January 4, 2015
james_gordon_losangeles @ Flickr
Nancy Kricorian** (@nancykric)
Before I leave home, I come up with a title for the Armenian Heritage Trip to Turkey: Twenty Armenians on a Bus, or The Thirty Handkerchief Tour. Our guide calls it a pilgrimage, and refers to us as pilgrims, as though we are on a religious or spiritual quest. What do I hope to find? Almost one hundred years have passed since my paternal grandmother and her family were driven from their home in Mersin in 1915, just a few months into the Ottoman government’s genocidal campaign that resulted in the deaths and exile of the vast majority of its Armenian citizens. Of her immediate family, only my grandmother and her brother survived the death march. They were among eight thousand Armenian orphans in a camp in the Syrian desert at Ras al-Ain.
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September 19, 2014
Commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: courtesy of Șalom newspaper in Turkey)
This year marks the first time that the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the day of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, was commemorated in Turkey in a semi-official manner. The Deputy Foreign Secretary, Naci Koru, attended a ceremony at Kadir Has University; Foreign Secretary Ahmet Davutoğlu and the secretary in charge of EU membership negotiations, Mevlüt Çavușoğlu, sent statements but were not present in person. It is astounding that both the Turkish-Jewish newspaper Șalom and several English-language newspapers and blogs reported almost gushingly on the ceremony. Yet, if one reads these politicians’ statements, it becomes evident that the Holocaust Remembrance Day is misappropriated here in order to – once again – deny the existence of anti-Semitism, as well as of racism and discrimination in general, in Turkey, to celebrate the myth of Turkey’s “rescue of the Jews,” and to deny the Armenian genocide.
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January 17, 2014
A scene from “12 Years a Slave.” From left: Lupita Nyongo, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor (http://goo.gl/w5cijB)
The Academy Awards have made progress in terms of racial representation. This year a film about slavery is the clear front-runner in many of the major categories, and if “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity” wins best picture, it would be the first time a movie by a nonwhite director takes the prize. It’s also possible that Lee Daniels (“The Butler”) could join Steve McQueen (“12 Years”) and Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”) to make best director a majority-minority category for the first time ever.
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January 21, 2013
Seeing Hrant’s lifeless body on a very familiar sidewalk in Istanbul prompted nightmares that every member of the Armenian community in Turkey consciously or unconsciously suppresses for the sake of sanity. For we are the best pretenders in a sea of millions of other pretenders. What unites all of us as Turkish citizens, apart from language, culture, etc. is our pretending. If I may argue, the most revolutionary quote of Mr. Orhan Pamuk regarding the realities of Turkish society is, indeed, not the one that he uttered during his interview with the Swiss magazine Das Bild. As a matter of fact, one of his main protagonists in The Black Book confesses hopelessly: “Nobody can be himself in this country… In the country of the defeated and the sheepish, to exist means to be somebody else.”
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September 18, 2012
As work began on the text of the new constitution, political parties began to announce their proposals on rights and freedoms and their proposals began to be discussed in earnest in the public sphere. One of the most noteworthy proposals on rights and freedoms—an area of such central importance to any constitution—came from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the form of a “right to learn the truth.” In their words: “Everyone has the right to learn the truth, to access substantive information about the country’s history, and to request that documents and information about this history be made public, including from government archives. There is no statute of limitations on genocide or crimes against humanity”.
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December 9, 2011
Translated by Vartan Matiossian
Last week, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan’s statement about Dersim was immediately well received in the mainstream press, and we had to wait until the weekend to read more critical articles about it. Two articles by Ayşe Hür and Prof. Taner Akçam were like an “introduction to the literature of apology,” especially for the Prime Minister himself. There may be aspects in both articles that are worth discussing, but what I want to deal with now is something quite different.
First and foremost, by apologizing you cannot undo things that have already happened. In other words, no one can be cleared of a crime, or have himself/herself absolved of it, just because he/she apologized and expressed repentance, especially if it is a genocide – a crime that has achieved the purpose of annihilating a certain group of people in line with a carefully planned and organized manner. Apology is about repentance for a situation which is irreversible and the responsibility borne in connection with it. Be it an apology given to the people of Dersim, or Armenians, or Assyrians, or Pontic and Asia Minor Greeks, or the victims of systematic torture, or Alevis, or Kurds, an apology duly given is not an end in itself, but the beginning of an endless journey against regeneration of denial by the state and amongst the general public. This is because Turkey will never be the society that it was before 1915, just like Germany will never be the Germany
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June 27, 2011
30 May 2011
Contemporary art is a production that is born out of the social life and therefore, it inevitably reflects the visual culture formed by the society. However, in today’s world where the new is constantly produced and instantly consumed, and where resisting localities, alternative discourses and practices become a meta only to be united with the system, contemporary art bares the necessity to stay at a certain distance from the visual language that society creates. Furthermore, being a step ahead of the moment is also what “contemporary” necessitates and means:
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June 18, 2011
HETQ – There is no need to prove that the vast majority of who is photographed, in comparison to the photographer (and the other project authors) is on a very low level of existence, if we can ascribe any social level at all, say, to the Sarikecili tribe living in the Taurus Mountains. This difference consists of numerous composite elements, but in this case what is more important is who has the occasion to represent the other; to photograph and tell stories.
This privilege is a benefit to those who are looking for a new language “to make cultural diversity in Turkey visible and intelligible” via the Ebru project (one can also add controllable: knowledge/power relationship). At the same time, it is obvious that “cultural diversity”, deprived of historical-geographic depth – also through the magic word ebru – frequently becomes a euphemism for those ethnic, religious and social conflicts and contradictions that are in abundant supply in Turkey today.
Turkey’s European prospects, that Ebru wants us to believe, those ideas, values and beliefs related to this prospect that the project participants, in this or that way, identify themselves with, convey definite orientalist underpinnings to the project. The representation of ethnicities and their cultures as “reflections” remove them from the cultural context, depriving them of local traits and history. They need a western gaze to be represented, to validate their existence. According to Durak, it’s as if the people looking at his camera lens wanted to say, “We exist and we are here.” For Berger, those cultures (tribal groups) are equated to the elements of nature, where love and hate, the same and the other, the eternally repeating mix and transformation are “natural” prehistoric realities, free of social and political conflicts and objectives.
For more see: http://hetq.am/eng/articles/2070/
June 11, 2011
HETQ – This May, we had the opportunity to see two photo exhibits here in Yerevan. One was an extensive exhibit of the works by the New York-based Turkish photographer Attila Durak on display at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA) entitled “Erbru – Reflections of Cultural Diversity in Turkey”. The other presented the works of French-Armenian photographer Max Sivaslian entitled “We Once Lived There…” Both are related in some way to the issue of ethnic (religious) minorities living in Turkey.
Despite the fact that Sivaslian’s photos are far removed from being documentary testimonies, that main aim of the exhibition was clear. “We Once Lived There” refers to those locales (villages, towns, neighbourhoods) where Armenians once called home – from Van to Diyarbekir and even Istanbul. Now, others live in their former homes – Kurds, Turks, and Assyrians. The photographer firstly strives to reflect on the disappearance of Armenians from these locations; they either leave or are Islamicized.
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