“Post-Peace” exhibition cancelled in Istanbul
In October 2015 I won the Akbank Sanat Curator Competition with an exhibition project which brings together artists from a variety of origins to question how war and peace appear today. The title of the show is “Post-Peace,” a term that is a possible name for our difficult and confusing present. It was planned to open on 1 March 2016 and run until 7 May, 2016 in Akbank Sanat, Istanbul.
The participants are: Anonymous Stateless Immigrants, Ella de Búrca, Anna Dasović, Yazan Khalili, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Alexei Taruts, Anika Schwarzlose, Anastasia Yarovenko as well as writers Oxana Timofeeva, Ece Temelkuran and Etel Adnan and participants of the public programme Lyubov Matyunina, Yaşar Adanali, Pınar Öğrenci, Koken Ergun and Jaha Koo.
The project was selected by an international jury consisting of Bassam El Baroni (independent curator and theory tutor at Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem), Paul O’Neill (curator, writer and Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York), Iris Dressler and Hans D. Christ (directors of the Württembergisch Kunstverein Stuttgart). Developed and coordinated by Basak Senova, the competition is intended to provide support for emerging curators, reinforce interest in curatorial practices, and encourage new projects in the field of contemporary art.
On the 25th February, 2016, a few days before the opening, the exhibition was cancelled by Akbank Sanat. The official explanation letter to myself and the jury states the following reasons: “…over the course of our preparations, Turkey went through a very troubled time. In particular, the tragic incidents in Ankara are very fresh in people’s memories. Turkey is still reeling from their emotional aftershocks and remains in a period of mourning. Therefore, many events, including – but not limited to – exhibitions, concerts, and performances, are being cancelled every day.” I, along with the artists in the show, believe this to be a case of political censorship. I fully recognize the tense political atmosphere in Turkey right now, and the reasons why Akbank Sanat may not wish to be associated with the exhibition. But this is also why it is essential to have open discussions and a place for people to engage with different perspectives on issues relevant in the Turkish context and beyond.
This situation is a very complicated one, and that is why I am currently in discussion with severalinstitutions in Istanbul to host conversations about the ethics and responsibilities of art professionals working in tense political and social environments. I am also proposing to these institutions to co-host events and parts of the exhibition. I believe that turning this unfortunate situation into a critical dialogue is the best and most constructive decision.
More information to follow upon confirmations.
More information about the exhibition:
2 March — 7 May, 2016
Preview: 1 March
Artists: Anonymous Stateless Immigrants, Ella de Búrca, Anna Dasović, Yazan Khalili, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Alexei Taruts, Anika Schwarzlose, Anastasia Yarovenko.
Curator: Katia Krupennikova
Post-Peace brings together artists from a variety of origins to question how war and peace appear today. The works by peers from different parts of the world are united by common expressions of danger, fear, and the feeling of disorientation created by mass media’s multiple versions of reality. This mood is present in the exhibition as an alarm pointing to how much “war” is present in our contemporary “peace.”
“Even the fierceness of war and all the disquietude of men make towards this one end of peace, which every nature desires.” The line, one of the chapter headings of Saint Augustine’s The City of God, expresses a truism for many war planners and politicians: if war is not exactly peace, its end most definitely should be. This idea was expressed most famously in the catchphrase used to describe the First World War, “the War to End All Wars”—a line that was often derided at the time. Field-Marshal Earl Wavell memorably described the Paris Peace Conference as the “Peace to End Peace.” The First World War paved the war for the Second, whose conclusion gave us the “Postwar Era,” defined by the central antagonism of the USA and the USSR, the “Cold War,” with its myriad proxy conflicts and regional wars.
The defeat of the Soviet Union and the triumph of capitalist democracy was meant to usher in a new non-conflictual age, and even an “end of history.” Taking our cue from Wavell’s felicitous phrase, perhaps the best way to describe the contemporary situation, in which the “peace” of global capitalism can only be bought at the price of continuous violence and warfare, is PostPeace. Post-Peace is thus a concept that is used to define the time after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but may also apply to the whole period following the Second World War, with its decades of conflicts and antagonisms.
The concept of “peace” in the Post-Peace era has turned Eurocentric: the killing grounds have recently occupied Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Eastern part of the Europe, places where former imperial regimes have been collapsing. International conflicts hide themselves behind local civil conflicts. A whole new vocabulary has sprung up to describe the new nature of warfare: preemptive, hybrid, nonconventional, asymmetric. Moreover, wars tend to be located in places that are nearly impossible to access by reliable eyewitnesses and media. Reality is obfuscated behind contradictory reports and calculated lies.
The exhibition Post-Peace is not directly about war, but rather about peace: it does not wish to add to the many representations of violence already circulating in the media. Gathered together in Akbank Sanat the selected artists will rather expose, through a visual conversation, the screen of peace as it functions today.
The public program, entitled How I learned To Start Worrying. Symptoms of Post-Peace was to include: Lyubov Matyunina, Yaşar Adnan Adanali, Pınar Öğrenci, Ece Temelkuran. Jaha Koo, Köken Ergun.