On the Path from Resistance to Resist
The title of Ali Kazma’s Venice installation, “Resistance,” is accurately chosen for the representation of Turkey in Venice at this current moment. There is, however, a better word available: Resist. “To resist” moves beyond representation and is rather about coming to an act.
Ali gave me his catalogue in Venice with a handwritten note “Keep resisting.” This happened just before the extremely violent police response against the small peaceful protest camp in Gezi Park, in Istanbul, on 28 May. These events have ignited the large and growing unrest all around Turkey. I think we should think of the differences and similarities between the protest by art professionals, including everybody involved with The Pavilion of Turkey, at San Marco, Arsenale and Giardini in Venice on June 1 and the act of Activists occupying the Pavilion of Turkey on June 6. That way we can go back to the vital question; how can we move away from the word “Resistance” and come closer to the word “Resist”?
I arrived Istanbul in the afternoon on June 1 and immediately joined the protestors at Gezi Park, at Taksim Square, until it was evacuated with harsh Police intervention on June 15th. Thousands of peaceful demonstrators had organized in solidarity and witnessed, for the first time, such cohabitation between radically different social groups, protesting side by side. We all faced extreme police violence: police forces have been using tear gas and high-pressure water hoses against the protestors. This, however, caused even more and more people to gather. Protestors have been standing behind their demands in a peaceful, confident, way, using an incredible amount of creativity, humor and clever and effective improvisations. I have seen many of them cleaning the area, helping each other, providing medical care and giving free food.
While all of this was happening, artists were all around. Instead of forming their own organization and gathering in one place they became actively involved, working together with various organizational mechanisms inside and outside of the Gezi Park. This is where we move from the representation of resistance to the transformative practice that makes it possible for us to resist. Not as a national pavilion, but as a people. Not as artists, but as creators of a different politics to come.Ahmet Öğüt