Open Call for 5th Pride Week Exhibition

Seçil Epik, “Ay Resmen Açık Çağrı (Ay, Open Call, Officially!), TimeOut Istanbul, April 2014,

As we count down to the 22nd Pride Week festivities, we received an invitation for an exhibition. For  this year’s Pride Week exhibition, first held in 2009,  the title  “Who Would Have Thought” and a concept of multiple exhibits on a particular parade route have been considered.  Seçil Epik spoke with Metin Akdemir and Efe Songun of the exhibition committee about the open invitation and the details of the exhibition.

Before we come to the 5th Pride Week Exhibition, shall we recall  the ones in the previous years?

Metin Akdemir:  The first exhibition was “Uprising and Pride” held in 2009 at Hafriyat to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. As you know, the Stonewall Riots, which broke out following a police raid in New York of a bar called Stonewall Inn, are viewed as the beginning of the open resistance of the LGBT movement. In the exhibition held in 2010,  the theme was “Family” and the works displayed examined and sought to expand the narrow meaning of the concept of Family. The title of the 2012 exhibition was “Oppression, Pleasure and the Body” and it was held in Cezayir. In this exhibition, works on display were concerned with the politics of the body which the system imposes on us.

Last year the Pride Week theme was “Resistance” and it was also influenced by the Gezi events. This year the theme has been decided as “the Big Explosion”.  We are announcing the title here for the first time. How did this title emerge?

MA:  It emerged with the question of “What did the LGBTI movement experience in the past and how, at this point, does it look to the future?” We thought this is the right time to explore this question. What will be the number of people in the parade which had reached 50,000 last year? Has the LGBT movement’s visibility really increased or is it a simulation? Does homophobia in society still exist? Has there really been a big explosion? We want to see all these.

What is our expectation from the exhibition? What should “from where to where?” express for us?

MA:  That the exhibition will take place in three different venues this year is in a way itself a kind of parade, a walk through and a way of  looking at the past.

Efe Songun:  In addition to issues like the pink and blue buses [gender-specific buses proposed by the religious Felicity Party] , the idea of a separate prison for the LGBTI inmates, the absence of sexual orientation and gender identity in the constitution which have been of concern to the LGBTI movement, this year LGBTI candidates campaigned to be included in local governance. Art as an expressive form will likely show us the different dimensions of the results of this explosion that happened within the last year. This year, everyone was a superhero in the LGBT movement and the Pride Week exhibition looks to be an outcome of this.

What kind of works do we expect from artists for the exhibition “From Where to Where?”

ES: The Pride Week has been represented by the panels and workshops it has organized for years. But beyond this, there are artists in Turkey who are interested in queer art and produce works of art in this area. It will be an important step to show the works of these artists who work in both local and international platforms. The exhibition is open to anyone regardless of religion, language, race, gender or sexual orientation. So far we have received applications from Barcelona, Italy, Diyarbakır and Ankara. Because we have not reached the elimination stage, I cannot give details, but we have mixed media, video and photography among the works. Sema Semih, Hasan Hüseyin Şehriban are among the names who have already said that they will contribute.

MA: It is important to note that the artists whose works we expect do not have to have an LGBTI identity, that we do not have such an expectation. We expect works from any individual and organization that have any opinion about the matter, who are concerned with the LGBTI movement. For example, Guytalk (Erkek Muhabbeti) recently organized an exhibition titled, “A Few Men: An Exhibition by Men on Masculinities.”  We can say that we also expect such organizational participation. There are of course names whose works we wish to see. We specifically reached out to names like Nilbar Güreş, Seda Hepsev, İlhan Sayın.

How did the names and organizations in the consultative board such as Erinç Seymen, CANAN, Fatih Özgüven, Depo get determined?

MA: These are names that first come to mind when you think about contemporary art in Turkey. As the Pride Week exhibition committee, we are people who have put our hearts into this work and have taken ownership of the organizing effort. We do this because we are interested in art, but, on the other hand, we do need professional help.

ES: The people who give support to our exhibition had to be people who were affiliated with the movement, who had previously given support as well. These names gave a very quick, sincere response to our invitation. We will do the first round of elimination, they will do the final selection afterwards. The process of selection of the works for the exhibition will also be the same. They will also curate the exhibition.

Where, when, how?

The team is looking forward to seeing artists take up the open call for participation in the exhibition themed “Who Would Have Thought” that will showcase the social history of the LGBT movement.

Three venues have been considered for the exhibition which will take place between June 24th-29th. The opening will be held on June 24th at Mixer Art. There will be an opening cocktail reception followed by a party. The two venues which have been decided are Mixer Art and Maumau. One of the exhibit halls on the parade route in Tophane is being considered for the third venue. Thus, one will be able to successively visit the exhibits that are all located along the parade route.

Deadline for Participation:

May 20th, 2014. For application and details, contact:

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