The artists in Mother Tongue are all marked by the current political situation in Turkey, where freedom of expression and rights for women are currently under pressure. Under president Erdoğan’s rule, Turkey is moving towards more religious conservatism and an increasing will to use force against protesters and critics, with rough prosecution of critical journalists, academics and artists, as well as political activists.
Needless to say, this situation is leaving its traces in contemporary art. Media art is often characterized by being close to the politics of everyday life, and the artists in this exhibition have been important contributors at a momentous time for Turkey´s contemporary art scene, regarded as one of the most thriving in the world. The city of Istanbul especially, Oriental and European at the same time, has become a hub for contemporary art.
The six artists all use video as a central medium in their art. Being both artists and social activists, they use different ways to get the message across, from Selda Asal’s conceptual installation House of glass, CANAN’s compelling storytelling in Exemplary, to Nezaket Ekici’s use of video as performance in Human Cactus, Çağdaş Kahriman’s documentarist view point in Rear Window and Işıl Eğrikavuk’s Gül, where the artist is playing around with the audience in a game of fact versus fiction. Savas Boyraz uses a triptych video installation to shed new light on the Kurdish territorial conflict.
When it comes to Turkey, the gap between a conservative authoritarian society on the one hand, and a modern urban society with long academic and artistic traditions on the other, never ceases to fascinate. The exhibition title, Mother Tongue, refers to the Turkish writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar. In her short story collection with the same title, she addresses the experience of a double identity, being born in Turkey and growing up in Germany. Mother Tongue points towards the significance of a cultural identity, with the mother’s tongue as the source of a feminine cultural heritage, and the passing on of experiences. The publication that accompanies the exhibition can be found here, and at the bookstores Tronsmo, Oslo and Robinson Crusoe 389, Istanbul.
Mother Tongue is shown in Norway:
13 November 2015 - 10 January 2016 at Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen. In collaboration with Cinemateket in Bergen, we screened two films by female, Turkish directors, Sunday 22 November; Watchtower by Pelin Esmer and Araf - Somewhere in Between by Yeşim Ustaoğlu. Film curator: Brynjar Bjerkem.
24 February - 20 March 2016 at Buskerud Kunstsenter, Drammen, with a live performance by Nezaket Ekici the opening night. During the exhibition period we did 2+1, a text and video workshop with Drammen youngsters.
27 August 2016 at Hammerfest Kunstforening
12 - 29 January 2017 at Alstahaug Kunstforening
25 March - 8 April 2017 at Alta Kunstforening
6 May - 4 June 2017 at Bodø Kunstforening
21 September - 24 March at Oslo Museum - IKM
When Mother Tongue tours Sweden the exhibition features a 7th film that contemplates the current developments in Turkey and the current refugee crises, also affecting Europe and Sweden. The film is A Gentle Breeze Passed Over Us by Istanbul based writer and artist, Pınar Öğrenci. The artist says the following about the film "A Gentle Breeze Passed Over Us researches a deeply rooted issue: In our area of rapid transformation of social and technical changes in which our social order is not matched with our technological order...what is home and what is homeland?”
August 14 - September 1 2017 at Sense Personalkonstförening, Helsingborg
September 16 - September 20 2017 at Värmlands konstförening / Konstfrämjandet in Värmland
September 30 - October 8 2017at Söderhamns konstförening, Söderhamn
October 14 - November 12 2017 at Österängens Konsthall, Jönköping
November 19 - December 4 2017 at Skärholmens konstförening, Stockholm
November 19 - January 10 2018 at Ifö center, Bromölla
January 20 - February 9 2018 at Galleri Lyktan, Skogås
January 22 - February 18 2018 at Värmlands Kf, Karlstad University
March 3 - 25 2018 at Skådebanan, Jönköping
March 26 - 25 April 2018 at Equator Art, Stockholm
The exhibition is touring in collaboration with The Norwegian Association of Art Societies, and Sveriges Konstföreningar in Sweden.