Turkey

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

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and the Arts (IKSV) (non-profit art organization)
Artist:
Ali Kazma
Curator:
Emre Baykal
Selection procedure:
Jury selection of the curator.

Curator

Name:
Emre Baykal
Gender:
Male
Born:
Turkey, 1975
Lives and works in:
Turkey
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Politics & Economics

State System:
Unitary parliamentary republic
Ruling Political Party:
Islam-inspired social conservative and neo-liberal Justice and Development Party
Population (World Bank, 2011):
73,639,596
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$10,524
Unemployment (World Bank, 2011):
9.8% of the labor force
World Bank credit:
$5,580,000,000
Net OECD ODA Aid Donated (2011):
$2,531,630,000
Net OECD ODA Aid Received (2011):
$838,850,000
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
$18,184,000,000

Alliances


Coalition of the Willing
G20
World Bank debt
NATO
OECD
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
WTO

Conflicts

Country independent since:
1923 (successor state to the Ottoman empire)
Last Major Border Revision:
1939 (annexation of the Syrian Hatay State)
International Court of Justice cases:
1
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
24
Nuclear Force?
No
Ongoing Conflicts and Disputes:
Ongoing conflict with Greece over territorial claims in the Aegaen and over the division of Cyprus. Northern Cyprus is occupied by ca. 30.000 Turkish troops. Turkey has closed the border with Armenia and has a territorial dispute with Syria. Turkey furthermore openly supports Palestine and the rebels in the Syrian civil war. Internal conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Participation in Multinational Missons:
NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and anti-piracy missions in international waters. UN peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Congo, Darfur, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Lebanon, Liberia and Sudan. EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.