are facing today and to make an end to this war, death and destruction, goes through voicing our demand for peace louder, together and courageously, and to stand in solidarity with the people in the region.”
- We remain committed to the open and reflective discourse that Post-Peace aimed to create. The situation that we are currently experiencing strengthens our resolve to make sure that this exhibition takes place, and to continue working on this urgent topic and to develop an international discursive platform about it.
Yaşar Adanali, Anonymous Stateless Immigrants collective, Ella de Búrca, Anna Dasović, Ehsan Fardjadniya, Yazan Khalili, Lyubov Matyunina, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Anika Schwarzlose, Alexei Taruts, Oxana Timofeeva, Anastasiya Yarovenko.
Bu metni yazmaya başladığımızdan bu yana geçen zamanda metni gerekli kılan bağlam çok hızlı bir şekilde değişti. Tekrarlanan şiddet eylemleri, Ankara ve İstanbul’daki son saldırılar bizi derinden üzdü. Bu yaşananlar gözönüne alındığında bir sanat etkinliğinin sansürlenmesi görece küçük bir şeymiş gibi görünse de, bu deneyimimiz hakkında özellikle şu anda konuşmamız gerektiğine inanıyoruz. Bu metni yayınlayarak, kriz durumlarında ve acil durumlarda sıklıkla vuku bulan otosansür ve devlet sansürüne karşı olduğumuzu belirtmek istiyoruz. Bu, Türkiye’nin içinde olduğu son durum, ama bu durum sadece Türkiye’ye özgü ya da Türkiye’yle sınırlı değil. Kamu alanındaki aciliyetlerin kültürel, gazetecilik, ve akademik alandaki ifade özgürlükleri kısıtlamalarını meşru hale getirmek için kullanılması pek çok insana hareket alanı bırakmayan yaygın bir uygulama. Bu susturulmalara karşı ses çıkarmak, müzakere ve derinlemesine sorgulama alanlarının gerekliliğini savunmak kültür emekçilerinin bir sorumluluğudur. Bu saydığımız nedenlerden dolayı Barış Sonrası (Post-Peace) Sergisi’nin sansürlenmesi üzerine yazdığımız ortak açıklamamızı yayınlıyoruz.
Barış Sonrası Sergisi Sanatçılarından Sergi İptali Kararına Tepki
Katia Krupennikova’nın küratörlüğünü üstlendiği ve Akbank Sanat Uluslararası Küratör Yarışması’nı Kasım 2015’te kazanan Barış Sonrası (Post-Peace) isimli serginin sanatçıları ve katılımcıları olarak, Akbank Sanat’ın sergiyi son dakikada iptal etme kararına karşı kızgınlığımızı dile getirmek istiyoruz.
Bu sergiye ‘savaş ve barışın günümüzde nasıl tezahür ettiği’ sorusu çerçevesinde davet edildik. Serginin açılışı 1 Mart olarak planlanmıştı, ve sergi 25 Şubat’ta iptal edildi. Akbank Sanat Direktörü Derya Bigalı, Krupennikova ve jüri üyelerine yolladığı e-mail’de, ‘Serginin hazırlıkları sırasında Türkiye çok sıkıntılı zamanlardan geçti. Özellikle Ankara’da yaşanan trajik olaylar, halkın hafızasında çok taze.’ ifadelerini kullandı.
Sergi hazırlıkları aşamasında Türkiye’deki toplumsal ve siyasi durumun kötüye gittiğinin farkındayız. Türkiye’deki insan hakları ihlalleri gün geçtikçe artıyor; bağımsız basın, kültür kurumları ve vatandaşların ifade özgürlüğü görülmemiş bir baskı ve (oto)sansürle karşı karşıya kalmakta. Kültür ve sanatın, bu zorlu sürecin yakın takipçisi olmasının acil ve elzem olduğunu düşünmekteyiz.
Küratörün ilk sergi metninde belirttiği gibi, ‘Barış Sonrası’ Sergisi’nin amacı, günümüzdeki ‘barış’ halinde ‘savaş’ın nasıl bir yeri olduğuna dair farklı fikirleri bir araya getiren bir platform yaratmaktı. Akbank Sanat’ın ‘Barış Sonrası’ Sergisi’ni susturması, endişe verici bir semptoma, Türkiye’de fazlasıyla görünür hale gelen korku ve paranoya iklimine işaret etmektedir. Bir sanat kurumunun kamusal tartışma ve bilginin sınırlarının ne olması gerektiğine bilfiil müdahale ettiği bu durumu esefle karşılıyoruz.
Akbank’ın bu sorumsuz tavri bizlerin bu sergi kapsaminda ortaya koyduğu emeği görünmez kılmıştır. Bu durum bizi bu sansürlenme deneyimimizi görünür kılmak için müşterek bir açıklama yapmaya yöneltti. Bir açıdan da şanslı olduğumuzun farkındayız: sansürün daha acımasız şekillerine ve susturulmalara maruz kalan ve ifadelerinin tümüyle yok edilmesi tehdidiyle karşı karşıya olanlara kıyasla deneyimimizi paylaşabilme şansına sahibiz.
Serginin son dakikadaki iptalini inatla sorguluyoruz, ve aşağıda belirtilen noktalarda ortaklaştığımızı belirtiriz:
- Akbank Sanat tarafından Katia Krupennikova’ya ve juri üyelerine email olarak gönderilen açiklamanın şeffaflıktan ve inandırıcılıktan uzak olduğunun altını çizmek isteriz. Serginin iptalinin sözde nedenleri görünüşe bakılırsa Akbank Sanat’ın film festivali ve müzik konserleri gibi diğer programlarını etkilememiştir. Bu sebeplerden dolayı ‘Barış Sonrası’ Sergisi’nin iptalinin politik bir sansür olduğunu iddia ediyoruz.
- Barış Sonrası Sergisi’nin sansürlenmesi, şirketlerin imajlarını güçlendirmek için sergi üretimlerini finansal olarak destekledikleri, ancak politik çıkarlarına uymayan sanatçı ve işlerin ortaya çıkması durumundaysa bu sanatçı ve işlerini acımasızca yoksaydıkları bir döngüyü görünür kılmaktadır. Bu şekilde, sirketin ‘üslubu’ (sanatci üzerinde) bir baskı ve kontrol aracı haline gelmektedir. İsteğimiz dışında kendimizi böylesi bir durumda bulan sanatçılar olarak bu kötü gidişata karşı çıkmanın sorumluluğumuz olduğunu düşünüyoruz. Bu durum sanat dünyasının belirli alanlarında semptomatikleşmiştir, ve karşı durulmadığı sürece de sanatsal üretimin üzerindeki bu kontrolün yaygın bir kaideye dönüşme tehlikesi vardır.
- Bu açıklamayla, Türkiye’de sansürün farklı biçimleriyle karşı karşıya kalan kişi ve gruplarla dayanışma içinde olduğumuzu da göstermek istiyoruz.
- Aynı zamanda, sanatçı ve yazar Pınar Ögrenci ve sanatçı Atalay Yeni’ye karşı açılan davayı kınadığımızı ve dava süreciyle ilgili kaygımızı dile getirmek istiyoruz. “Barış İçin Yürüyorum/I Am Walking for Peace” barış yürüyüşüne katıldıkları için, 23 kişiyle beraber Türkiye hükümeti tarafindan terör propagandası yapmakla suçlanarak 18 yil hapis istemiyle yargilaniyorlar. Pinar Ögrenci’nin ‘Barış Sonrası’ sergisi programında bir performans yapması planlanmıştı. Bizler, “Barış İçin Yürüyorum/I Am Walking for Peace”in yaptığı şu açıklamayı desteklediğimizi berlirtiriz: “Bugün karşı karşıya kaldığımız bu zorlu durumla başa çıkmanın, savaşı, ölümleri yıkımları durdurmanın yolu barışa ilişkin talebimizi daha yüksek sesle, cesurca söylemekten ve bölge halkıyla dayanışmaktan geçiyor.”
- Barış Sonrası Sergisi’nin yaratmayı amaçladığı açık uçlu ve sorgulayıcı söylemde ısrar ediyoruz. İçinden geçmekte olduğumuz bu süreç, bu serginin yapılmasının, aciliyeti olan bu konularda yapılan çalışmaların devam etmesinin, ve uluslararası söylemsel bir platformun geliştirilmesinin gerekliliğini vurgulamaktadır.
Anonim Vatansız Göçmenler Kolektifi (Anonymous Stateless Immigrants Collective), Ella de Búrca, Anna Dasović, Ehsan Fardjadniya, Yazan Khalili, Lyuba Matyunina, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Anika Schwarzlose, Alexei Taruts, Anastasiya Yarovenko.
LETTER OF SOLIDARITY – To the participants and organizers of the exhibition Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum
To read more about the Anti-Gentrification movement in Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Museum Artists, writers and critics’ Open Letter: No Real Estate Summit at the Brooklyn Museum!
To the participants and organizers of the exhibition Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum
As participants in the exhibition, we call for solidarity with the Anti-Gentrification movement in Brooklyn. As the conceptual framework of the exhibition claims: there is no division between art and activism.
Therefore we appreciate the decision of the Museum to include “The People’s Monument to Anti-Displacement” (PMAD) into the show and their commitment to support the concerns of the community the Museum is located in and should represent. It seems now that the Brooklyn Museum is backing out of their agreement to host the Anti-Gentrification/Displacement Summit that should take place on July 10, 2016, highlighting the struggles of the community in regards to gentrification and displacement.
We strongly hope that the Museum keeps their promise to allow a program that addresses re-zoning, displacement, homelessness, eviction, harassment, police brutality, and other impacting factors affecting communities of color.
We live in a world where forced migration, segregation and displacement of the poor, of refugees and homeless have become normality. Many European states have closed their borders and built fences physically hindering hundred of thousands of people to seek refuge in the safe and wealthy states of the European Union. European cities have established fenced refugee camps, a system that decades before was put into practice to house Roma communities that have been brutally evicted from their settlements. This is a structural problem of the capitalist system that profits from structural exclusion and class racism, securing low production costs and thus maximizing the profit of the 1%. On top of that, segregation and surveillance of the poor, housing in camps and minimum social services for evicted and excluded communities generates extra-profit and jobs for the security and social services sector.
We think that the Brooklyn Museum, as a public institution, could have an outstanding role in addressing life-threatening displacement and eviction, because it has established a good contact with the community and welcoming attitude towards the local Anti-Gentrification network.
We believe that the Museum has a great responsibility to maintain the good contact with the local community, exactly because the critical voices and engaged practices put at display within the exhibition Agitprop! can’t be divorced from actual people and real problems.
We have informed the curator and exhibition organizers that we want the loan fee for our piece Red Winter exhibited at the show to be transferred directly to the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network, and we are trying to find an administrative solution for making this happen.
Our Commons are Free Movement, Access to Land, Water and Knowledge!
Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic