I got a few reactions by Facebook users while we exhibited this project. Some of them were nasty, some of them just weired in a very funny way. I wrote my own comment to one of it.
„Those Germans, always nagging about Turkey!“, “Mind your own business, you Germany!“ Or as Halil Ibrahim E.puts it the “German Lügenpresse* has done everything to mizlead the people here“. Mr. E., as stated on Facebook from „AKP Cologne“, has made an effort to really express his opion opinion in this social network, which is why his quotes will be found in the following of this short text – including the incorrect spelling and punctuation, because correctness has to be, you Germany!
Just to clarify things to Mr. E. in the beginning: this project by no means belongs to the category of Lügenpresse, this is art. Mr. E. might not have noticed this, but after all a facebook post is written quickly and not everybody has the patience to read what is written therein. The fact is: since the failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, Turkey has entered a state of emergency. People are getting arrested on a daily basis by the goverment. Or as Mr. E puts it: “Finally, it’s being cleaned up and the upturn goes on against all odds.“
To those who have been so to say being „cleaned up“, belong hundreds of thousands people: politicians, journalists, teachers, state servants, lawyers, or those who dared to speak up their minds on public media. Often it is enough to post a single criticism on social media to be summoned before the judicial authorities. As an artist, and first and foremost as a human being, I asked my colleagues in Istanbul the following questions: how is it like to live under such oppressive circumstances? Is it still possible at all to work creatively and artistic? And: how could this have happened at all?
On those questions there are 80 million different answers. This is the amount of Turkey’s current population, which will – Inshallah! – increase in numbers, once every young woman bears at least 3 children, as demanded by the head of state. Since I didn’t have the time and limited funds I could only ask a handful of these people out of 80 million. I would glady gladly go on asking questions to more people, if you, Mr. E., provided more funding – and only when it is a hundred percent safe for me to enter Turkey again. Tamam?
And yes, we have our own problems in Germany as well. However, I am – as a German – still interested in knowing how my friends are doing back there, as oder because their wellbeing wellbeing is important to me. And if it even makes my somewhat older and conservative friend furious to see the discrepancy between government reports and actual occuring incidents in reality: then the shit hits the fan. Turkey has economical problems, but the government does everything in its power to make it look like everything works tip-top.
According to the Turkish statistical office, economic growth is increasing in the third quarter of 2017, this high it hasn’t during the past 6 years.This growth has been promoted by construction industry and weapon exports. Turkey grows because it (like many other countries in this world) sends weapons to crisis regions and eagerly constructs buildings. According to another artist, Istanbul is a goldmine for construction companies nowadays. As a German, you would get nervous if there is drilling, welding and cementing around at midnight in the center of the city. But please let us not forget: “Turkey“, according to Mr. E. ‚ has had an increase of 30 percent more tourists this year in comparison to the last but the Lügenpresse did do everything to mizlead the people here for a long time.“ Whew, luckily there are arabian tourists – Turkey’s tourism industry is saved!
Let me clarify a fundamental misunderstanding here: “Those Germans“, people like you and me, who are usually not very patriotic and wouldn’t wave and parade with the national flags through the city centre, “those Germans“, do not have anything against Turkey. But history showed them that a narcistic madman at head of the state should be seen as potentially dangerous. ‚Those Germans“ actually had a similar madman once. Despite all the failures regarding integration that our country made during the last decades: Germany is a bit like Turkey, our country is also Ramadan, rose marmelade, and Turkish bakkal** at the corner. And “those Germans“ kindly want their Deniz and their Mesale to be safe! At the same time “those Germans“ need to see that although their politicians criticizeTurkey, german major corporations like Siemens, BASF, Bosch and others still invest in Turkey. Profit still seems to be more valuable than human dignity, all around the world.***
What is the solution to all this? I don’t know. Because this project is just a tiny part of a jigsaw, my small input, an impetus to rethink. Many called my decision to go to Turkey and realize such a project there courageous. But I am not. My artist-colleagues living there are the ones that are brave: they are not victims, but just trying to survive in an inhuman environment.
We should give them our support. So, c’mon! go to Turkey and party with them all night long, read their texts, subscribe to one of latest critical magazines. Ask the German goverment when they will translate their sanctions on Turkey into action. And don’t forget: In times like these, we need to stick together!
[Alexandra Breitenstein, Dortmund 2017]
* Lügenpresse, german fake media
** bakkal, little turkish street corner market
+++ article in ZEIT Online, german magazine