chrono – still waiting for narration…

I have written the below words months ago… Some more words got in between the layers of time. Somehow relevant for performance, somehow relevant on a personal, historical level… Hopefully unfolding for a peaceful prayer for life.

And yet still…

… In the following pages, I share all what I compiled around my durational performance “in between prayers” – that had to end in a hotel room standing alone in the dark. There are my personal notes, newspaper and magazine excerpts, mails, messages and few reflections here – that await for me to make a meaningful document out of it all.

I trust the time. Time will come and I will compile all this into something or not! Time will show…

However if you happened to find this personal collection and are interested in the story of this performance, feel free to scroll down to travel backwards in time or visit archives to compile non-linear stories of yours “in between prayers”.

Thank you for witnessing…



The End

These are my last words to Erdem and anyone who is involved in discussions around my ongoing past performance “in between prayers” (documented here in this site) and the “standing man” intervention during Gezi Park events. I had to publish these words as an answer to Erdem’s facebook post. I am so happy that here and now, this relationship has come to an end.



This is an unsubstantial and unacceptable accusation. I have not been writing, talking or actually thinking about you.

I do thank you, however, for suggesting a correction of language. I will ask ImPulsTanz editors to make a change in my biography: “seemed to” does sound like it is my own perception and should be changed to “perceived as”, since it actually happens to be not me but a number of art historians, journalists, and colleagues who made that connection.

You can find the links to their articles and messages in the blog of my durational public space performance “in between prayers-doing nothing” – which took place at the Caglayan Palace of Justice, then Taksim Square, TTT Budapest, Arsenal and ended in a dark hotel room in Djon following its initial conceptual sharings during Open Mic Istanbul radio broadcast and tribute for Pınar Selek at ÇATI studio. (

Reading this blog, one would also see that what you seem to have “perceived” and written above has nothing at all to do with my reality. I have in the past publicly expressed my celebration of your act — as I “used to” think you were a friend of mine. Especially the following message I sent to danslistesi back in 2013 details my perspective on this matter:…/yazilan…/

Given all the above, one wonders what might actually have caused your own misperceptions. And what leads you to NOT communicate with me directly, in person and in Turkish, but write a public post here in English instead? You lose me on that one.

Wishing you all the best in your journey, I just want to cite my Every Body Knows workshop’s introduction here:

“There is nothing new under the sun! And yet what is already there invites us to dive deeper into the layers of our presence; to seek a conscious yet liberated and sovereign place to dance from.” 


After so many years, Erdem’s words…

After so many years, Erdem’s words… Years past. I have not been revisiting this site. I have not been seeing or talking to Erdem. All of a sudden, when I was in Vienna at ImPulsTanz getting ready to give a workshop, this letter appeared on my Facebook – in English… Erdem decided to answer after almost 4 years – and in English.)

(Bunca yıl sonra Erdem’in sözü… Yıllar geçti. Ben bu siteye yeniden bakmaz oldum. Erdem’i görmez, kendisiyle konuşmaz oldum. Birden, Viyana’da ImPulsTanz’ta ders vermek üzere bulunduğum bir haftada Facebook sayfamda bir mesaj, İngilizce olarak beliriverdi… Erdem neredeyse 4 sene sonra bana cevap vermek istemiş. Nedense İngilizce olarak.)

“Dear Defne Erdur,

Kindly asking you to stop writing about me (referring to Standing Man ) and stop telling not true about me and my action that day on Taksim square. Because you are not me, you can not think as me. As you implied before that by standing that day on the Taksim square I copied your performance I could not do much more then just rise my eyebrows in shock. I thought I had explained that to you before: I found your accusations unfair and hurtful. But you ignored it, spreading the info in dance community that I ,,stole your piece,, (??? ). I have been quite quiet about this irrational statement since long. But I should say now: Please stop it.

I would like to remind you that I have been studying Contemporary Dance for 10 years. I would like to remind you that I did more or less 20 performances. I would like to remind you that movement and stillness is an inherent part of dance, part of my life, part of everybodys life. You are not the pioneer of ,,standing,, act. I would like to remind you that standing there on Taksim square that day was not a performance. It was a protest, a spontaneous reaction of my body, which just stopped there.. Reaction to helplessness, anger and hope all mixed together , but wounding my heart. It was reaction to the happening events in those bitter days of Turkey. You might not believe me but Defne Erdur was not on my mind that day, on Taksim Square. I was there as a citizen of the country, not an artist.

Yes, I was in Cati and I happened to see your performance in that small dance floor. Same as I was trying to be there to support everyone, including some artists and young students of Cati as well who tried to do their first performances there. I was most of the time there. So I saw you in your piece reading some text while standing, from time to time changing direction of looking. It was nothing revealing for me to be honest. I used stillness as part of my Cadi Agaci work in 2009-2011. So if we followed your way of thinking we should have asked a question: who influenced whom first? Please come to your senses! You should remember the text of Cadi Agaci by Edip Cansever “Ben kendi yarattığım bir yoldan geçiyorum. Yolun üstünde kurumuş bir cadi agaci… Ki yarattığım bir yolda duruyorum”.

So please change your incorrect statement that you placed on ImpulsTans workshop event in your bio from : (…) Defne’s performance ,,In between prayers ,, that SEEMED TO HAVE SIGNIFICANT impact on an artistic intervention called ,,standing man,, (….) into something more accurate like : Defne’s performance ,,In between prayers ,, that SEEMED TO HAVE IN DEFNES PERSONAL OPINION significant impact on an PHYSICAL intervention called ,,standing man,, (….).

Your performance didn’t have significant impact on me, nor on my individual protest that day, or on any other field in my life. Please come to your senses!

By the way, please read Gene Sharp book which was published in 1973 ( which I also didn’t know before and got the book as a gift during Oslo Freedom Forum) where you can see some of the methods of nonviolent action like: ,,sit-in,, , ,,stand-in ,, ,,ride-in,, wade-in,, mill-in,, pray-in,, nonviolent occupation,, etc. Those are called physical intervention.

You or me were not the first, not the last… I am so tired of repeating this…


Erdem Gunduz”

chrono – waiting for narration…

In the following pages, I share all what I compiled around my durational performance “in between prayers” – that had to end in a hotel room standing alone in the dark. There are my personal notes, newspaper and magazine excerpts, mails, messages and few reflections here – that await for me to make a meaningful document out of it all.

I trust the time. Time will come and I will compile all this into something or not! Time will show…

However if you happened to find this personal collection and are interested in the story of this performance, feel free to scroll down to travel backwards in time or visit archives to compile non-linear stories of yours “in between prayers”.

Thank you for witnessing…



copied from : (SPRING 2014

Turkey’s Summer of Love and the Art of Political Protest

The protests in Turkey, beginning on May 28, 2013, took place through real and virtual bodies. The realm of the body encompassed more than violence—more than the tear gas, burns from water cannons laced with acidic chemicals, the brutal and arbitrary beatings by police in riot gear, civil police and informal militias, and the final tally of over eight thousand injured, sixty critically, and five dead. It included the idyllic encampment of a park alive with youth, building hope through love and discovering how to shed the skins of divisive labels and loyalties to parties, ethnicities, genders, and even sports teams. Muslims held communal prayers in the park, their space guarded by a human chain of people of every creed. People fell in love. They fell in love romantically,1 but they also fell in love with each other in the sense of people truly seeing each other for the first time. Upon hearing the strength of their own voices enabled to speak honestly and without self-censorship, and of their own ears enabled to listen, people fell in love with themselves. This was not narcissistic compensation for personal failures, but rather a long-neglected appreciation of shared humanity. The protestors suffered immense violence, but they also sustained immense love.

Anonymous, "Resist My Child (Diren Çocum)," June 2013.

The extent of the violence came as a surprise, even to the people at its heart. Prior to these events, few would have put the ideas of “gas mask” and “Istanbul” together. And no one would have imagined the virulently antagonistic football clubs joining forces, let alone the nationalist, Kurdish, and center-left political parties. For months, those of us living abroad had noticed a sequence of headlines steadily disappearing behind others; a Facebook friend described the dizziness resulting from the rapid succession of unrelated major news events, each new incident veiling its precedents. Turkey has a social memory of hard times: many experienced the military coup of 1980 directly, and everybody experiences its effects today, in the automatic self-censorship and other residual dangers of dissent that persist, including unemployment or incarceration. Nobody imagined that metaphorical smoke screens, built of successive headlines, would imminently become eminently real.

On the evening of May 31, my Facebook feed shifted from its usual eclectic articles and pictures of cute cats to instructions on how to make an improvised gas mask from a water bottle and a handkerchief; maps of police v. protest barricades in the neighborhood where I used to work; recipes for teargas antidotes; announcements about escape routes as well as police traps; reports, photographs, and videos of violence and injuries; and images of tear-gas floating across familiar streets and buildings. The feed came from friends, colleagues, and former students. Social media transfixed expatriates as it disclosed an extended sports match between the forces of good and evil unfurled through the scroll of images and text. One side had Facebook and Twitter. The other had tanks, shields, and weapons. I experienced the sick fascination of a gladiator match: a battle of “pen” and “sword,” technologically ramped up a few centuries.

The nighttime pause in the protests came suddenly, and then began the art. Humorous and passionate, it came as performance, graphic design, cartoons, tweets, and graffiti. It effused love as an antidote to violence. Heartfelt and largely anonymous, it communicated as succinctly as the most effective political art, but in its virtual transience refused commodification. In a virtual platform where creators and audiences merged, it became an art form of protest disengaged from the contemporary art biennials that bracketed it. It was not at the Venice Biennale, where art professionals from Turkey staged marches to draw attention to the initial protests. Subsequently, such popular expression upstaged the Istanbul Biennial, which opened the following September.2This proliferation of aesthetically conceived political expression underscores the vitality of political art while indicating a disengagement, enabled by the virtual realm, from the institutional frameworks of its physical dissemination. In Turkey, contemporary art has a long legacy of political expression, and numerous artists engaged in the protests and in their discursive aftermath. The shift of public access from the physical to the virtual foregrounds the much-discussed tension between the evocative critique of political aesthetics and the market forces that sustain their production.3

Despite its limited access to established networks of contemporary art production, this proliferation of online political aesthetic expression (in a form dominated by graphic design) engaged a privileged portion of the population. The Turkish university system functions through a centralized examination system based on complex and ever-changing algorithms that claim to match aptitude to profession, but generally match luck and dogged memorization to somewhat randomly selected career paths. A certain score on the exam and the successful navigation of juried evaluations, both rooted in skills of mimetic representation, may enable entry to the state arts academy in Mimar Sinan University; very few other higher educational institutions offer fine arts education in Turkey. Many of these are geared less toward discourses around global contemporary art and more toward local markets and secondary education. Many globally successful contemporary artists and curators from Turkey have sidestepped this system by shrewdly managing their own art educations, with graduate training at private and/or foreign universities and participation in international networks. However, most Turkish students entering the university do not seek the itinerant life of the global arts professional or even have access to the idea of art as a career path; they and their families seek professional stability and security. For students interested in the arts, a career in advertising provides a creative outlet within a corporate world. Since the early 2000s, the explosion of departments of media and communications in private universities in Istanbul has provided a venue for middle- and upper-middle-class urban students to bring the arts and professional viability together.

Increasingly, the activation of social media as a site for political expression also reflects the proletarization of middle-class youth, who find little employment matching their skills (in Turkey, as elsewhere). These are the artists of the Facebook streets: white-collar urban professionals sending up virtual smoke signals. Their new art speaks the language not of art but of advertising. Just as anonymous graphic design in the virtual sphere gave each sharer a role as curator, the adoption of performance art as street protest muddled the distinctions between high art and public culture. In contrast to the cultural capital implicit in the staging of contemporary art, this protest art unearthed an under-utilized realm of aesthetic practice as a mode of political action, producing modes of speech that undermined the role of authorship and indeed the function of copyright on which the art market, and the artists laboring within it, depend.

Protest art responded to the interplay between violence, morality, and pleasure enacted in recent political discourse. On April 30, 2013, performance artist Defne Erdur staged “in between prayers—doing nothing” at the Istanbul Palace of Justice, in which she stood in the courtyard facing the building between the noon and afternoon prayers, until she was expelled from the premises. Erdur posted the event on Facebook:
30 April 2013
between noon—mid afternoon prayer
Palace of Justice C Block
yes, I am here today…
continuing to do nothing
as the decisions,
that I can never internalize
that I
—in the name of being human—can not ignore,
are being taken or not taken here.
and I do not know what else I can do
than coming face to face with my embarrassment,
giving in to the weight of doing nothing,
searching for what it really is “not doing anything.”
I am tete a tete with my lack of knowledge and means…
…in between prayers—doing nothing4

Not only did Erdur’s performance pinpoint the widespread sense of powerlessness within an increasingly repressive society, it also critiqued the incommensurability between the rhetoric of religion used by the ruling Justice and Peace Party (AKP) and its manipulation of law. The work exposed the artist’s body to the state, which rendered it vulnerable through the application of force. As Louis Althusser argued, such resort to physical repression reveals cracks in a hegemonic regime of spontaneous consent, in which subjects, trained through state-sponsored institutions such as the family, school, and religion, accept normative social paradigms as being in their own interest.5

During the month of May, state media attempted to conceal or distract from a series of incidents of violence, using the discourse of public morality to construct an alternate narrative. For example, on May 11, 2013, the town of Reyhanli in the province of Antakya on the border with Syria was devastated by two massive car bombs in the city center that killed 51 and injured 141 people. Minimal attention was paid to these events as the prime minister visited the United States before visiting the site of the bombing. In the immediate wake of these bombings, new restrictions on alcohol caught the public attention, quickly shifting the news cycle away from the tragedy and its murky roots.6 Similarly, on May 26, 2012, Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan defended his effective abortion ban by announcing that, “Every abortion is an Uludere.” He was referring to the December 2011 slaughter of thirty-four Kurdish citizens of Turkey, mostly minors, from the village of Uludere (Roboski in Kurdish). Affiliated with pro-Turkish militias, the youths were shot down by Turkish military air-craft while participating in a minor smuggling operation across the Iraqi border. The scandal increased when information emerged that the military knew the people they fired on were unarmed, and subsequent family memorials were heavily fined.7What may appear as a lack of public accountability on the part of the administration emerges instead as a media-savvy strategy in which minimal public attention on the part of state leaders combined with media monitored indirectly through corporations produces a carefully constructed, state-supported reality for mass consumption.8

The pattern was not lost on the world of online graphic media. In both cases, border-town tragedies had been overshadowed by intense regulation of the private sphere. Erdogan’s opposition to abortion fit with his frequent exhortations that women should have at least three children, and that contraception, cesarean section, and abortion were practices undermining Turkey’s power.9 Similarly, the alcohol restrictions he claimed as equivalent to consumption laws such as those in Britain or in Sweden suit his comment that anyone who consumes alcohol is an alcoholic, or his implication on May 28, 2013, that the frequently idolized founder of Turkey—Ataturk—was a drunkard.10
A kiss then punctuated the turmoil. In the week of May 20, 2013, a public announcement system in the Ankara Metro warned a kissing couple to behave more modestly. On May 25, police attempted to block metro entry to approximately a hundred couples synchronizing a kissing protest.11 As with Erdur’s work, in choosing to intervene in an otherwise innocuous incident, the police engaged the repressive forces of the state against the freedoms of a private sphere reconceived within the bounds of public morality. In doing so, it marked the limit of “spontaneous consent” for a sizable portion of the public. The predominantly urban and educated groups that have maintained hegemonic power since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 perceived themselves increasingly under siege from the rising economic and social power of Islamist groups, represented by the ruling AKP. The street protests that followed can be understood as the tipping point, where these hegemonic groups no longer submitted to the existing order, and where the state, no longer able to maintain order through spontaneous consent, resorted to a repressive state apparatus—using brute force—in order to regain power.

The protests that exploded on May 30 were ostensibly against the construction of a shopping center in Gezi Park, immediately beside Taksim Square, yet it’s clear they reflected far more than a battle between environmentalism and urban planning, or public space and corporatization. Taksim Square, marked by a monument to the nation’s founders on one end and a cultural center devoted to the performing arts on the other, is one of the most symbolic public squares in the country. Taksim Square symbolically replaced the religious public space of the historic mosque courtyard with secular urban public space for a modernized city and its shopping streets and entertainment district in neighboring Beyoglu. Like the long-disputed proposals for a central mosque, the proposed shopping center stood to destroy not simply the park, but also the commercial circulation of the area, as the characteristic private enterprise diffused through small businesses succumbed to corporate investment closely affiliated with the state.

The body emerged as the boundary between the independent individual and the state, as riot police convened around peaceful protesters staging a sit-in at Gezi Park.12 The protesters held books open in front of the police. The protest made literal the common Turkish phrase meydan okumak, in which the words for “square” and “to read” conjure public declamation. Elevating an everyday phrase to a new meaning in order to address a specific contemporary issue, this staged protest functioned identically to Erdur’s performance art, yet it did not require the same cultural capital to engage viewers or to be understood. Rather, photographs of young people reading against a barrier of police shields produced a potent symbol of broader attacks on academic freedom and pointed toward the far broader implications of the protests, which would soon proliferate to incorporate a broad range of conflicts between a large portion of the public and the state.13

Soon, teargas billowed across the square and other parts of the city, a terrifying echo of the Labor Day Massacre at the square in 1976. Unarmed and defenseless, protesters scrambled to the safety of shopkeepers who, acclimatized by earlier, smaller protests, kept antidotes (antacid, milk, and lemons) at hand. Protesters soon equipped themselves with makeshift gas masks (swim goggles and surgical masks) and bottles of antidote. Images of police brutality raced with reports of injuries and death. People initially spoke of dressing in black. Then, refusing to articulate mourning, they chose color instead. As protesters amassed in squares throughout Turkey and the Gezi encampment grew, the production of graphic images and the engagement in performance became as defiant an act of resistance to self-imposed silence as the protests.

The first popular meme emerged from a Reuters photograph dubbed the “woman in red.” The subject was an academic at a nearby university who had been visiting the peaceful protest when she became the target of a blast of pepper-spray.14 As she turns the other cheek, her red dress signaling rather than representing violence, the image displays a precise act of state violence against the individual, without the more disturbing images of lost eyes and bruised limbs that also characterized the protests.

Transforming this unplanned act into a sign through participatory repetition, design students at Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir enlarged the image, cutting out the woman’s face so that protesters could photograph themselves as “the woman in red.” The image was subsequently translated into Legos and then a miniature painting by Taha Alkan, which served as the cover for a special issue of NTV Tarih, a history magazine associated with the Dogan Media Corporation.15Like the “anonymous” Guy Fawkes mask of the Occupy protests, the erasure of individual identity furthered the production of a diverse yet collective voice continuing to emerge both graphically and performatively.


Subsequent photographic memes of female protesters employed far more art historically grounded connotative frameworks, reflecting the sophisticated cultural capital of the participant audience who made them viral through social media. The so-called “woman in black” photograph functioned as an aesthetic trope through the implicit iconography of crucifixion, reflecting the experience of secular yet righteous martyrdom quickly enveloping the protests. The spontaneous decision of Australian student Kate Mullen to stand in front of a police armored vehicle (TOMA) functioned as an unplanned performance with a high degree of photo-consciousness. “I noticed that there was a large group of photographers nearby and in order to emphasize the peacefulness of the protests despite the [police] violence, I decided to stand in front of a TOMA and open my arms. I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t think they would hose me down but if they did, I knew it would be an amazing photograph.”16

Anonymous, Emoticon summary of Protests in Turkey, June 2013.


Such photographs depend on familiar art historical tropes of “revolution,” the scope and objectives of which often remain unclear.17Several photographs emerged from the protests that were recognized for their resemblance to Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1834). These photographs rearticulated the myth of a spontaneous popular uprising set against the tenuous hopes of revolution, often articulated through the symbolic deployment of women’s bodies.18The initial version of this photograph showed a man clambering over a barricade, his hand holding the Turkish flag high as tear gas diffuses under streetlights. In contrast to Zeki Faik Izer’s 1933 rendition of the painting, entitled Revolution Road and familiar through numerous reproductions on history textbooks, here an anonymous everyman emerging like a phoenix from the ashes replaces both leader and masses.19 Stripping down the iconic Liberty to the basic elements of a triangular composition rooted in a barricade and topped by a flag, the image embodies the shock of familiar streets turning to war zones as the despair of loss, indicated by the smoke, competes with the hope of ultimate survival and social change.

The image began to serve multiple ideologies as Photoshop transformed the flag into a rainbow, reflecting the recognition of LGBT rights as part of a broader struggle for civil liberties across all sorts of divisions and going beyond the religious and ethnic politics of earlier generations of political struggle. A second photograph evoking the iconicity of Delacroix’s painting soon overtook the first in Internet popularity through the advocacy of rock star Patti Smith. In that version, a beautiful young woman holds her fingers in a “V for victory” sign, crossing barricades with a group of men behind her, one of whom holds a flag. As with the previous female memes, the figure, in a simple dress with a single shoulder strap, is reminiscent of the personified Liberty. The image underscores the rift between secularists and Islamists. Not only does the iconography of such images mark their reception as belonging to a cultural capital engaged with European values, but also their content speaks to the tacit collusion of the image with the segment of Turkey’s population dominating the protests.

Daniel Etter, Protests in Istanbul, 2013. A demonstrator reacts to teargas fired by Turkish police during a protest in the neighborhood Besiktas in Istanbul, Turkey, June 1, 2013.


Repeatedly re-gendered, this feminized trope of Liberty repudiated the masculine rhetoric of the prime minister’s state paternalism.20The anonymity and absence of figures underscores the anti-divisive, anti-hierarchical message of the protests as people from numerous political and ethnic groups came together in order to declare themselves a new “people.” They adopted Erdogan’s characterization of them as “looters” (çapulcu) as a mark of unified identity.21The ability of LGBT politics to supersede the politics of division was perhaps nowhere more clear than in the LGBT Pride Rally in Beyoglu, on June 30, 2013, when the a powerful slogan emerged in the call, “Where are you, my love?” and the crowd’s response, “I am here, my love.” The statement articulated not only the right of interpersonal love regardless of gender, but also the ability of all creeds to participate in the human love marshaled through the protests.22

While many images of covered women in Turkey circulated on social media, ranging from older women with a middle-class head covering who support Republican values to younger, covered Islamist women who disagree with the current regime, this aspect of the social diversity within the protests failed to produce popular memes. While conforming to popular imaginations of Islamism against secular Western democracy, the protests have been rooted in far more complex alliances, signified perhaps most potently by the decision of the muezzin of the Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan Mosque at Dolmabahçe to allow wounded protesters to take shelter at a makeshift clinic during the protests on May 31, 2013. Consequently, the muezzin lost his job and the event became reframed as desecration of sacred space in Islamist media. Thus a moment of cooperation outside of the bounds of polarized politics was rhetorically transformed to restage earlier conflicts between secularists and Islamists in Turkey.23

Anonymous, Graphic of Dervish with Rumi quotation, June 2013.


The relationship between secular and practicing Muslims rejecting state leadership emerged consistently in protest art. In graphic design, such memes included posters of the traditional cracker (kandil simidi) of the holy night of commemoration of the Prophet Muhammed’s ascension to heaven (on June 5). The repeated performance of a Mevlevi-style “whirling” ritual by a man wearing a gas mask and an unraveling shirt used the male body to transgress the boundaries between religious and secular performance.24 Such transformation of Mevlevi ritual into public performance emerged in the 1980s, as the government began to sponsor performances by the Sufi order as part of a program to include moderate Islam within state policy. Although all dervish (mystical) orders in Turkey were banned in 1924, Mevlevi approaches to Islam, rooted in the teachings of the thirteenth-century poet Mevlana Jelalledin Rumi, had long been central to elite urban approaches to Islam and remained part of private religious practice.25In contrast to more radically Islamist Sufi orders, such as the Nakshibendi, and more populist orders with leftist leanings, such as the Bektashi, the recuperation of Mevlevi practice as part of Turkey’s modern Islam in the 1980s enabled rapprochement without alienating Turkey’s secular urban elites. The inclusive message of Rumi’s poetry, embodied in the lines, “Come, come, whoever you are,” gives the secular pluralism of the protests an apparent religious dimension. Transformed into a dance, with emphasis on the performer’s physical prowess rather than on meditative ritual, the performance enables a broad range of receptive address. Religious spectators can view an act of faith in God while atheists can view a more secular expression of culture. This variance from ritual made the Mevlevi performance an effective element of a pro-Erdogan rally in Vienna.26Nonetheless, the immense popularity of the dervish meme in subsequent graphic design clearly reflects a desire on the part of many protesters to depolarize religious issues and enable multiple and liberal expressions of Islamic faith outside of state authorization. As with many of the online tropes, the anonymity of authorship enhanced the ability of online cultural producers and commentators to recycle images that connected previous responses to the evolving chain of events.

Many images self-reflexively articulated the role of social media in the protests. Several designs played on computer software installation graphics, with images of a city being replaced by trees and a slogan such as “installing democracy.” One clever image summarized the protests in emoticons. The penguin meme, emerging in response to a penguin documentary aired by CNN Turk in lieu of live coverage of the violent police repression of protests, came to signify media silence and proliferated in multiple guises.27Soon, a swan meme, representing the less internationally covered but just as brutally repressed protests taking place at Kugulu Park (Swan Park) in Ankara, joined the penguin. The protest aviary grew with the arrival of a Twitter bird wearing a gasmask and a pair of kissing lovebirds as graffiti and graphic-design.28

Burhan Ozbilici, "Protesters react as they announce the end of their protests in Kugulu Park, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, July 11, 2013."


Symbolizing the protesters’ refusal to surrender, the gasmask emerged in many guises. The gasmask became a helmet for the Turkcell bunny (mascot of Turkey’s largest cellular phone service corporation, critiqued as supporting the government despite its liberal image); fused with university logos; played on the yarn brand “knitting lady” (Ören Bayan) to become “resist lady” (Diren Bayan); and became a doily in recognition of protesting mothers joining their children in the park in response to Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu’s request for them to take their children home.29

Symbolic of Gezi Park, the image of the tree morphed into a black power fist. Submerged in water, it also served as the proverbial tip of the iceberg or lungs, signifying the park in the first order but also a metaphor between breathing and speaking freely through the mass engagement with the park. A fertile metaphor, the meme of the tree grew to encompass one of the most famous lines from Turkey’s premier Leftist poet of the early Republican Era, Nazim Hikmet, “To live as a tree, alone and free, and like a forest in siblinghood.”30

In this vein, the “standing man” protest became one of the most vital signs of individual dissent. Initially anonymous, a man began an eight-hour vigil in the middle of an eerily empty Taksim Square, facing the Ataturk Cultural Center, on the afternoon after the park had been violently cleared of protesters. Civil police began to nudge him with increasing invasiveness. Recorded by guerilla cameras, they push him, make him take off his backpack and unbuckle his belt, and check his identification papers. The action, echoing that of Erdur and realized by dancer/choreographer Erdem Gündüz, went viral both as a graphic meme and as a performative act of the most basic civil disobedience. Twenty-two people were subsequently arrested for standing.31Standing is a standard gesture of performance art, an art that often requires the elite modes of cultural capital in order to access and understand. In the context of the protests, the act of standing became a personal expression in a context where basic freedoms remain under dire threat. Before long, the gesture of reading as protest from the first day mingled with that of standing, producing a library of opposition enacted on the streets of Turkish cities.32 This development of everyday languages of irony into gestures of protest through aesthetics produces a communicative aesthetic based on popular political expression. These locally developed expressions produce an art of the people—a folk art, as it were—that has nothing to do with the “traditional” forms that have, in the modern era, often served as tropes of homogenized national identity.

Anonymous, Graphic of gasmask merged with the logo for Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, 2013. Caption reads, “Everywhere is Taksim.”

In the post-Gezi political environment, the production of politically engaged popular art has dwindled. In its stead, people have continued to search for a means of maintaining a public voice not only through protest, but also through political action. On the one hand, in proliferating grassroots meetings, people have tried to learn how to continue to talk across ingrained differences and to reduce habitualized self-censorship. On the other, they have tried to come together politically, whether through modifying traditional political parties or establishing new ones, such as the Gezi Park Party. Subsequent protest graphics, such as those supporting actions against the building of a third bridge and the destruction of the Middle East Technical University forest for a highway, continue to build on the imagery associated with the Gezi Protests. The continued use of this imagery suggests its function as an avant-garde—not, certainly, an avant-garde of aesthetic progress, but that of social leadership originally indicated in the phrase as coined by the Saint Simonian socialist Olinde Rodrigues in 1825. He proposed that the artist should “serve as [the people’s] avant-garde.” “[T]he power of the arts is in fact most immediate and most rapid; when we wish to spread new ideas among men, we inscribe them on marble or on canvas… [W]hat a magnificent destiny for the arts is that of exercising a positive power over society, a true priestly function, and of marching forcefully in the van of all the intellectual faculties…”33

Anonymous, Photomanipulated image suggesting Gezi Park as the tip of the iceberg in the shape of a tree, 2013.

Through the aesthetic mediation of social media, which enables the proliferation of anonymous tropes reworked and recontextualized by multiple authors, the art of a contemporary political avant-garde eschews the demands of markets and biennials and instead takes up leadership in the voice of the collective. This leader emerges not so much in the artist as in the flexible class of producers/consumers of imagery who have the cultural capital to engage the public without institutional backing. The anonymity of art and performance in the public sphere suggests defiance not only to the powers of censorship, but also to the powers of the market that require an author’s name to serve as a brand. Rather than a politics of origins, through which speech is traced to a single owner verifying authenticity and authority, the politics of such art depends on the authorization of dispersion, in which the repercussion of ideas takes root discursively across its voices, its artists, and its actors.

Wendy M. K. Shaw is a Professor of Global Modern and Islamic Art History and Cultural Studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland. She publishes on the history and historiography of archaeology, art, art history, and museums of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey and comparative issues in postcolonial modern aesthetic practice.


  1. A couple who met at the protests got married afterwards and invited everybody to a celebration at the park. See turkiye/gezi_parkinda_capul- cu_dugunune_polis_enge- li-1142660.
  2. Originally planned as a series of artists’ interventions in different public spaces, the Istanbul Biennial was greatly reduced and forced into private venues, as the local government attempted to avoid the dangers of urban engagement after the widespread protests.
  3. Rachel Spence, “Istanbul Biennial: Best of Times, Worst of Times,” Financial Times, September 20, 2013, http://www. 204a-11e3-9a9a-00144feab7de. html#axzz2iixwT9Hc (accessed October 24, 2013).
  4. See events/118868741646493/ (accessed June 19, 2013).
  5. Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” Lenin and Philosophy, and Other Essays, trans. Ben Brewster (London: New Left Books, 1971), 127–88.
  6. Matthew Weaver, “Turkey Blames Syria Over Reyhanli Bombings,” The Guardian, May 12, 2013, (accessed June 18, 2013).
  7. Sebnem Arsu, “Premier of Turkey Seeks Limits on Abortions,” The New York Times (May 29, 2012), http://www.nytimes. com/2012/05/30/world/europe/ turkish-premier-calls-for-more- abortion-restrictions.html?_r=0 (accessed June 18, 2013).
  8. Kerem Ökten, “Why Turkey’s Mainstream Media Chose to Show Penguins Rather than Protests,” The Guardian, June 9, 2013, http://www.theguardian. com/commentisfree/2013/ jun/09/turkey-mainstream- media-penguins-protests (ac- cessed November 1, 2013).
  9. Justin Vela, “’Abortions Are Like Air Strikes on Civilians’: Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Rant Sparks Women’s Rage,” The Independent, May 30, 2013, (accessed June 2013).
  10. “‘Who are the two drunks?’ Turkish Politicians Ask after PM’s Remarks,” Hürriyet Daily News, May 29, 2013, (accessed June 19, 2013). On the idolization of Ataturk, see Edhem Eldem, “Turkey’s False Nostalgia,” The New York Times, June 16, 2013, (accessed June 18, 2013).
  11. Ariel Ben Solomon, “Activists in Ankara Hold Massive Kissing Protest,” The Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2013, (accessed June 18, 2013).
  12. Heghnar Watenpaugh, “Learning from Taksim Square: Architecture, State Power, and Public Space in Istanbul,” The Huffington Post Blog, June 14, 2013, (accessed June 19, 2013); Jennifer Kabat, “Turkish Protester’s War on Bad Architecture,” Salon Magazine, (accessed June 19, 2013); and Vasif Kortun, “The Failure of a Project: Gezi Park and more,” New Museum Blog, June 20, 2013, (accessed June 21, 2013).
  13. Ceylan Yeginsu, “In Turkey, Scholars Protest Threats to Academic Freedom,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 7, 2013, (accessed November 1, 2013).
  14. Reuters, “‘Woman in red’ sprayed with tear gas becomes symbol of Turkey protests,” New York Daily News, June 4, 2013, (accessed June 24, 2013).
  15. Stepping out of line with the mainstream media’s failure to report on the protests, the special issue was blocked from distribution. Hazal Özvarıs, “NTV Tarih’i kapattıran Gezi Parkı sayısı çok yakında özgür medyada,” T24, July 1, 2013, (accessed July 3, 2013).
  16. Mahmut Hamsici, “TOMA’nın önüne neden geçtim?” BBC Türkçe, June 25, 2013, (accessed June 25, 2013).
  17. Paul Mason, Why It Is Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (London: Verso, 2013).
  18. “Turkey Protest Photo Shows Epic Resemblance to Delacroix Painting,” The Huffington Post, June 19, 2013, (accessed June 24, 2013).
  19. The painting can be seen at (accessed June 25, 2013). For further discussion, see Wendy M. K. Shaw, Ottoman Painting: Reflections of Western Art from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 175–76
  20. Zeynep Kurtulus Korkman and Salih Can Aciksoz, “Erdogan’s Masculinity and the Language of the Gezi Resistance,” Jadaliyya, June 22, 2013, (accessed June 25, 2013).
  21. Luke Harding, “Turkish protesters embrace Erdogan insult and start ‘capuling’ craze,” The Guardian, June 10, 2013, (accessed June 25, 2013).
  22. “Tens of Thousands Turn Out for Istanbul’s LGBT Pride Parade,” The Gaily Grind, June 30, 2013, (accessed July 3, 2013).
  23. “Bezmi Alem Valide Sultan Camisi revire döndü,” Radikal, June 3, 2013, (accessed June 24, 2013).
  24. The Belgian dancer Luk Sips had also performed such a ritual while wearing a gas mask at anti-nuclear power protests in Kadikoy in 2012, but this performance was probably by a Vienna-based dancer/choreographer of Turkish origin whose identity was not revealed in the media.
  25. Metin And, “The Mevlana Ceremony,” The Drama Review: TDR, 21:3 (September 1977), 83–94.
  26. Rusen Timur Aksak, “Pro-Erdogan Demo: ‘Wien ist mit dir!’,” da Standard, June 23, 2013, (accessed June 15, 2013).
  27. “In Turkey, Penguins Become Symbol of How Media Missed the Story,” Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, June 5, 2013, (accessed June 24, 2013).
  28. Yaman Kayabali, “Occupygezi: Gezi Protests in Turkey,” guest blog, V & A Museum, June 16, 2013, (accessed November 1, 2013).
  29. “Mothers of protesters join demos by forming human chain in Gezi Park,” Hürriyet Daily News, June 13, 2013, (accessed November 11, 2013).
  30. I translate this as “siblinghood” because, while awkward in English, the non-gendered nature of Turkish is important in the idea’s inclusivity.
  31. Kerem Nisancioglu, “Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ captured attention, but protest doesn’t stand still—it forms assemblies,” The Independent, June 25, 2013, accessed June 25, 2013,–it-forms-assemblies-8672456.html (accessed November 11, 2013); Daniel Bakir, “Der stehende Mann wird zur Protest-Ikone,” Der Stern, June 18, 2013, (accessed June 25, 2013).
  32. George Henton, “In Pictures: The Taksim Square Book Club,” Al Jazeera, June 24, 2013, (accessed June 29, 2013).
  33. Olinde Rodrigues, quoted in Matei Calinescu, The Five Faces of Modernism: Modernism, Avant-garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Post-Modernism, 2nd ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987), 101.

@ the conversation by Judith Mayer

Another recognition by a woman journalist…

copied from :  (13.04.2016)

Danseurs debout à Gezi Park : performance et contestation sociale

Lors du soulèvement social de juin 2013 à Istanbul, suite au projet gouvernemental de raser le parc Gezi pour y construire une caserne à l’ottomane abritant un centre commercial, nombre de symboles ont fleuri, relayés en ligne et dans les médias du monde entier. Parmi ces représentations, la performance du chorégraphe Erdem Gündüz a fait date. Le 17 juin 2013, il reste immobile plusieurs heures place Taksim face à l’AKM (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi) – centre culturel et opéra, lui-même voué à disparaître au profit d’une nouvelle mosquée – avant d’être rejoint par d’autres contestataires silencieux, puis imité à travers le pays et même le monde au cours des jours qui suivent.

Ce geste, s’il ne traduit pas d’intention politique nette, s’inscrit dans la dynamique étudiée par Yves Citton dans son essai Renverser l’insoutenable. À cet égard, il convient de souligner l’importance de la visibilité en régime médiocratique (selon la terminologie d’Yves Citton) pour qualifier l’efficacité d’un geste ambigu par nature. En deçà du désir revendiqué par le danseur d’agir en anonyme, des tensions sont néanmoins à l’œuvre entre les artistes impliqués dans la lutte, qui rendent compte, face à la figure d’un pouvoir autoritaire, d’un paradoxe entre posture et imposture.

À l’origine, le mouvement #OccupyGezi

Le sit-in qui a mis le feu aux poudres n’avait d’autre ambition que de dénoncer la dégradation de l’espace public. Or, quand les quelques militants écologistes qui ont élu domicile dans ce petit parc séparant la place Taksim du quartier d’Harbiye ont été délogés manu militari le 28 mai 2013 et les jours suivants (les travaux avaient commencé le 27), des manifestations de plusieurs centaines de milliers de personnes s’ensuivent pendant une dizaine de jours à Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir et d’autres villes dans tout le pays, voire à l’étranger. Ce phénomène, étiqueté du mot-clé #OccupyGezi sur les réseaux sociaux, fait écho aux printemps arabes, aux mouvements Occupy Wall Street de 2011 et des Indignés en Espagne. Brutalement réprimées par les forces de police, ces manifestations font l’objet de traitements médiatiques contradictoires.

Aussitôt rapportées à l’international mais pas du tout évoquées dans les médias locaux, à l’exception notoire de quelques médias d’opposition, elles rencontrent une certaine écoute de la part du Président Abdullah Gül, qui déplore l’excès de violence de la police, avant d’être condamnées vigoureusement par le premier ministre, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (devenu, depuis août 2014, Président à son tour). Il baptise les manifestants « capulçu », autrement dit « racaille ». En comparant les manifestants à des terroristes, en sollicitant ses propres partisans pour faire front face à leurs assauts (il affirme ainsi mobiliser un million d’électeurs pour descendre dans la rue en guise de soutien), Erdoğan compte rétablir non seulement l’ordre, mais aussi son image de chef d’État protecteur et paternaliste aux yeux de son vaste électorat traditionaliste. De fait, la foule des manifestants se compose de rejetons de la classe moyenne, diplômés, dont la moitié a moins de 30 ans.

Pendant deux semaines, le parc Gezi devient donc le bastion d’une résistance à la transformation de l’espace public, au sens propre comme au sens figuré : il s’agit de préserver la liberté de pensée et d’expression contre le musellement. S’il s’avère très vite que les revendications d’OccupyGezi (Direngezi, en turc), ne reproduisent ni celles du Printemps arabe ni la contestation anti-capitaliste dont elles semblent s’inspirer, elles traduisent la lassitude d’une frange de la population face à l’autoritarisme grandissant. D’emblée, l’humour et le détournement deviennent les instruments d’une rébellion intelligente non seulement par la maîtrise des échanges en ligne, mais surtout par une juste perception des effets d’amplification en jeu dans une société communicationnelle.

De fait, les manifestants s’approprient deux éléments caractéristiques de la mainmise du pouvoir : puisque CNNtürk a soigneusement évité de couvrir les événements de la nuit du 31 mai au 1er juin, en diffusant un documentaire sur les pingouins, le manchot devient un emblème de la résistance, au même titre que le terme çapulcu, décliné à l’envi dans les pancartes, les slogans et les photos de profil des usagers de Facebook et twitter qui revendiquent leur tendance « chapulleuse ». En outre, ils sont soutenus par bon nombre de professionnels de la publicité qui dédient leurs sites à l’événement et contribuent même à acheter, grâce à une levée de fonds bouclée en quelques jours, une pleine page dans le New York Times pour alerter l’opinion internationale.

Ainsi, les Chapulleurs bénéficient très vite de la bienveillance des pays occidentaux – opinion publique et gouvernements – et même du Maghreb où Erdoğan est en visite au cours des premiers jours de la révolte. S’il persiste à vouloir mettre fin au mouvement de façon autoritaire, faisant arrêter des centaines d’émeutiers, ainsi que des journalistes, cela signe aussi l’arrêt de la coupe des arbres. Le 15 juin, l’ensemble des manifestants est évacué. Le chef du gouvernement ayant interdit l’accès au parc et à toute manifestation sur la voie publique, il semble avoir repris le contrôle. C’est sans compter sur de nouvelles formes de résistance passive.

Le 17 juin 2013, à 18h…

« Duran adam » et l’usage des médias

Le 17 juin à 18h, Erdem Gündüz se poste sans préavis sur la place Taksim, entre la statue d’Atatürk et l’AKM, vêtu d’une chemise blanche et d’un pantalon noir, muni d’un sac à dos. Passant d’abord inaperçu, il est peu à peu approché par des badauds intrigués. Son sac est fouillé – probablement par des policiers en civil – mais comme il ne contient que de l’eau et des biscuits, nulle raison de l’interpeller. Une chaîne de télévision lui tend un micro, il ne répond pas. Aucune action ne peut donc être entreprise contre lui, puisqu’il se contente de stationner sans troubler l’ordre public. Il reste immobile et silencieux jusqu’à 2 heures du matin, rejoint entre-temps par des centaines de personnes, protégé par des chaînes humaines.

Le mouvement est cependant dispersé par la police à 2h ; Erdem Gündüz peut s’éclipser tandis que des dizaines d’autres personnes sont arrêtées. Or, en une nuit, le mot-clé #duranadam – « homme debout » en turc – est utilisé plusieurs dizaines de milliers de fois sur les réseaux sociaux, au point de susciter l’imitation du geste, dès le lendemain sur la place, où une jeune femme, les yeux bandés, fait mine de lire Kafka, puis ponctuellement dans différents lieux, partout au monde, en guise de soutien au mouvement. Guillaume Perrier, correspondant du Monde, estime qu’il a peut-être inventé une nouvelle manière de manifester.

Le génie de ce geste tient sans doute à une conjonction de plusieurs facteurs. D’abord, il est remarquable parce qu’accompli dans un lieu aussi chargé symboliquement que Taksim, où se situe le parc Gezi. Sur la place est érigée une statue d’Atatürk, mais aussi le centre culturel qui porte son nom, couvert d’une banderole à son effigie encadrée par deux drapeaux turcs, que contemple fixement le danseur, attirant ainsi le regard sur les valeurs incarnées par ces symboles républicains.

C’est bien sûr aussi la place où les émeutes ont commencé, mais également le centre névralgique de manifestations du 1er mai longtemps interdites suite à l’attaque des syndicats de gauche par les Loups gris d’extrême droite en 1977. Mais surtout, Erdem Gündüz dit avoir eu l’idée, alors que la place est redevenue calme, de se tenir exactement dans l’angle des caméras qui retransmettent aux chaînes turques l’image d’un lieu visiblement repassé sous contrôle. Le danseur, en jouant le grain de sable dans la mécanique, fait en sorte que son geste, aussi ténu soit-il, soit remarqué, capté par des objectifs, montré, relayé.

Rester debout

Cette démarche correspond tout à fait à la définition qu’Yves Citton donne du geste. Le chercheur estime en effet que l’idéal révolutionnaire des siècles passés ne s’applique plus aux sociétés contemporaines. Ce qu’il appelle « l’insoutenable » se caractérise par ce qui devient insupportable et inacceptable dans le fonctionnement capitaliste, qui suppose à la fois un asservissement physique à un système machinique et une grande concentration pour en éviter les inévitables dysfonctionnements. Pour enrayer un tel système, il suffit parfois d’une légère déviation. À cet égard, « duran adam » suscite l’exemplarité et la contagion.

Erdem Gündüz réalise un geste imprévu, très simple à reproduire et à comprendre, dont la typologie ne correspond pas au registre des actes d’insoumission (poing levé, marche, jet de projectiles, cris, pancartes…), dans un décor chargé de signification, et dont la représentation va devenir virale. En cela, il s’agit bien d’une création, d’une performance, en d’autres termes d’un happening. Il revêt dès lors le statut d’« hypergeste », « un geste qui réveille d’autres gestes ».

Même s’il se déroule toujours originellement au sein d’un espace particulier, le geste transcende donc cet espace grâce à sa force de propagation. Il est intenable, non seulement en ce qu’il ne tient dans aucun espace prédéterminé et tend à déborder toute frontière, mais surtout en tant qu’il conduit à reconfigurer l’espace même dans lequel il prend place :

Le geste n’est pas un simple déplacement spatial : il décide, libère, et propose une nouvelle modalité du « se mouvoir » […] Le geste de rébellion ne sait pas originellement quelle sera sa fin : il est moyen sans fin au sens où, en se propageant, il réveille d’autres gestes, et où c’est en gagnant de l’amplitude qu’il se détermine. […] Le geste se situe en effet à mi-chemin entre les fonctions réflexes, incorporées au plus profond de mes réactions motrices automatisées, et les processus de subjectivation qui questionnent mon identité et ma situation au sein du monde social.

Ainsi, Erdem Gündüz, qui s’est employé au cours de cette soirée de juin 2013 à ne rien faire et qui le revendique par la suite dans les médias internationaux (Spiegel, L’Express…) en répétant qu’il n’a lui-même aucune importance au regard de la violence et des manifestants morts pour la cause, il aura entretenu ce qu’Yves Citton appelle

une « insoumission sourde […], une [esquisse] de contre-conduite moléculaire à peine perceptible mais préparant le terrain à des renversements soudains de pouvoir ». En effet, « ce qui fait l’efficacité d’une contre-conduite est sa capacité à devenir geste, c’est-à-dire à transformer une pression individuelle infinitésimale en une pression médiatique potentiellement incontrôlable ».

En fait, par ce geste, et quel que soit finalement le déséquilibre dans le rapport de forces entre le pouvoir et la rue, le performeur a retourné la prise à son avantage, car il utilise le même canal que le chef de l’état dans la bataille des images, sans prêter le flanc à aucune déformation possible de son discours – ce qu’il prend bien soin de souligner par la suite en disant qu’il n’est pas politisé, qu’il préfère parler de danse, qu’il passe par la physicalité pour s’exprimer.

C’est précisément en « médiocratie » que la force du geste peut être entérinée. Désignant un régime pseudo-démocratique, la médiocratie s’inscrit selon Yves Citton sous le règne de la moyenne (moyenne des votes, moyenne des opinions, a fortiori médiocrité de la gouvernance), a contrario d’une démocratie qui donnerait vraiment les pleins pouvoirs au peuple ; ce néologisme détermine surtout des systèmes politiques régis par les médias, plus exactement le « système de circulation des images, des sons et des discours dans lequel nous baignons tous et que certains exploitent avec habileté ».

En somme, la performance d’Erdem Gündüz représente bien « un hypergeste […] au croisement d’une montée de pression et d’une médialité amplifiante » susceptible de conduire à un renversement grâce à la mobilisation générale. Le danseur se présente comme un humble rouage de cette mobilisation à grande échelle à laquelle il contribue, détournant l’attention de sa personne ; cependant, il s’est délibérément mis en scène.

Genèse du geste d’Erdem Gündüz

Plus étonnant, et de façon inexplicable, Erdem Gündüz n’a jamais avoué combien son travail est tributaire de celui d’une chorégraphe qu’il fréquente et connaît bien, Defne Erdur. Certes, pour singulier qu’il soit, l’acte de rester immobile n’est pas complètement nouveau dans l’imaginaire de la protestation en Turquie. Ariane Bonzon (journaliste de Slate), poste fin juin un tweet vers l’extrait d’un film de 1979 où l’acteur Cüneyt Arkin est à genoux, immobile face à la foule puis interpellé par la police.

Que la reproduction soit volontaire ou pas, c’est un signe supplémentaire de l’efficacité de ce geste sur les consciences. Quoi qu’il en soit, ce concept, appliqué par Erdem Gündüz, avait d’abord été expérimenté par Defne Erdur, qui avait prévu dès le printemps 2013 un cycle de performances mensuelles intitulé « in between prayers », consistant à « ne rien faire » dans différents lieux importants de l’espace public. Fin avril 2013, elle reste ainsi debout plusieurs heures devant le tribunal de Çağlayan, pour signifier d’une part l’importance d’une telle institution censée rendre la justice et d’autre part pour en éprouver les limites : au nom des principes démocratiques, n’es l’espace public à sa guise ?
Defne Erdur 4 heures debout devant le Palais de justice d’Istambul.

Le jour où les émeutes de Gezi éclatent, elle comptait s’immobiliser face au parc en émoi, ce qu’elle annonce justement à Erdem Gündüz croisé en route. Pendant quelques dizaines de minutes, elle a tenu parole, mais les affrontements l’ont obligée à interrompre sa démonstration pour fuir les jets de gaz lacrymogène, de sorte que sa représentation est alors passée inaperçue, noyée dans la foule.

Dans la presse, seul Guillaume Perrier mentionne le nom de la chorégraphe dans un article du Monde daté du 23 juin, expliquant qu’elle est à l’origine du procédé. Au préalable, il souligne toutefois qu’Erdem Gündüz a refusé de prendre le premier rôle dans ce mouvement. Si ce dernier en refuse la paternité, il peut avoir jugé inopportun de faire allusion au travail de Defne Erdur. En outre, puisqu’il a fait l’économie d’un discours sur ce geste et qu’il revendique une action solitaire – ce qui évite toute tentative de dissolution d’un éventuel collectif – il pourrait sembler malvenu de mettre en danger ses confrères, d’autant qu’il a lui-même très vite eu mauvaise presse dans les organes proches du pouvoir.

Pourtant, c’est bien lui qui devient une icône dans les médias du monde entier, est en lice pour le prix Sakharov pour la liberté de l’esprit et reçoit le prix international des médias M100 à Potsdam en septembre. Il jouit donc d’une renommée mondiale qu’il n’a peut-être pas souhaitée, voire pas imaginée, mais c’est bien la rançon de son geste en régime médiocratique. En réalité, et malgré ses dénégations, il est porteur d’un geste qui ne peut pas rester anonyme, puisque le propre de la société des médias est d’en identifier les auteurs, à qui on prête une intention – et pas seulement un visage, un corps et un nom.

La loi du branding dans la lutte

Or, même s’il prétend le contraire, Erdem Gündüz, délibérément soumis aux lois du branding, en a recueilli les fruits : en se postant volontairement dans l’angle des caméras, il faisait nécessairement de son attitude une posture. Mais n’est-ce pas le prix à payer pour sortir de l’anonymat et espérer peser dans une lutte de pouvoir par définition déséquilibrée ? Quant à Defne Erdur, elle s’incline par la force des choses : il n’est pas question de faire dissension dans son propre camp au nom d’une quelconque propriété intellectuelle, qui contreviendrait au principe même de sa démarche. De fait, elle se trouve réduite au silence, moins par l’attitude d’Erdem Gündüz que par le fonctionnement même de la société médiatique qu’elle n’a pas exploitée aussi habilement que lui.

En fin de compte, Occupy Gezi a fait long feu et les artistes turcs se retrouvent à l’issue du mouvement dans une situation préoccupante, moins que jamais soutenus par le Ministère de la Culture, à peine quelques années après Istanbul 2010, Capitale européenne de la Culture. Aujourd’hui, le nombre accru de licenciements, d’arrestations et d’emprisonnement d’intellectuels et de journalistes menace considérablement les libertés publiques en Turquie, mais atteste aussi en creux de la puissance des créateurs, dont l’indépendance d’esprit s’avère dangereuse pour le pouvoir.

Sessizliğimi yazdım…

Bu emaili Erdem’e yazdım. Cevap beklediğim için değil, içimden geçenleri dürüstçe, eski paylaşımların anısına paylaşmak istediğim için. Jam’lerde gelip benimle dans ettiğinde, hareket eden bedenimin içinde nelerin aktığını bilmeye hakkı olduğunu düşündüğüm için yazdım. Kendisinden ne yazılı, ne de sözlü bir cevap gelmedi bugüne kadar… Selamlaşmaya ve ara ara dans etmeye devam ediyoruz… Ve ne bu mesaj, ne geçen süreçteki duruşlarımıza dair konuşuyoruz. Kocaman bir sessizlik çevreliyor hala bedenlerimizi…

(Bu paylaşımı yayınlamamıştım. Ancak 2017 yazında Erdem’den gelen facebook paylaşımı üzerine yayınlamaya karar verdim. Tarihe bu da not düşülsün madem.)

From: Defne Erdur 

Date: 2013-09-25 15:40 GMT+02:00

Subject: yolun açık olsun Erdem’cim…

To: Erdem Gunduz 

Bugun taa ilk sen “durdugun” vakit yazdiklarimi ben bir kez daha okudum Erdem.

Cunku icim o zaman yazdigim kadar rahat ve ferah degil. 

Zaman gectikce derinden bir kirginlik sariyor icimi…

Bunca yilin hatiri icimi kemiriyor… Buruğum.

Garip bir haksizliga ugramislik hissi var. 

Odul aldigini ogrendigimde seni kutlamak istedim ama birsey beni tuttu. 

Sen baris odulu aldın ama benimle aranda nasıl bir baris var bilemedim ben. 

Benim iç barisim senin bana karsi tavrindan dolayi bu kadar sarsilmisken anlamını yitirdi ödül ve kutlama… üzgünüm.

Bugun Viyana’da konusacagini Viyanali sanatci bir arkadasimdan ogrendim. 

“Ne diyorsun bak Erdem konusacakmis. Sence bahsedecek mi senin de işinden?” diye bir mail geldi. 

“Hayır, benim durusumdan gene bahsetmeyecek” dedim. 

” ‘ben senin durduguna dikkat etmemisim’ demisti bana kendisi. beni gormemis, bilmiyormus.” dedim.

Ve daha beter kendimi kotu hissettim…

Erdem beni gordugunu ve benim durusumun ona dokunmus oldugunu kabul etmeyecek… 

Aytul’un yazdigini onaylamayacak… Cunku bir art council yok bu memlekette… 

Cunku ben catida durdugumda (o kadar o gece isiklari yaparak o gosteriye destek bile olmusken), 

adalet sarayında 4 saat durdugumu bilirken, 

31 mayısta ona direk “simdi de taksime agaclar icin, haksızlıklara yeter demek icin durmaya gidiyorum” dedigimde (o provaya girerken)…. 

o gormemis?!

Aynen Tayyip’in hicbirimizi gormedigi gibi sen de beni gormezden gelmissin iste Erdemcim! 

Eger hakkaten benim durusumu gormedigini ve etkilenmedigini soyluyorsan… 

Baska bir aciklama bulamiyorum ben…

Bana en cok agir gelen de bu… 

Hayatimin ilk cemberindeki danscilardan birisin sen Erdem. 

Bir cok sureci, yillardir CATIda ve okulda birlikte yasadik, yasiyoruz. 

Projeler yaptik, senin tez surecinde diğer tez öğrencilerimden ayrı zaman ayırdım, 

birlikte emek verdik- sana destek olmak icin cabaladim bir çok durumda; 

kendimce sandim ki ortak hedefleri paylasiyoruz… 

Bu “yok saymayı” sen bana yaparsan ben camida kimden ne bekleyebilirim ki artık?!  Şaşkınım…

İşte benim Taksim’de Gezi icin durusumdan bir hafta-10 gun sonra duruyorsun aynı noktada. 

ve “evet benim arkadasim, meslektasim da duruyordu. 

31 Mayısta tam burda o da aynı sebeple durmuştu. Ama gazlanmıştı. 

simdi zamanı yeri geldi ben duruyorum” diyemiyorsun. 

Bırak başkalarına demeyi, kendine diyemiyorsun. 

Esas bana en ağır gelen de bu!

Daha once de yazdıgım gibi senin durusunun cercevesi tam yerine oturdugu icin 

bunu demen seni daha az yaratici ya da daha az duyarlı, daha az degerli yapmazdi. 

Beni de daha degerli yapmazdi… 

Senin dunyadaki su anki reputasyonunu etkilemezdi beni de daha onemli falan da yapmazdi. 

Sadece ve basitce arkadasligimiza, meslektaşlığımıza sigardi o kadar… 

Hak hukuktan bahsettigimiz su gunlerde de yerini bulurdu. 

Ben de bilirdim beni goren, destekleyen ve tanıyan bir arkadasimmissin sen. 


Ama yok degilmissin…

Bunlari senden beklemek benim hatammış. Simdi fark ediyorum… 

Seni farkli bir yerde gormek benim hatammış.

Seni daha bilincli sanmak ve arkadas sanmak benim hatammis. 

Ben yanlıs yorumlamisim. Beklentiye girmişim. 

Hatamı kabul ediyorum. 

Kendimi de, seni de azadediyorum bu -mış gibi durumdan… 

Bir suru insan “simdi” seni kutluyor.

Ben seni tanidigim gunden beri kutluyordum Erdem; 

Ama kabul ediyorum artık ben kutlayamıyorum…

Çok sağlam bir tahta kırıldı!

Seni uzmek icin degil ben uzgun oldugum icin yaziyorum simdi. 

Kendimi salak gibi hissettigim icin… 

Ve artık özgür olabilmek için… 

Barışı seninle ilişkimde değil kendi kendime bulabilmek için…

Yoruldum bu konuda içimin sıkışmasından…

Yoruldum -mış gibi alakamızdan… 

Arkandan dusunduklerimi yuzune paylasmak icin yaziyorum. 

Benim insanlik ve baris anlayisima boylesi uygun oldugu icin yaziyorum.

Seni yine gordugumde hicbir sey yokmus gibi ben numara yapamayacagim icin yaziyorum. 

Durust olmak için yazıyorum.

Planlar programlar yaparken seni de dusunup, paylasimlar hayal etmemek icin yaziyorum.

Gelip de benimle dans ettiginde akışa geri donebilmek icin yaziyorum.

Dans ederken nasıl kırık bir bedenle devindigini sen de bil diye yaziyorum.

Daha fazla icimde tutup hasta olmak istemedigim icin yaziyorum. 

Yani yoluma, durmalarıma, danslarima devam edebilmek icin yaziyorum… 

Onca olayin uzerine, 

gecenin korundeki garip telefon konusmamizin uzerine

yuzyuze geldigimizde sen gelip bana bir söz söylemediğin için de yazıyorum.

Seni herseye ragmen, kendime ragmen önemsedigim için yazıyorum.

Ama artık senden hiçbirşey beklemiyorum… 

Beklememin yanlışlığını artık kabul ediyorum. 

Sen de rahat et, ben de edeyim…

Umuyorum bunları yazmış olmak beni bir nebze olsun rahatlatacak ve hayat akışıma bunca aylık iç sıkıntımı geride bırakarak devam edeceğim… 

Senin de yolun açık olsun!


not: Tekrar yuzyuze geldigimizde tabi ki ilk yazımı yazdigim zamanki soguk kanliligimi korurum Erdemcim.  

Arkadasim oldugunu sandigim icin degil, her insana gulumsedigim için sana da gulumserim… 

doing nothing, ending nothing, being nothing @ dijon


at the end

nobody saw me standing…

it was ultimately nothing that I did…

i stood for 4 more hours in the dark hotel room in Dijon.

this was the ending august performance of “in between prayers – doing nothing”

just to be able to make peace with the fact that my friend, colleague, student did not see me doing nothing…

just to be able to make peace with the fact that nobody is seen nor heard in my country these days…

who am Ii to make a deal out of not being seen by a friend, colleague or a community of friends, colleagues…

i give in. i surrender to the darkness.

i surrender to the deep inner dances i dance for myself… just for myself…

not to “do nothing”, just to end “doing nothing” and simply “being nothing”!

to be continued… (beautiful contradiction in terms…)

standing @ ImPulsTanz 2013

Following my “impressions” speech at the openning of ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival 2013 in July 14th, where I gave a very brief account of the journey I propose in my workshop “Every Body Knows”; taking participants from the one celled being to a standing human being. Just as this workshop proposes the developmental stages of a human being, my speech proposes each listener to go over this journey very quickly in their minds and come to a standing position. And I ask each and every one of the listeners to remember a thing, a reason they want to stand up for just before they stand.

Then I invite them to stand up for this then and there and also join me (in my standing all through the week out in the courtyard performing “in between prayers – doing nothing” ) and all the “standing” people in Turkey and all around the world. For justice and peace!

This video is just composed of the “impressions” speech and very small portion of this 11 days “standing”, which the video excerpts are taken from the “standing” of  the evening of 26th & the morning of 31st of July (ending day) where as the still images are from the 18th of July (beginning day).

Note 1: Video & images are shot by a still camera from Thomas Ritter’s garage and this video editing is done as a draft by Defne Erdur just to give an idea before the whole project reaches its final documentation. More detailed videos and feedbacks of standing participants will be shared for the final documentation.

 Note 2: There on the floor I have shared with the audience quotations from Steve Paxton, Marina Abromovich, and myself and explained the back ground of my standing and referred to Erdem Gündüz’ standing in Turkey (standing man) and invited everyone to take a stand for what they believe in.

@ impressions openning of ImPulsTanz 2013

in between prayers invitation @ impulstanz

This is my “impressions” speech at the openning of ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival 2013.
There I gave a very brief account of the journey I propose in my workshop “Every Body Knows”; taking participants from the one celled being to a standing human being. Just as this workshop proposes the developmental stages of a human being, my speech proposes each listener to go over this journey very quickly in their minds and come to a standing position. And I ask each and every one of the listeners to remember a thing, a reason they want to stand up for just before they stand.

Then I invite them to stand up for this then and there and also join me (in my standing all through the week out in the courtyard “in between prayers – doing nothing” ) and all the “standing” people in Turkey and all around the world. For justice and peace!

The video of all the people who joined me in this standing can be found in the next video here… I thank them all (especially Erdem Gündüz) for taking a stand!