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AFERIM YAVRUM! Little Gestures of Cooperation

Dialogue Forum

Istanbul 14-16/10

2010


Speakers

Meltem Ahiska Silvina Der-Meguerditchian Antje Heineman HÜseyin Karabey Yasemin Özcan Kaya Estela Schindel

Moderation Banu Karaca

Concept and coordination Barbara Höffer Silvina Der-Meguerditchian Banu Karaca


“Cihangir’s streets are not very kind to pedestrians. They’re full of stones, holes, obstacles. People usually walk in the street itself. Sometimes the cars come dangerously close on their way by and force you back onto the sidewalk, but, as a rule, it’s easier to walk in the street. The cars know that and put up with you. Some of them remind you of their presence gently; others are more brutal. Walking through Cihangir is a constant to-and-fro between street and sidewalk; you try to see how many steps you can take on the sidewalk before you end up walking in the street – until the first cars come along, remind you once again that you’re trespassing on their territory, and force you back up onto the sidewalk.”


EPILOGUE AS PROLOGUE

by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

This short text about Cihangir’s streets in the previous page reflects my experience in doing the Dialogue Forum Aferim yavrum! My intention in organising it was to investigate the “absence” of the “other.” And to look deeper into the associated traumas for both the Turkish and Armenian people. This project was a next step, a next gesture in a long path: An attempt to create a context where is possible to integrate “the other” back in our own self-image. The gesture to open the dialogue forum with the artist walk “Deep Sea Fish” speaks to my desire to overcome the gap, the distance that theorization of memory and trauma can bring. In retrospect, I believe that for moments we achieved this goal, but there were also moments where “cars” full of theory came along and reminded us that we were trespassing. Let’s take to the streets again and again. And remind the cars that we will walk on the forgotten but not invisible paths.

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CONTENTS INTRODUCTION

by Banu Karaca pag.1

TEXTS & IMAGES

Eruptions and Thresholds of Memory in Turkey by Meltem Ahıska pag. 7 DEEP SEA FISH - Խորունկ Ծովի Ձուկեր by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian pag. 23 IMAGINATION CREATIVITY AND TRAUMA Processing trauma by means of artistic creation by Antje Heinemann pag. 35 THREEHUNDREDANDONE by Yasemin Özcan Kaya pag. 51 WORLDS WITHOUT NEIGHBOURS Can art heal the wounds of broken social relations? by Estela Schindel pag. 61 STATEMENT by Hüseyin Karabey pag. 73

TRANSCRIPTION OF THE DIALOGUE’S EXTRACTS

pag.76


INTRODUCTION by Banu Karaca

Initiated by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian the dialogue forum “Aferim Yavrum! Little gestures of cooperation was the continuation of the conversations and exchanges on Armenian/Turkish rapprochement that began with her first solo exhibition in Turkey at BM Suma (Istanbul, February-March 2010) under the same title. The forum wanted to create an opportunity to discuss artistic, sociological and therapeutic approaches to different aspects of trauma, violence, remembrance, politics and history in the arts. We began, with the speakers and invited participants, a conversation that aimed at exploring both the possibilities and limitations of artistic strategies of social remembrance and political responsibility in the engagement with the Armenian Genocide in a comparative perspective to other traumas and structural violence. Trying to bridge the divide between theory and practice, the participating artists and social scientists presented and discussed their works in an interdisciplinary context. What are the possibilities and limitation of artistic approaches in coming to terms with the past? How can art, if at all, contribute to reconciliation efforts? Where and how do artists struggle with impediments to freedom of expression? These were some of the questions that animated the conceptualization of this workshop. A few introductory remarks, before leading to the documentary contributions of the participants and


excerpts that reflect even if only fragments of the discussion, might give a small insight into the different facets of the subjects discussed during the workshop. It is interesting to note that this was a discussion between persons based in Germany and Turkey. Germany has in many ways, even if problematically, become a template for state-recognition of genocidal violence perpetrated during the Third Reich, and provided a context in which the transformative power of art is broadly acknowledged, both in its formation of fascist aesthetics that helped legitimize a totalitarian regime, and in thematizations of the trauma of the Holocaust. In Turkey, these discussions, including the role that art might play in confronting the past, in providing a place of alternative memory or a kind of memory work that subverts official historiography, has begun in recent years. Well known intellectuals have frequently implied that it is not only ‘the state’ but also the ‘man on the street’, the ‘sensitivities of the people’ that has foreclosed open engagements with the past. But as sociologist Meltem Ahiska (Bosporus University) argued, this foreclosure might be because of the enormity of the rupture with the past as well as the number of ruptures – violence enacted against different ethnic, religious and political groups – that have constituted a particular challenge in Turkey. This challenge manifests itself in the many silences that are also reflected in the artworks of two participating artists: The silences Der-Meguerditchian traces in her audio walk (the text of which is reprinted in the following pages).These silences also appear in the many different forms in the Istanbul-based visual artist, Yasemin Özcan Kaya’s 301. Her work reflects a silence that is formed not only in restrictions to freedom of expression, but also in gendered representations of a woman’s body adorned with a necklace that, while beautifully crafted, is also a representation of repression and practices of targeting those who publicly address uncomfortable truths. Ahiska also 1


noted a certain impossibility in the narratization of trauma; the question of how and who to remember remains an issue of debate: the victims? The perpetrators? Can they be remembered together? How can we frame questions of complicity, responsibility and shame? In her intervention Antje Heinemann, an art therapist based in Berlin, showed where psychology and psychoanalysis might give important clues to the intersection of collective and individual traumas and how they might be approached. Visualizing and drawing a mental “safe place” might present one strategy to address collective traumatic pasts, such as the Armenian Genocide, in Turkey. Comparing different strategies through which memory and loss due to state-sanctioned violence are inscribed in the urban fabric of Germany and Argentina, sociologist Estela Schindel (Heidelberg University) shows that in the latter case there is also a rejection of reconciliation. Directed towards the hegemonic and terrorizing power of the state, its actors and enactors, this rejection shows that engagements with violent pasts are not put to rest, put aside, or relegated into distant times, but remain an active part in present political struggles. While in our discussions we focused on art as an avenue to address issues where institutionalized memory fails, the aesthetic itself has its own problems. In an essay on remembrance Vincent Crapanzano stresses aesthetic dimensions as integral to commemoration and remembering. Taking monuments as an example, he however draws attention to “the contradiction between the aesthetic and the historical” by stating that: “With the aesthetic reduction of the historical, the monumentalized event suffers a loss of representational immediacy – of stature. The originating event, its first significance, is doubly displaced from the event to the monument, from the historical to the aesthetic realm” (2004, 169). Viewed in this vein, we have to take into account that artistic approaches to the past also present aestheticizations that can create both distance and proximity. But there might also be chances in the conscious calculation of these shortcomings and


problems of artistic approaches, especially when they are tied to demands for recognition and political responsibility. Hüseyin Karabey, a filmmaker based in Istanbul, suggested that in his own artistic work empathy and ability to generate empathy are driving forces; forces he believes can bring about societal change by animating the viewer to act differently. But as feelings and effect are themselves political, calls for empathy, produced aesthetically or otherwise, may themselves perpetuate asymmetries and distances between those ‘who empathize’ and those who are ‘empathized with’. While the discussions highlighted the potential of art in addressing difficult pasts, concerns where also voiced that art must not be instrumentalized in this process of memory work. To avoid the instrumentalization of art and to ensure that its potential can unfold most fully, political debates and conditions also have to change. Yet, what all the contributions to the workshop by panelists and participants had in common, and what is also reflected in the excerpts reprinted of the discussion at the end of this documentation, was the call for the de-monopolization and multiplication of memory and its sites. It is also in this way that the dialogue forum was part of an open process, an attempt to continue writing parts of history, the strands of which were violently broken. It is in this way that the conversations that were so timidly and carefully initiated over the last few years need to continue.

1 Crapanzano, Vincent. 2004. “Remembrance.” In his Imaginative horizons: an essay in literary-philosophical anthropology, pp. 148-177. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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DEEP SEA FISH, video still - 2010- S. Der-Meguerditchian


TEXTS & IMAGES

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IN BETWEEN, video still detail - 2008 – S. Der-Meguerditchian


ERUPTIONS AND TRESHOLDS OF MEMORY IN TURKEY by Meltem Ahıska

Those who are familiar with folksongs in Turkey would remember a couple of songs that would go like, “in the front yard of their houses there grows…” (mostly herbs and plants), or as in a recently popularized version, “in the front yard of their house there is a painted lamp post.”1 These songs are significant examples of anonymous yet collective oral transmission of memory that helps to mark a place or give an address in experiential terms by reference to objects in the world, that is, not by abstract labeling such as numbering that has been a vital part of modern urbanization. However, the connection of memory and place is at stake in the modern world due to the annihilation of place through a violent abstraction introduced by the so-called progress- informed by the operations of capital and modern state. The most striking feature of modernity in many places around the world has been that of dispersion and homelessness, which goes beyond scattered experiences and leads to a major structural transformation of experience named as ‘transcendental homelessness’ by Lukacs. Then, memory in modern world, as David Lowenthal (1985) argues, is also defined by displacement of large segments of society due to industrialization, wars, massacres, forced exiles and immigrations. The sense of belonging to place has lost its ‘organic’ meanings only to be re-marked in the symbolic realm as longing for the lost place or the past as a ‘foreign country.’ I would like to dwell on some scenes from the recent and rapidly shaping ‘memory culture’ in Turkey in the light of the above-mentioned connection between memory and place, and its inevitable disjuncture and fragmentation today. I would like to draw attention to the impossibility of reconstructing the primary ties between memory and place, hence the fragility of forging a

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representation of identity in connection to memory. Yet, at the same time, narratives of memory are proliferating in the public space more than ever today, and constantly urging us to make new connections between the present demands for justice and the past, mostly, in the form of experiences of loss and displacement. What appear in the current crisis of the hegemonic national narrative of history in Turkey, are the painful remains of a foreclosed past. What to do with them? The question is especially significant if we would like to politicize memories and seek justice in their footsteps. ‘Remembering the past’ has recently become a popular subject in Turkey not only in academic circles but also in different venues ranging from art exhibitions, films, books, newspaper articles to television programs; a phenomenon not independent of the current explosion of memory narratives all around the world as scholars of memory note. However, despite the general trend of the memorial turn, every cultural context has its own historical patterns of forgetting and ways of coming to terms with ‘social traumas’. Tanıl Bora defines the repression of the past in Turkey as ‘militant forgetting’ (2009:8). “Early Republic has not only prohibited facing the traumas in which the elite or the groups of its own population were the agents or culprits, but also those that benefited them” (Ibid). Bora here thinks of the Caucasian and Balkan migrations and the exchange of populations at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, as examples of ‘beneficiary’ traumas, while the list of traumas associated with guilt and complicity are numerous, starting with the Armenian massacres and genocide and extending to the present day. I find the word ‘militant’ highly explanatory since it signifies many aspects of the situation at once: the enormous and radical rupture with the past, the involvement of force in the prohibition of memories and in the fabrication of a national memory, and the impact of denial and repression on everyday life by way of building a certain


habitus. Bora dwells on this last point by saying that we cannot describe the situation in Turkey simply as refusal of heritage but we should think of its pervasiveness through the concept of habitus- a certain mode of daily conduct and habit reinforced mainly by the economic and social gains. The governments also have relied on this kind of oblivion, and reproduced it as ‘normal’ and desirable behavior, as exempflied in the words of Süleyman Demirel, one of the most persistent figures in Turkish politics: “The people are like fresh fruit, their lives are daily” (cited by Bora, 2009: 8). I must note the irony that while Demirel described the ordinary people as lacking any long-term memory, he was himself recognized as a man with an incredible capacity to remember2. The irony is significant to reveal how those in power could value memory while sentencing ‘the people’ to oblivion. The hegemonic militant forgetting, both in the sense of the forceful imperative to forget and the comforting or ‘beneficiary’ habit to forget, that has been the backbone of Turkish ‘history’ creates a peculiar atmosphere for memory work today. Every attempt to forge a memory narrative against or on the margins of official history produces, and is likely to produce conflict and contestation. Even the more mainstream representations of traumatic events, such as television serials on the near past are fiercely debated. For example, the TV serials Hatırla Sevgili or Bu Kalp Seni Unutur mu? that both dwell on the traumatic political events of the past, including the violent military coup of 1980 and the terrifying Diyarbakır prison, have attracted criticism from both the so called right and left camps3. However the debate is more about how to represent the past today, then mere political disagreements on the course of events. It is as if the claim itself -to represent the contentious past through a particular imagery and narrative fabricated for the purpose- produces discontent apart from the inevitable alienation involved in turning the traumatic past into an enjoyable spectacle. The narrativization is bound

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to stay incomplete and dissatisfactory in its claim of representation as long as several witnesses, victims and inheritors of these or other ‘social traumas’ bear affects that have not been publicly recognized. While some scholars see a pedagogical merit4 in these media representations for coming to terms with the past, the debate concerning how to remember the past is far from being resolved. The impossibility of narrativization of ‘social trauma’ is not only a problem of media representations; legal or political narratives are not less problematic. For example, the continuing ‘Ergenekon’ court cases that had disturbing effects on society by revealing the plans and archives of past conspiracies cooked within the ‘deep state’ as well as the horrifying remains of previous state operations, such as unidentified corpses and weapons buried under the ground, attempt to forge a narrative endorsed by the present AKP regime that Turkey now steps into democracy by getting rid of the shameful past. However, the found ‘evidences’ and legal actions have no direct power in resolving the burning question of how to remember the past. The court cases have triggered the proliferation of memory narratives that reveal past atrocities -of course only in a selective way- yet they also lead to further dissociation5, bitterness, cynicism, and violence in society as can be observed in the present conflictual political atmosphere. The trauma of dealing with the past traumas is overwhelming (Sancar, 2007:259). Furthermore the counter attacks against the investigations cast doubt on the meaning of the past. For example, when the military regards ‘Ergenekon’ as a ‘psychological operation’ against itself and the nation, it makes an impact on society as still one of the most powerful and most trusted institutions in Turkey. The society, which is already fractured by several conflicts of class, gender and ethnicity is perplexed what to own and disown in terms of the memories of the past. The old strategies of the state that opts for militant forgetting and denial continue to be at work while simultaneously it is


no longer possible to contain memories, as it were, in the ‘black box’ of the official history; there are spills and fragments allover. Another vital aspect of the question at hand is how to define and classify ‘social traumas’. As Roth and Salas argue, ‘trauma’ is a medical term only used for collectivities after 1980s, and what “spurred and shaped this nonmedical interest in trauma was the development of Holocaust studies” (2001:2). Leaving aside the discussion of -whether ‘social trauma’ is a meaningful term6, in the case of Turkey, one can list so many events that could be associated with social traumas’, from the Armenian genocide to violent crushing of various rebellions; from the military coups to both legal and illegal attacks on minorities; from the war against the Kurdish to massacres of Alevi populations. Each has it own perpetrators and victims in a specific context, yet all seems to be connected to each other in a historical pattern. But how is it possible to remember all of these, and in what order? And who is going to remember? Only the victims? Or all of society including the perpetrators, accessories, and their inheritors? These questions deserve further thinking and theorizing. The subject of social memory has only recently become a public issue, and a small number of scholars, experts and journalists sometimes come together in forums, workshops or conferences to talk about the problems of social memory in Turkey. In one of these forums7, in which I also participated, the discussion in the concluding session was significant to raise the above question regarding as to what should be prioritized among the several past and present ‘social traumas’ in Turkish history. The question was rather frustrating since all of these seem important and have had big impacts on social and political life. I would say that the discussion ended in a mood of bewilderment in the sense that we cannot even agree on a shared past to work through. Mithat Sancar finds Turkey dissimilar in this respect to many other countries that he has

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IN BETWEEN, video still - 2008 – S. Der-Meguerditchian


studied. He argues that while in other countries, one big event, either a military dictatorship, civil war, genocide or massacres, holds a central position, in Turkey, events similar to all of these has come one after the other, and have been intertwined. Each event belongs to different part of a long history, some in the distant, some in the near past. So, there is a layering of ‘social traumas’ shielded by a thick and hard crust, the breaking of which is and could be very painful (Sancar, 2007: 259). Many intellectuals accept the debilitating power of the past in Turkey and raise their voice against the mood of bewilderment emphasizing the need or the duty to remember. For example, Murat Paker argues strongly for devising strategies and mechanisms for coming to terms with the past by employing terms such as ‘counter-psychological operation’ as opposed to the claims of the military. According to him, despite the feelings of bitterness and hopelessness, Turkey has indeed achieved many results in revealing past atrocities and fighting against them. One needs decisively to go further, and if the question of what to start with perplexes us, we should prioritize “the black pages that have actual and burning impact, that is, have the highest potential to effect the daily lives of the people. These definitely would be events such as Ergenekon like (deep) state operations and the Turkish-Kurdish problem”8 (2009: 31). Paker insists on the idea that democratization should be a necessary part of coming to terms with the past, and the goal should be “to re-start relationships with what are deemed as Other in a more mature, ethical and genuine way, and to build humane grounds based on equivalence” (2009: 30). One way to establish this is to build truth commissions, according to Paker. Discussion of truth commissions and their applicability in Turkey goes beyond the scope of this essay, however, I would like to problematize one idea in the above-mentioned and similar approaches: the will to remember. We could discuss this question in relation to its two aspects: the relationship of memory and conscious-

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ness, and memory and power. As Pierre Nora (1989) argues, memory in modern society has become individualized; rather than being based on shared collective traditions and rituals, there is dutymemory that orients the individual to construct a past for himself/herself. In this sense, modern memory is archival and looks more like history than memory, according to Nora. There is indeed a big paradox involved in the idea of voluntary or duty memory. Freud made clear that consciousness is a shield against disturbing stimuli, and “becoming conscious and leaving behind a memory trace are processes incompatible with each other within one and the same system” (cited in Benjamin, 1969: 160). In other words, the individual consciousness crafts a memory or a screen memory, which is based on forgetting and distortion, yet may seem more real than the traumatic traces of memory. In the case of trauma, the traumatic shock breaks through the protective shield to have long lasting effects. That is why traumas cannot be articulated in coherent narratives unless they are retroactively worked through their symptoms. We know from the psychoanalytical literature that the unconscious registers of traumas may lead to different pathologies in human beings. The same would be true for societies and/or collectivities, at a metaphorical level. Then how to deal with memory if it defies a conscious expression and is only elusive? It is interesting that memory is at once very real in its impact yet its reality cannot be determined in a positivistic way. It is expressed through distortions and absences, such as the slip of the tongue or forgetting of proper names that Freud discusses in Psychopathologies of Everyday Life (1995). Forgetting is the very reality of memory. However, forgetting should not be regarded as mere erasure or absence. As Ricouer would argue the traces of memory and their image persist in forgetting (2004). Ricouer makes an important move based on this argument to connect the past with future, the retrieving of a past image with anticipation. ‘Founding forgetting’, in his terms, is different


from ‘destructive forgetting’, and functions as a reserve or resource for future remembering (2004:440). The difference, although not at all easy to delineate, seems to lie in the ‘uses and abuses’ of forgetting. The destructive forgetting based on negation that power structures impose on people entails the effacement of traces of memory substituting them with fabricated narratives. “Forgetting then designates the unperceived character of the perseverance of memories, their removal from the vigilance of consciousness” (Ricouer, 2004: 440). The question is therefore, how not to replace forgetting with an obsession of memory, but instead, how to deal with the ‘untransmissible’ traces that forgetting contains? “In all of this, the pathological structure, the ideological conjuncture, and the staging in the media have, on a regular basis, compounded their perverse effects, while the passivity of excuses has joined forces with the active ruses of omission, blindness, and negligence. The famous ‘banalization’ of evil is in this regard simply a symptom-effect of this stubborn agglomeration. The historian of the present day, then, cannot escape the major question regarding the transmission of the past: Must one speak of it? How should one speak of it?” (Ricouer, 2004: 452). The importance of Ricouer’s elaborate questions should be clear. Forgetting as the structure of memory is significant because it contains untransmissible traces that have potential recognizability in the future. However, the problem is, who is going to administer forgetting/ remembering, and for what purposes? Whose memories are more important than others? How are they going to be represented? Definitely the power structure is at stake here. As Cheryl Natzmer argues in the case of Chile, “telling the story of a nation’s past is a highly political act involving struggles over whose stories will be remembered and preserved and whose memories will be repressed or forgotten. The ownership of memory is a question of power” (2002: 161). In this context, rather than joining in the con-

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IN BETWEEN, video still- detail - 2008 – S. Der-Meguerditchian


scientious moves in Turkey that pose remembering as a duty, I would attempt to approach the question from a different angle, and argue that, instead of voluntarily re-constructing various narratives of memory from the margins and giving them an intelligible and hierarchical order mostly for the sake of re-writing national history, we have to take notice of involuntary eruptions of memory to conceive the thresholds of collective memory. By thresholds, I mean the borders erected between intelligibility and non-intelligibility, or to put it in more psychoanalytical terms, between conscious articulations that necessarily entail some distortion of memory, and unconscious motivations that bear the scattered memorial records. Threshold can also be conceptualized as the lowest point at which a stimulus sensation can be perceived in consciousness. In sociological terms, I would say that the collective threshold is maintained through performances of power that separates the representable from the unrepresentable, the sayable from unsayable, the remembered from what should be forgotten. Therefore the thresholds, although not actual places per se, can be considered as anonymous sites, which contain the traces of fractured memories. As Silvina Der-Meguerditchian poignantly captures the experience of forced exile of Armenians from Turkey in her short film In-Between, it is as if a road propels memories into unwanted destinations separating them from the place of memory. The text in the film reads: “As if the road was guarded, as if you were driving somewhere where perhaps you don’t want to go. As if you had a wall around you or land, I do not know…” The road here is more than a metaphor, it is a built medium guarded by ‘walls or land’ that gives a new shape to memories by the actual movement of going, and which consequently makes them representable in a certain way; yet the road also produces loss and longing by pushing one forward leaving behind the silenced remains of memory that one cannot talk about. Road

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painfully breaks the remembering subject as well: “he is facing the road but one part of his head is not there…Something has been stolen from him, something large enough to make him feel obliged to find it and gather himself.” Road in this context is a significant example of threshold in my view. In that sense, thresholds do not reveal any identity or belonging but only the anonymous (yet monitored and channeled) registers of loss and trauma. Threshold is both a social (and spatial) and a psychological category, that has it complex formation and variations sensitive to time and changes, albeit contains materiality, certain fixity and continuity in history. A threshold comprises of movement but also of immobility, of proximity but also of distance. “You are here with me, and yet you are somewhere else,” says the text in Der-Meguerditchian’s film. Yet mostly thresholds are normalized and remain unnoticed. Roads after all signify progress and development in our contemporary world. The representations of the past usually take the present as a ‘normal’ and ‘transparent’ vantage point from which one sees the past. However if one’s eyes were dazzled by the light of the present, then most probably the past would just be a shadow without any substance. The lights that come from the epoch should be neutralized in order to discover its obscurity, its special darkness. (Agamben, 2009). Reflecting on the question of ‘what is the contemporary’, Agamben would say “the contemporary is he (sic) who firmly holds his gaze on his own time so as to perceive not its light, but rather its darkness” (2009: 44). Akin to Ricouer’s concept of forgetting that is imbued with traces of memory, darkness is not simply a lack of light, but a special activity of seeing according to Agamben. And one should actively perceive “the darkness of his time as something that concerns, as something that never ceases to engage him” (Agamben, 2004: 45). I would like to emphasize that it is exactly this


engagement with the darkness of the present that the memory work should undertake. I would claim that the present eruptions of memory, and the crisis it engenders give us a chance to attend to the thresholds of different traces of memory within the problematic of memory and forgetting. As Ricouer puts it, the limit of remembering the past “facing the historian- just as for the film maker, the narrator, and the judge” lies “in the untransmissible part of extreme experiences;” but we should also take note of what he adds by emphasizing, “to say untransmissible is not to say inexpressible” (2004: 452). The untranmissible can be expressed not in a chronological temporal ordering but within a place. Is this not a paradox? I have mentioned in the beginning that the connection between memory and place has been severed to a great extent. Yes, places are lost but there is always a new place, and that place is haunted by an impossibility housed there (Butler, 2002: 468). The place re-appears in the twilight of forgetting and remembering. Coming to terms with the past and mourning are suggested as remedies against the dominating oblivion in Turkey today, however, I have argued that coming to terms with the past cannot be treated merely as a voluntary, conscious and subjective temporal act. The historical time forces its continuity against which remembering the past, en bloc, seems difficult if not impossible. Memory work could only gain a radical meaning when it sees through the darkness of the times feeling the presence of the untransmissible traces and the fractured relations between them at the site of thresholds. And it can offer only a thread, a fragile thread that impossibly attempts to revive the untransmissible traces within forgetting for a possible recognition in future life. It offers a fragile thread but not an avenue of institutionalized memories. And even if the fragments and traces cannot be restored to their ‘original’ place, their faint breathing could be

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heard through the hassle of the present, and could be given a ‘second life’ mediated through creative expressions of memory. I think this is what Silvina Der-Meguerditchian’s work modestly but preciously offers: “The thread of your story got lost for a while. Someone has broken it. But there is this thread, like Ariadne’s thread that will help you out the maze…”

Footnotes 1“Evlerinin önü mersin; evlerinin önü marul; evlerinin önü susam…” or “Evlerinin önü boyalı direk…” 2 A newspaper article from 1995, the years during which the war against the Kurdish people was at its peak, talks of Süleyman Demirel as a man with a memory of 5 gigabytes. Milliyet, 08/03/1995 3 See Zeynep Güzel, “Memory as Representation/Memory as Experience: A study of Hatırla Sevgili through the Narratives of Leftists’ Children,” unpublished MA thesis, Sociology Department, Boğaziçi University, 2009. 4 Murat Paker argues that both documentary and dramatic representations of the traumatic past have incredible value for creating empathy for the victimized Other, which otherwise remains demonized despite the growing information on traumatic events. He cites the film İki Dil Bir Bavul and the TV serial Bu Kalp Seni Unutur mu? as significant examples (2009:30).

5 Murat Paker employs the psychoanalytical term ‘dissociation’ as a key mechanism in the ‘memory culture’ of Turkey in the last century. Dissociation is a defense mechanism that separates the stimulus/perception/situation/memory/thought from the normal processes of consciousness. The dissociated part leads to an autonomous and menacing life of its own that seriously harms the functions of the person or society. I would say that the mechanism of ‘dissociation’ would continue to work even when evidences and symptoms regarding the past are revealed but separated from their deeply woven affective contexts, and instead channeled into pragmatic political narratives. 6 This issue was discussed at length in its various aspects at a workshop organized by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation. “Sürmekte olan Toplumsal Travmalar ile Başetmeye Yönelik Yol Gösterici Rehber Hazırlık Toplantısı”, 18-19 December 2010, Diyarbakır. 7 Heinrich Böll Stiftung, “Türkiye’de Geçmişle Hesaplaşma: Dil ve Yöntem”, 5 April 2008, Istanbul. 8 It is problematic that in this frame, many crucial past events such as the Armenian genocide or Dersim massacres would inevitably be left out of the scope of memory work.


References Agamben, Giorgio (2009) “What is the Contemporary?” in What is an Apparatus? and Other Essays, trans. David Kishik, Stefan Pedatella, Stanford University Press. Benjamin, Walter (1969) “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, Schocken Books. Bora, Tanıl (2009) “‘Söyledim ve vicdanımı kurtardım’dan ötesi?”, Birikim 248. Butler, Judith (2002) “Afterword: After Loss,What Then?” in Loss: The Politics of Mourning, eds. David L.Eng, David Kazanjian, University of California Press. Freud, Sigmund (1995) The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Verso. Lowental, David (1985) The Past is a Foreign Country, Cambridge University Press. Natzmer, Cheryl (2002) “Remembering and Forgetting: Creative Expression and Reconciliation in Post-Pinochet Chile” in Social Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives, eds. Jacob J.Climo, Maria G.Cattell, Altamira Press. Nora, Pierre (1989) “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire” Representations 26, special issue: Memory and Counter-Memory” Paker, Murat (2009) “Maskeli baloyu bitirmek için karşı-psikolojik harekat” Birikim 248. Ricouer, Paul (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. K.Blamey, D.Pellauer, The University of Chicago Press. Roth, Michael S.; Salas, Charles G. (2001) “Introduction” in Disturbing Remains: Memory, History, Crisis in the Twentieth Century, eds. M. S. Roth, C. G. Salas, The Getty Research Institute. Sancar, Mithat (2007) Geçmişle Hesaplaşma: Unutma Kültüründen Hatırlama Kültürüne, İletişim Yayınları.

IN BETWEEN, videostills - 2008 - S. Der-Meguerditchian

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DEEP SEA FISH, video still detail -2010- S. Der-Meguerditchian


DEEP SEA FISH - Խորունկ Ծովի Ձուկեր by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

An audiowalk through the streets of Cihangir Translation: G. M. Goshgarian

Five years ago, the first time I came to Istanbul, I was very afraid. When I confronted the dichotomy Me-Turkey, I used to be afraid. People scared me, cars scared me, sidewalks scared me, windows scared me... This is the fourth time I’ve come this year. I got off the plane as if I were at home. I knew the way to the passport control desk, where to go to exchange euros for liras, where to find the Havas taxi stand to go to Taksim... Hardly had I arrived, they took me to a party in Cezayir, where the Istanbul “artists’ scene” was that night. I said hello to a couple people, but we didn’t have much to say to each other. I was somewhat disoriented, so I started dancing. Here people dance, they dance a lot, they put special energy into dancing, they dance. And there I was, dancing with the rest of them. In a fraction of a second, my gaze split in half; I saw myself from the outside and I thought to myself: “What am I doing, dancing with these people? Are they my people? Are they my people now? I like dancing with them, but I don’t know if they’re my people. Many of them must think that I’m narrow-minded and obsessed. Maybe they’re thinking, “Why don’t you just enjoy yourself and leave us in peace? Surely there are more important things to worry about than injustice and denial.” Turn down the first street on the left and pause for a moment in front of an old, dilapidated wooden house. For a second, looking at this house, I very nearly gave up. I had the feeling that nothing I was doing was at all meaningful. That was it. Everything was over and done with. Nothing in this

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neighborhood gives me the impression that we ever really walk these streets. We may exist, but we leave no traces. Perhaps fire swept them all away. Fire seems to have consumed people’s memories. This last wooden house seems to be a left-over haunted by death. When I look at it, it’s as if I were on the verge of tumbling into an abyss. Paradjanov once said that windows are a city’s eyes. This house has blinkers over its eyes. Rotten, dead wood... wood that doesn’t say a word. Sometimes I wonder about the nature of reality. Might the will possess the capacity to make reality come into being? If so, then I’d only have to find people who want us to surge up from the depths... or to remind some people that they’ve forgotten this desire of theirs. I look and look, but the WALLS say nothing to me, they treat me as if I were a tourist. They SEEM discolored TO ME, like a photograph that’s losing its impact from being looked at so much. Its colors are fading, like the memory of a love affair that gave you butterflies in the stomach, but, from being repeated so often, is becoming more and more worn, so that all the details that your emotion made you feel so intensely are starting to seem banal... to seem almost silly. I felt silly asking antique dealers for “ermeni” antiques... What do I have to do with this neighborhood, Cihangir? These facades are mute and, when they’re in front of me, close their eyes. For them, I’m like the fish from the bottom of the ocean that we don’t see, although we know they’re down there, in the depths, horrible fantasy creatures, with their little lights, hoping that somebody will discover them so that they can come up and shine outside, even if only as corpses. For them, anything and everything can serve when it comes to affirming one’s existence. Just one antique dealer was able to show me items that bore witness to a past life in its all fullness. He had a few copper plates with Armenian inscriptions from a hamam. They were the last vestiges of the fish who swam desperately on the surface before sinking into the depths and


DEEP SEA FISH, video still - 2010-S. Der-Meguerditchian

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DEEP SEA FISH, video still -2010- S. Der-Meguerditchian


pursuing their existence at the bottom of the sea. At the next corner is another antique dealer with a multitude of empty chairs out in front of his shop. If he’s open for business, I can have a look at these chairs. They seem to be a ghostly auditorium, with neither actors nor spectators... Poor Istanbul – this city with its barbershops for men, its men-only cafes, its shops specializing in “turshi” or “halva” – represents a mass of things that probably are not. It’s a protective barrier, because it’s a big city, and thus the most familiar and the most accessible for me, since I come from a big city as well. What do I have in common with it? The couple of years, perhaps, that my grandfather Levon spent in it after he escaped from a prison in Marash and came here to start a new life? I keep on walking, without knowing in which neighborhood the han in which my grand¬father had his business was located, or when he last looked at the sky here, walking through these streets. I can’t be certain, but I suspect that he suffered the second biggest disappointment of his life here when he learned, in 1923, that his “friends,” the French, weren’t going to keep their promise to protect him and that the question of his existence had ceased to be a question... He was left with two choices: One was to continue living in a place that told him: “You are no longer a question” and thus “you are not.” As if being Armenian could only fall into a category based on the “ARMENIAN QUESTION”. The other was to go someplace that would ask him: “And who are you?” He opted for the second choice. I think that that question disturbed the poor man

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so much that, despite his erudition, finding an answer drained all his life’s energy. These stairways, these trees, these facades studded with little tiles bearing names such as Atlas, Atlan, Riza Bey, Seya Bey, or Gül told him, while he was out walking: YOU ARE NO LONGER A QUESTION, and therefore YOU ARE NOT. The first time I took a walk through Istanbul’s streets, I, too, had that feeling: they were telling me: YOU ARE NOT. It was the same thing even at the Armenian church in Cameralte Cadessi which, hardly had I caught sight of it, moved me so deeply. It hid its doors from me and I heard its quiet voice saying: YOU ARE NOT. Many things have happened in the past five years. Today, I listen to quiet voices that tell me: YOU ARE. I still don’t know who or what I am, yet I AM, at least a little. Sometimes, at magical moments, I feel a passing gust of wind that tells me: YOU ARE... I ate in the bar opposite the Firuzaga Mosque, to our left, in front of which we pause briefly. It was Sunday, early in the morning. For breakfast, they served me a hot queté, fresh from the oven. Suddenly, from the depths of my childhood, I seemed to be listening to my sister, coming to make the happy announcement that medz-mayrig had made queté! That night, I dreamed I owned an apartment here, in this neighborhood. On the square in front of the mosque and in the street behind it are a few bars that make me feel as if I were back in my neighborhood at home. Istanbul is in the midst of a major change. The houses bear the scars of the change for all to see: the red and blue house numbers show us the city’s old and new numbering system. Istanbul has grown so rapidly that it’s had to rethink its basic structure. Will there be a place for me in the new scheme? Will I have to live in a cocoon, with no one but the 100,000 people who took to the streets to say, “I, too, am Hrant;


I, too, am an Armenian?” What’s supposed to happen with the millions of others who prefer to consider that I don’t exist? Alice, a German friend, has loaned me a book by Krikor Zohrab. Thanks to her and the French language, I was able to read him for the first time. I had so many fantasies about the Armenian literature written in the period before the genocide. I bore a grudge against Buenos Aires’ Armenian schools, which didn’t succeed in teaching me the language well enough for me to read and enjoy it. The book is entitled Life As It Is. Zohrab was an Istanbul writer whom the Committee of Uniion and Progress ordered killed in 1915. I was very curious to learn what life in Istanbul was like before 1915. I read a translation in French, a language I also learned in school, but one which conquered my heart. For me, French was a bridge to Armenian, the language that could have been my mother tongue... It wasn’t easy for Zohrab to capture my interest; he had to compete with writers such as Borges, Cortázar, Sartre, Hesse, and dozens of others, all of whom I could read in the original. To approach him, I had to use crutches... French crutches are sexy crutches, but they’re crutches, after all. I wasn’t disappointed... he made me feel the spirit of a great literature. His book tells stories that unfold in Istanbul. If it weren’t for the fact that their protagonists have names such as Sahag, Verzhuhi, or Vahan, and take the ferry to go from Uskudar to Karaköy, these stories could have unfolded in Paris, Madrid, or London. The prose is the classic prose of the early twentieth century. The heroes and heroines are Stambuliots, ordinary inhabitants of this city. The book recounts love stories involving emancipated, urbane, audacious Armenian women... How I would have enjoyed reading it as an adolescent! How I would have enjoyed knowing that we were once normal people, and how happy I would have been not to have to identify with a stunted society or heroes from the Middle Ages!

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On the horizon, in the background, was a church standing there all by itself. I heard, coming from that general direction, the sound of bells, for the first and only time. It was Sunday noon. Was the sound of bells coming from that church? They stole Romanticism from me. They are stealing the singularity of a plural from the Turks of our day. They left me without the plural of my singularity. They left me thirsting after contemporary Armenian artists capable of inspiring and moving me. How hard it is today to encounter the masters of a culture ensconced in books from the Middle Ages. Our link with modernity was broken when they hauled us out of our homes and dispatched us to the borderlands, to the limbo of in-betweenness. Well, then, here I am, living on thresholds together with Paradjanov, who, as Krikor Beledian once put it, “affirmed his Armenianness by conceiving it as a borderline existence.” Thanks to French, again, I read Zabel Yessayan’s The Gardens of Silidhar, an autobiographical novel in which she recounts her childhood in Uskudar late in the nineteenth century. I found one of the conversations between the Armenian woman who is the heroine of the story and a Turkish friend of hers particularly moving, because, although it was written more than one hundred years ago, it could have been an exchange of my own with someone with whom I was trying to re-establish this ruptured relationship.

“Early one morning, while we were stretched out on the sand waiting for the fishing boats to return, I asked Fayizeh: ‘What does your uncle think about the Armenians’ misfortune?’ She started slightly and looked at me without saying a word. We had never broached the subject. Suddenly, with a reproachful note in her voice, she blurted out: ‘My uncle is a good man.’ I was prepared to make do with this ambiguous answer, but I noticed that she was becoming more


and more emotional. Finally, with tears in her eyes, she murmured: ‘My other uncle, the older brother of the first, is in exile. My Uncle Nahat is very happy that you and I are friends. He’s told me that it’s very good that we are, and he’s described the plight of the Anatolian Armenians for me. He believes that we have the same enemies you do.’ Then she nodded and said again, ‘My uncle is a good man.’” Turn right and go around the Cukur Cuma mosque until you come to Cukur Cuma Street. From the end of the street, the Galata Tower can be seen on the horizon. I read in a book that Galata was the neighborhood earlier known as Pera, inhabited by the minorities who, once upon a time, did not represent such a “minor” segment of the local population. When I stayed in this neighborhood the last time, I had a good feeling. One night while I was here, I dreamed that my husband and I had gone to an orphanage and kidnapped all the orphans. I don’t know how we managed, but we gained the woman guard’s confidence and abducted all the children. She had such complete trusted in us that she went to take a short walk. I grabbed my pocketbooks and handbags and took a pretty plant with me, too; it was planted in a flower-pot placed in a bigger flower-pot. There was a little blond girl with bright eyes and two pig-tails there. She kept looking at me, and her eyes said that she want me to take her with me. Just as I was about to leave, the guard arrived. She realized that the children were missing and started shouting. I ran off. At that point, I woke up, frightened, with a very sharp pain in my chest. What anxiety I felt! As soon as I had woken up, I tried to recall the dream. I didn’t remember seeing other children, or how we kidnapped them, or why we took them with us, or who we were going to demand ransom from. 31


Now go straight to the end of the street. When you start to feel you’re part of a place – when you begin to feel at home, the first thing you give up is your children’s names. I wondered if my grandparents Levon and Avedis, Araxi and Aghavni started to feel at home just as fast when they arrived in Argentina – or if they surrendered to the country from the word go. They named my mother Elena and christened my aunts Aida and Luisa. At home, my father was known as Juan. My grandmother used to call him Hovhannes but, to make things easier for the neighbors, she called him Juan outside the house. His siblings were named Mario and Ana. My grandmother Aghavni, whose name means dove in Armenian, even became Paloma or Colomba to make it easier to mix with the other immigrants in the La Boca neighborhood, who were Italian or Spanish. Always trying to make things easier for others! While I was walking around here, I wondered how my classmates from the Armenian school in Buenos Aires would feel if they were to take a stroll in these parts. Would they feel the same way I do? Would they feel the warmth of a reunion – the feeling that “this part of the world also belongs to me,” or that “I also belong to this part of the world?” What would Eugenia, Marina, Valeria, Paola, Mariana, Carina, Cristina, and Sonia feel? All of them with names that were as Spanish or Italian as mine. Already, we were no long called Nunig, Vartuhi, Araxi, Manushag, or Aghavni. This whole generation of Armenians, in their eagerness to be accepted by society, gave up their names and were left only with last names that were translated, shortened, broken up, and translated again. Terzian, Mateosian, Kanzabetian, Mardirosian, Baliozian, Kardeshian, Yagmour, Koruk.... The same family names which, from the seafloor, suddenly seemed like fragments began speaking to me again from this city’s signs and billboards. They told me: YOU ARE.


DEEP SEA FISH, video still- 2010-S. Der-Meguerditchian

In one of the eyewitness accounts that Professor Leyla Neizi collected in the course of her oral history project, an interviewee says that “to come to terms with the past,” one has to be able to love others, and that others have to love you in their turn. I found myself thinking: “I don’t know how much one has to love others... it’s hard. It might even be counterproductive.” I sense that I’d love to love. I already feel a great deal of affection for many people here. That’s when I start to think: “Why make these loved ones feel pain? Why make them remember something so painful? When someone loves someone else, she tries to protect him or her from pain.” How am I to reconcile my need for justice and recognition with the affection I feel for people? If one is seeking justice, it might be better not to love... Or else to try to make people love you more, so that they will be the ones to seek justice and will do everything they can to assuage... your pain... 33


Pic. 13

Pic. 2

Pic. 12


IMAGINATION, CREATIVITY AND TRAUMA Processing trauma by means of artistic creation by Antje Heinemann

I would like to begin with a painting by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (pic.1 - page 38). Born in 1907, she contracted polio at a young age as the result of a serious bus accident. In her painting, «The Broken Column,» she tries to translate her pain into art. She said about it: «I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.» To her, being able to paint means to be alive, to live, to have survived, to know that she exists. The painting thus seems like a possible bridge, allowing her to endure her traumatic inner fragmentation.In this talk, I will approach the question if creative art enables patients to process trauma. Which artistic strategies can be utilised to that end? Moreover, I will give an insight into the practice of art therapy in trauma therapy. While I am not going to discuss individual cases or the therapeutic relationship, I will give an account of my work with seriously traumatised girls between 14 and 20 years of age who live in a therapeutic living community, as well as with traumatised adult patients at a drug rehab clinic. The pictures I will show here originate from these therapeutic cases.

Trauma

“If one does not realise a trauma, one is forced to live through it again or restage it.“ (Janet 1889) As an introduction, I will give a brief theoretical overview of psychological trauma. A trauma is an overwhelming situation in which the afflicted person feels extremely help- and powerless. Their mental, and in many cases their physical integrity is damaged severely. Trauma inflicted onto one person by another, so-called “man-made trauma,” is

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considered the kind of trauma that is the most difficult to process. A traumatic experience is characterised by an overstraining of the ability of the self to process internal and external stimuli, either intermittently or for longer periods. This overstrain expresses itself in states of internal overload, affect storms, catastrophic cognitions, confused perception, fears of ego fragmentation and self-dissolution. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include states of internal overload with elements of the trauma as well as states of freezing, paralysis or emotional numbing, which serve to avoid modes of experience conditioned by the trauma. Typical responses to stressful situations are fight or flight. In a traumatic situation, these are no longer viable; the psyche responds with so-called coping strategies. These include freezing and also dissociation, which in contrast to association means splitting off. The traumatic memory is fought off by dissociation and splitting as well. This is confirmed by results from recent brain research, which show that events which exceed a certain stimulus threshold are stored separately from our autobiographical memory. This means that we are dealing with two discrete memory systems. Stored in dissociative memory, memories are not accessible directly, but can be triggered, which means that a memory surfaces in connection with particular kinds of emotions, but isn’t embedded in an autobiographical memory context. In the case of unsuccessful trauma processing the emotional memory (hot memory) outweighs the autobiographical memory (cold memory). This results in the simultaneous presence of states of intense recollection called intrusions on the one hand, and memory gaps with regard to the concrete experiences on the other hand. Therefore the successful processing of a traumatic experience requires reconnecting the following aspects: What happened? What did I feel? What did I think? How did I respond?


Once the event can be integrated with its larger context, a new attitude towards it can emerge, one of: «It’s over. I have survived!» One basic principle applies to all cases of trauma: Before one can move on from a horrific experience, one has to face it and integrate it without just slipping into flashback. The psychological effects especially of childhood trauma are manifold: depression, suicidality, addiction, self-injury and personality disorders.

Art therapy “Art exists because it offers means through which human experiences can be communicated.” K. Dannecker My method is informed by several years of being employed at a drug rehabilitation clinic and by my work at a therapeutic living community for girls suffering from complex trauma who had had to experience sexual violence. Taking a psychoanalytic approach as the fundamental basis of my work, I employ an integrative concept of resource-oriented psychodynamic imaginative trauma therapy developed by Fr. Lücke and Fr. Redemann. Working with internal images is a key component of this concept. The therapeutic process follows the three phase model of trauma therapy: Stabilisation: This phase includes working with resources; recognising and appreciating coping strategies; imparting knowledge about the effects of trauma; learning affect regulation and differentiation; establishing safety within and outside; developing a differentiated body perception; and learning to deal with traumatic material in a controlled manner. Confrontation of the trauma: This phase involves approaching traumatic situations in a controlled setting.

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Pic.1

Pic.7

Pic.4

Pic.8

Pic.14

Pic.5


Pic.11

Pic.3

Pic.6

Pic.9 Pic.10

Pic.15

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Integration and reorientation: This phase includes learning to accept limitations; recognising, naming and processing the effects of a horrific experience; trying out different ways of dealing with oneself and in relationships with other people. I will illustrate this phase model with pictures by patients. It has to be noted that the therapeutic process does not always conform to the model this strictly, but can go back and forth between the individual phases.

Stabilisation

When patients in art therapy draw, paint a picture or create a sculpture, they grant us an insight into their modes of experience, their autobiographies, and the way in which they have shaped their world. The creative process brings into being an object which exists in the outside world, and which thus can be seen, handled, which can be grasped, in both senses of the word. This object can be shared with others and thus is a means of relief. I see my clients in individual or group therapy for one hour per week. At the beginning of the therapy, the focus lies with building the therapeutic relationship. It has proven helpful that clients create freely and independently at this stage. To that purpose, they choose from a wide range of materials and develop their own pictorial themes. Other more guided methods are employed only over the further course of the therapy and in consultation with the client. The term “initial image“ refers to images which are created in the first session. They indicate fundamental conflicts. Here are some examples of initial images: (pic. 2 - page 34) This drawing shows a landscape with a windowless house, perhaps a barn, and a pathway along a field and bushes. The repeated vertical lines on the roof are a striking element, they seem meaningful as well as irritating, mysterious. The base line of the house seems to be missing, it looks incomplete and yet very much closed off.


The horizon line is unclear, the perspective to outline clearly defined spaces is missing. This is the second object by a different client (pic.3- p. 38), a flower pot which she painted red on the outside and black on the inside. This object, too, clearly presents an attempt to describe a mental state by turning the pot into a symbol for the body or the shell of the psyche, with an inside and an outside. Following the creative process, the client described her inner mental state as a black, dark, undifferentiated void. Thus, the object visualises the client’s inner distress in a way similar to the windowless house in the first drawing, inside of which it also had to be dark. Both examples are typical of an intrapsychic state that is often encountered at the beginning of the therapeutic process. It is characterised by fear of losing control, by being withdrawn and distrustful. The central feature of this drawing (pic.4- p. 39) is the plaited hair. It reveals wounds and injuries which the woman could not have inflicted on herself. In this image, pain is not suffered silently, but it is made visible. The long hair could hide the wounds, but is was conceived in such a way that they could still be seen. With traumatised people, it frequently is important that their pain is seen. Ultimately, the invisibility of their pain is often worse than the traumatic experience itself. This means that there is a need to find ways to express the pain and transform it.The artistic creation can become a counterpart and mirror which can be encountered directly. This challenge provides an opportunity for change and transformation. This drawing (pic.5- p.40) by another patient also deals with pain and overload. Woven into a concentration of searching lines lies a person, who has a wound at the level of the heart. The lines contain the repeated words “Wo?” (“Where?”) and “Da!” (“There!”). Especially patients suffering from internal overload can use the creative process to bring structure to an inner world they experience as chaotic. The subject of the drawing may also

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represent a differentiation of the own immediate state and the outer context. The inner chaos is translocated to the outside. Thus, a new perspective becomes possible. The client learns how to distance oneself, which is categorically useful in dealing with traumatic material in a controlled manner. Externalising internal processes allows for a distance which makes a new perspective on the inner events possible. Against the background of the loss of control experienced in the traumatic situation, the powerlessness experienced in the past, the importance of restoring confidence in the own action competence cannot be overstated. One example that shows the above mentioned confidence is an assemblage made of a gesso bed under which lay several paint bags. The dry gesso was punctured. The client was able to transfer aggressive impulses onto the image in a self-regulated way. This process of destruction at the same time created something new. This is called sublimation. Aggressions are transformed into creative power and made communicable to the outside world. Working with resources – finding counter-images to the images of horror. P. Levine’s model enriches the stabilising work with traumatised patients. Levine compares the body to a river in which life energy flows. In this metaphor, the river bank represents the body boundary. In a case of serious traumatisation a great amount of energy breaks through a rupture in the bank and forms a turbulent trauma vortex beyond the normal flow of life energy. Nature immediately creates a counter vortex as a compensatory force. The process of overcoming trauma is about tracking down those counter vortices, making them accessible to the consciousness, and mending the damaged river bank. In resource-oriented art therapy, the resources in an artistic creation are purposely brought to attention, which activates the counter-images. This allows the client to go back and forth between destructive and constructive representations. As a


rule, the client is encouraged to ensure a balance between images of horror and “positive” images. In psychotherapy, resources are the inner potential of a person, for instance a skills, abilities, knowledge, competence, experiences, talents, interests and strengths of which the patient is often unaware. The capacity for symbolisation is usually well developed in trauma patients; after all, they used fantasies of a better world to survive. Therefore, imagination exercises such as the “safe place” and the “inner helper” present an advantageous method. This method makes use of the clients’ faculty of imagination; they are instructed to imagine a safe place and, subsequently, to paint it. This image shows a landscape, a large meadow with horizon, sky and sun. In stressful everyday situations, the safe place offers support, strength and consolation, even though these internal images can never be found in the desired perfection in the outside world. The school of Milton Erickson (1981) calls this approach utilisation. A cat (pic.6-p.39) can be used as an “inner helper” during the stabilisation phase, as a companion, consoler and guide. In this phase of the therapy the artwork is not subjected to depth psychological interpretation. At first, the aim is that clients have these positive internal images safely at their disposal when they are in need and feel alone and helpless. Just as well, the helper could function as a cheer leader who encourages and emboldens. This exercise is an essential prerequisite to confronting trauma, for the helpers will then be able to lend their support. Another goal of the stabilisation phase is to learn controlled abreaction by means of a safe frame, in order to bring lowering of impulse control like anger into a fixed and thus controllable form. To this end, the client first creates the frame and makes sure that it is safe. The action impulses connected to the aggression can then be expressed within the frame. During the stabilisation phase, surfacing images are often connected to body perception. In this im-

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age (pic.7- p. 38), the body is clearly experienced as fragmented, which is related to the experienced dissociations. In this picture’s mixed technique of collage and coloured pencil drawing the phenomenon of dissociation becomes vivid through artistic means. The torn woman seems caught in a web – lost, fragmented and disconnected. Her longing look is turned to the right. The confusing impression is fortified by the artistic device of mixed technique, which brings about an expression of disconnectedness.The picture could also be understood as a combination of dissociative and associative elements, body and web. In the first place, dissociation is an ability that ensures survival. In contrast to association, which means combining and connecting, dissociation means splitting off. Traumatic experiences are split off to protect oneself from severe emotions such as anguish or unbearable pain. The ability of dissociation becomes a disorder when it can no longer be controlled. Dissociative behaviour can be triggered by everything that evokes the memory of an earlier trauma. Therefore it seems reasonable to regard the production of connective images as a beneficial process (pic.8/9- p.39). These connective images involve creating lines and pathways, whose purpose is the development of networks. Systems emerge, figures whose internal planes can be designed and develop towards a picture resembling a map. Something whole, something complete becomes visible. This picture (pic.11- p.39) conveys the impression of looking directly into the brain. People and situations appear as if tied to colourful threads. Possibly these images can be compared to the adaptive processes of the central nervous system. This ability of the brain to adapt as a result of one’s life experience is called neuroplasticity. Thus, the reverse becomes feasible: fear constricts thought, but creative work, free from fear, expands it. New neural pathways are formed in order to be


able to move beyond the old one-way streets. Artistic processes are processes of internal formation and transformation. In the course of working creatively, images and symbols are found and placed into new connections. This can lead to situations which make a changing and developing point of view, perhaps a change of perspective, possible.

Trauma confrontation

Once sufficient safety within and outside is established and the patient wishes to do so, the processing of traumatic experiences can be begun. In order to do so, it has to be made sure that there is no contact with the abuser and no additional stress from the social environment has to be expected.In order to be able to process and integrate a trauma, the fragments of the trauma that were dissociated in the past have to be systematically recombined. Artistic creation can contribute to getting in touch with layers of the experience that have been dissociated so far. It can be especially useful when words are not enough or when no words have been available. One of the fragments which again and again appear in pictures by trauma patients is eyes (pic.10 p.39). Raped women often remember the eyes of the abuser, the look which penetrated them, filled with hatred, with the will to utter destruction. This weapon, - the eyes of the abuser -, sadly focuses on the victims all too often, and it makes them paralysed with horror, which means that it encourages a freeze reaction.

Horror, shame and helplessness are particularly pronounced reactions, as they are expressed in this collage. As if it was frozen, the face is covered by a half mask, through which only the eye can be seen. Gray industrial buildings bear down crushingly on the woman. Every victim internalises the abuser in some patterns of behaviour and thought, introjecting them. For these pictures I use Bennett Braun’s BASK model as part of the trauma exposition. In its figurative meaning, the “bask� is

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the basket in which fragments of the trauma have to be systematically collected and connected in order for the trauma to be processed. According to Braun, the complete recollection of a situation comprises remembering all layers or elements. All are present and can be accessed. This takes place in a dialogue based on the picture. The elements are: “Behaviour,“ which comprises all behaviours and actions which were part of the traumatic event, which were performed or left undone. “Affect”, which includes all emotions connected to the situation, such as powerlessness, fear, anger, shame, guilt, etc. “Sensation,” which refers to all bodily sensations and sensory impressions, for example pain, tensions, suspended reflexes of fight and flight, freezing, sounds, smells, tactile and visual perceptions which were relevant to the traumatic event. “Knowledge,” which includes all spoken words, unspoken thoughts and negative cognitions. These drawings depict a sadistic scene (pic.12p.34); they are about taking pleasure in sadistic torment. Smiling, the cat extends its claws and lets the mouse dangle. This subject was chosen by a 17 year old girl who had been sexually abused by her father and several other men from birth until she was 15 years old. In her case, things always returned to the identification with her father and her joint guilt as well as an intense internal sadomasochistic restaging, in which the inner victim parts were humiliated, tormented and raped again by the inner abuser parts, creating a kind of tortuous perpetuum mobile of memories and fantasies. This drawing (pic.13 - p.49) allowed the client to talk about her being abused, about the things that happened behind the closed windows. By purposefully approaching the traumatic memory, a guided encounter with the trauma and an abreaction become possible.


Integration Art as an Antidepressant

In the act of artistic creation the person experiences him- or herself as an autonomous creator. In this example (pic.14 - page 38), the development from victim to confident, active and action competent self is clear. Both figures were created in the same session and portray the process of integrating oppositional emotional states. This experience can lead to a change in dealing with oneself. Again and again, it is important to become reaquainted with the hurt, alienated, abused body, to perceive it differently and be able to experience it in a new context of meaning. To this end, the outline of the body was filled with places of safety and happiness. Over the course of several sessions, the client was enthusiastically designing trees and other nature scenes. In the end, she was proud and impressed with being able to experience her body in a self-determined way and from a new perspective. Important aspects were integrating the own body boundary, which may not be transgressed by anyone and which has to be accepted, as well as the different way of dealing with oneself, loving and caring. This picture (pic.15 - pag. 39) contributed greatly to an improved sense of self-worth.

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Summary

In closing, I would like to show you three pictures (pics. 16, 17 and 18 - p.49) that were made in three successive sessions and which depict the process of coming to terms with trauma in a compact and examplary way. This first picture portrays feelings of overload and lack of perspective. The drama concerning the traumatic loss of control comes alive in the troubled, turbulent water. In the next picture, the view expands, a horizon and thus a new perspective are revealed. The raft affords an opportunity to reach the safe shore. The shore is reached and a mountain is climbed. From up there, it is possible to look far into the distance, forward as well as in all directions. Distancing and reorientation become possible. With this transformative process I end my talk; I would like to encourage you to accept the notion that people are able to process serious trauma with the help of pictures. Step by step a positive world can be created, a counterworld to the world of traumatic images. The traumatic images can then be approached against this background. Eventually, the horrific experience can be integrated with the context of one’s life as a whole.


Pic. 16

Pic. 17

Pic. 18

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Threehundredandone necklace-2009


YASEMIN ÖZCAN KAYA visual artist Kimlik kapıyı çaldığımızda; *When identity knocks on the door the response we give to the question: -Who’s there? is merely - It’s me… this phrase may help me describe the axis of my art practice. (*Louis Althusser, Ideological State Apparatuses)

In my practice which I employ a number of mediums together, my recent work mostly consists of photographs and video installations. I might say that the resonances of the Hrant Dink Memorial Workshop organized by Sabancı University again in this conference hall that I participated in over a year ago have been a factor compelling me to accept this forum invitation… In the context of the Forum framework, I would like to show İsimsiz / Untitled (2005), Üçyüzbir / Threehundredandone (2009) and Koş / Run (2010) …

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THREEHUNDREDANDONE

3’30” video installation-2009 2009 Haksız Tahrik /Unjust Provocation- Hafriyat Karaköy/ İstanbul-TR 2009 Üçyüzbir - Apartman Projesi / Threehundredandone –Apartment Project /İstanbul-TR Threehundredandone necklace-2009 2009 Threehundredandone –Apartment Project /İstanbul-TR

The video “Threehundredandone” makes reference to the controversial *article n°301 that stands as an obstacle before freedom of thought and expression. The two channel video installation is accompanied by the “Threehundredandone” necklace in the exhibition space. I think Hrant Dink’s assassination on January 19, 2007 is a watershed for both this geography, as well as for my personal history. Hrant Dink was convicted of article 301, but what is much worse is he was killed because of the atmosphere spawned by this case. The video installation “Threehundredandone” actually consists of questions I’ve circled around and sought answers to in the last two years.... The jeweler workshop I worked at as a designer in 1993 while I was a student at Mimar Sinan University is one of the sources of inspiration for the concept of ‘Threehundredandone’. When I started working on the project, I made my first visit to the same workshop for the production of the necklace. Their support for this work is invaluable. I would describe the world of jewelry as a masculine world working predominantly for women. As I was producing this video, obviously my knowledge of that world and its production processes, as well as my visual memory of that period were very beneficial. Thinking about *article 301 as one of the obstacles before freedom of thought and expression, the dexterous Armenian masters making the necklace, the fact that women own only 3% of the property in the world, the relationship between women and jewelry,


Threehundredandone 3’30” video installation-2009

how women’s bodies are used in the advertising world… The dominant tradition in which women’s value is crowned by jewelry functions in a similar manner in wedding-birth rituals. A saying from Anatolia is rather ironic: ‘No matter how fed up I am with pregnancy, I won’t give up the gold diadem…’ if the woman gives birth to a boy, she is rewarded with a gold headdress jewel called diadem. Even though we appear to have advanced to *“I bought my own diamond ring…” from diadem today and the actors have changed, investment over the jewelry-women-value relationship still persists…

*article 301 - The controversial article of the Turkish Penal Code against “the denigration of Turkishness” and an important legal tool to restrict freedom of expression. There are still ongoing court cases and discussions on the issue. * “I bought my own diamond ring…” The name of a popular song by one of Turkey’s women pop vocals, Nil Karaibrahimgil…

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Threehundredandone HDfilm video still-2009

Threehundredandone necklace from installation-2009


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UNTITLED

3’30” video installation-2005

2005 Transfer-santralistanbul-Bilgi Üniversitesi/İstanbul-TR

The Neva Shalom Synagogue in the Galata district has been bombed three times; in 1986, 1992, and most recently on November 15, 2003, which I have been witness to (since I live in the district). A couple of days after the incident, my father asked me to make a video recording for insurance bureaucracy purposes (as his office is right next to the synagogue). When I watched this recording made upon demand two years after the bombing, I decided to exhibit it after editing with minor interventions…

Untitled video stills - 2005


RUN

video still -2010

RUN

3’30” video-2010 2010 Tabiatım Bu!-Kasa Galeri/Istanbul-TR

I would like to start with an excerpt I wrote for the press release… Run (2010) travels from the multilayered boundaries of psychology to the physical boundaries of the athletics track. Empty stadium stands accompany this metaphorical representation: Sometimes sprints, sometimes hurdles and more often a marathon or Süreyya? Ayhan? Nevin? Answer?...* *Süreyya Ayhan and Nevin Yanıt are professional athletes from Turkey with considerable international achievement. Nevin Yanıt’s surname means ‘answer’ in Turkish. I would like to conclude with a passage from Ceren Özselçuk’s text on the video Run that you’ve just watched…

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(...)Could it be that emotions performed with the force of a habit are ways of effacing ourselves from the unsettling field of affects? Yasemin Özcan Kaya’s video, Run, approaches this question from a different angle. As we watch the artist herself run next to the empty tribunes of Atatürk Olympic Stadium, what at first appears to be a competitive race against a smoothly dressed woman leaves its place to a performance of running “together-apart.” As she runs, moving through a series of uncanny obstacles—a female hand (the mother?) extending to offer a sugar cube, a flower pot of geranium, finishing line and a cup—references to the practice of psychoanalytical therapy are implied. One can read, for instance, the overcoming of obstacles in terms of a certain release from familial investments, or, more broadly, as a disidentification from approved answers. Similarly, the dream-like presence of the obstacles, of the disappearance and re-appearance of the woman (a therapist?), and of the empty stadium all make allusions to the fact that change, according to analysis, concerns the transformation of one’s investments and not an adaptation to the desire of the other, be it concrete people, such as the mother, the therapist, or the symbolic authority as embodRUN

video still -2010


ied by the grandeur scale of the stadium. Moreover, the physical effort the artist exerts in running connotes that such transformation comes not only as a result of linguistic articulation of one’s history, but also involves a simultaneous corporeal experience of affects. If one, however, slightly steps away from the metaphor of therapy, the act of running itself offers a model to contemplate an alternative way of relating to the world. The runners in Kaya’s video are present to one another even though they seem to carry distinct identifications, have different internal temporalities and are not in constant physical and emotional togetherness. What instead connects them is an enjoyment of a means without an end. Maybe we can also think of running in parallel to art and the distance it creates within the artist, allowing the expansion of her singularity towards unknown receptions? (...) * From Ceren Özselçuk’s published text on the It’s In My Nature! Exhibition

RUN

video stills -2010

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Jorge Velarde Ferrari, “Dibujos en el río” (Drawings on the river)


WORLDS WITHOUT NEIGHBOURS Can art heal the wounds of broken social relations? Some reflections between Germany and Argentina by stela Schindel

Massacres against large groups of population do not consist only of the act of murdering. They start long before the crime is perpetrated, through a long process of progressive stigmatization, hostilisation and exclusion that neutralizes visually and morally the targeted group. For a massacre to take place, it is necessary to previously destroying the bonds among the population and isolating the future victims from the rest of the society. Before the physical annihilation, the collective to be murdered must be removed from what the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls the “universe of mutual obligations”. The target population must be effectively “sealed off”, removed optically and psychologically from the context of the daily life and concerns of other groups, and their members defined as aliens, so that the majority population does not react with indignation to their prosecution. When this happens, the world itself becomes “the ghetto”. It is life without empathy from the next door’s man or woman. It happens when the future victims realize that they are alone, that they can not count on the solidarity of others, that they are left alone with their suffering. They now inhabit a world where responsibility has ceased to be. Zygmunt Bauman, quoting words of the German Rabbi Joachim Prinz in 1935, calls it a world without neighbours. In worlds without neighbours, the physical removal of the group stigmatized as “alien” goes largely unremarked, because they have already been removed from the hearts and the minds of their fellow citizenships. Responsibility and moral behaviour, according to Bauman, arises out of the proximity to

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the other. The loss of responsibility must necessarily involve –and is synonymous with– replacing proximity with a physical or spiritual separation. These processes of rupture of social relations deploy themselves in a manner that finds also a manifestation in space. The targeted populations are either physically isolated by concentrating them in certain areas, sealing them off in ghettos, or expulsing them through massive deportation. But they can also be margined from social life through daily practices of segregation. In either case, hierarchically different categories of space are produced in the city, giving place to differentiated spatial practices. After the murdering, the physical traces of this separation must be erased as well. These traces may testify of a destroyed social bond but also of complicity, fear or indifference. They might be a testimony of shame. Visible material remnants of the missing are thus removed. This can be actively produced, destroying them or wiping them out from the public sight, or it can happen passively when ignorance, indifference and indolence turn them imperceptible to the pedestrian eye. What can art do to help to render visible these absented presences in the social space? Which strategies and resources can artists display in order to symbolically repairing this fractured collective net? How do they account for mourning and loss and what possibilities do they have –if at all– of healing the wounds left by the destruction of social relations? Or might art just help by pointing at the void? In the Western world, the modern urban experience was contemporary to a crisis of memory and identity. The dissolution of old community ties and the need to adapt to new existences in the emerging metropolises gave place to new urban subjectivities, sharply described by Georg Simmel as early as 1903: lives where empathy gives way to mistrust, interest on the others is replaced by indolence, and affection is overshadowed by intellectualization in the


relations of (now) isolated individuals between themselves. The lived space is not longer the frame to which collective memories –according to the conceptualization of Maurice Halbwachs– can be attached to but becomes a foreign landscape, a surface where history and experience can not be inscribed into. More recently, the anthropologist Marc Auge coined the term “no places” to describe the spaces we increasingly inhabit in today’s cities: impersonal areas to circulate through anonymously instead of meaningful places filled with the density of lived history. Hence the major challenge of symbolically reintegrating the absences in contemporary urban space, of allowing everyday spaces turn into anthropologically lived, affectively perceived places. Some illustrative cases taken from the German and the Argentinean experience show some efforts made in this direction where crimes were meant to leave no traces. Proceeding from historically and geographically distant contexts, they expose the achievements and inspiration potential of the artistic tools, while revealing their necessary link to the engagement of collective actors. By juxtaposing these experiences the aim is not to compare both national situations with each other (or with the Turkish context) but to follow the invisible thread underlying all of them. This thread can be defined as the attempt to rendering visible and symbolically restoring the absent to the social fabric. It is about the gesture of reintegrating them spiritually in space as an expression, or an effort towards, re-embracing the victims of mass murder into the broken social fabric.

Fields and rivers: Are landscapes guilty?

Landscapes are not untouched nature but also social products which bear historical and cultural marks. For centuries, space used to be thought of as a stable object already given, and landscape associated with nature as opposite to human produce. In the last decades though, there is a

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growing awareness of the cultural character of “landscapes” and space is no longer regarded as a mere stage of historical events, but as a dynamic, socially produced dimension of social life. Landscape is always an expression of the social relations and the values predominant in a certain historical moment. Not only urban spaces but also rural environments reveal information about how people live and remember. How do landscapes express the rupture of social relations? How can devastation be read in space if the effect of devastation is, precisely, the elimination of all signs of the exterminated life, the erasure of all traces? In some cases the traces of the crimes are imbedded in the landscape. They attach so much to it that testimony, crime evidence and landscape become one and the same. The landscape is poisoned. It is broken. Is it possible to rendering visible the traces of this erasure? The work of the Chilean photographer Gastón Salas strikingly points at the paradoxes of this task. His photos depict landscapes were gross crimes were committed by the military dictatorship in his country. The observer only sees the mute view of a dessert, a prairie or a river, and it is only because of the adjacent explanation of the massacres perpetrated in those places that the landscape becomes unbearably uncanny. But are landscapes “guilty”? How can society continue to live and coexist with such places? And if all traces have been removed: is it still possible to (re) attach meaningful memories to them? Posing these questions invokes the problem of distinguishing “natural” from “cultural” landscapes, a difference probably impossible to define in precise terms. Some sites of the Nazi extermination policy where intentionally destroyed and left exposed to the elements (thus letting them merge with the natural landscape surrounding them) as a way of concealing the massive crimes. The former Belzec death camp, in eastern Poland, was one of the 6 extermination camps constructed by Nazi Germany with the only


function of assassinating persons and, during. It was only in existence for nine months, during which 600.000 Jews were murdered in the gas chambers. After that it was completely dismantled in order to eliminating the evidence of the mass crime. As a “perfect machine�, after destroying its victims, the camp destroyed itself. The bodies, which had been buried, were exhumed and burned on pyres before the camp was abandoned. For many years, until the construction of a memorial in 2004, Belzec was the most forgotten camp of the holocaust memorial topography, almost melted with the surrounding woods and mostly unnoticed by the local population. Grass had grown on the ground were the ashes of the dead would still remain, all of the area covered by a thick layer of indifference and oblivion. Here, the devastation stands not only for the destruction of whole populations but also for the devastation of social fabric which made it possible. In Argentina, in the late seventies, thousands of political opponents were abducted, tortured and murdered by State Terrorism. Some of them were shot, and their corpses buried in clandestine mass graves. A larger number of them were sedated and thrown alive into the waters of the Rio de la Plata, a river so broad that it is impossible to see the opposite coast while standing on the shore. This river used to be a positive sign of identification for most Argentineans and has since become a troubling presence. However, most inhabitants of Buenos Aires do not seem to face that in their everyday lives. The river is now an anonymous mass grave silently coexisting with the impulse and nerve of metropolitan life. How to attach a memory sign to it? How to create a persistent mark on an always changing, flowing stuff? And how to make it in a sensitive, respectful manner that takes into account the amount of suffering related to these waters? Jorge Velarde Ferrari, a former activist during the seventies, a sailor and an artist, got inspired by these questions and by the will of honouring his

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disappeared friends but not having a concrete place to locate their graves. How to find, or to create, places in a surface –the river- which is all space? His work, called Dibujos en el río (Drawings on the river) consisted on a series of actions on the river itself. He first sailed with a group of friends and relatives of disappeared to different points of the river, tracing a series of “X” signs on the surface of the water with the wake of the boat. In the centre of the “X” – a letter that stands for an enigma, or for an absence – they thru flowers into the waters in remembrance of the disappeared. The artist describes the work as an “art action on nature for the seek of memory”. By tracing a series of invisible marks, immaterial drawings, on the surface of water, the light movement of the waves and the ephemeral transformation of matter become the work itself.

Worlds with neighbours: (re)embracing the absents in the streets

Before the victims were thrown alive into the river, or gassed in the extermination camps of occupied Europe, they had to be physically or psychologically separated from their fellow citizens –removed from the universe of reciprocal solidarity which ties them to their neighbours. The task of artistic interventions, here, may lay in pointing exactly at the point of this separation. The Holocaust was perpetrated in the occupied countries of Eastern Europe. In the country of the murderers it is not possible to attach the memory to the “actual” sites where the physical annihilation of the Jewish population reached its final step. But, in a more subtle way, memory can point at those other sites which paved the way to that: the places where the Jewish citizens where detached from the common universe of moral obligation, from the reciprocity net. These crucial sites mark their exit from the community of equals. They signal the last stop of the victims before being expelled from society. And they inevitably pose the question of the neighbours.


One of the most striking local interventions in Berlin is the one installed around the streets of the “Bavarian Quartier”, an area where many Jewish professionals and intellectuals used to live before going to exile or being deported and murdered. This installation of Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock consist of a series of 80 middle sized panels hung from light posts. These posters contain fragments of the racial laws of Nuremberg: the racist legislation used to private the Jewish citizens of their rights and segregating them from daily life. On the other side of the panel, a very simple picture, reminding of a children book illustration, comments the content of the law. The laws refer for instance to which benches can Jews use to sit on the square or declare forbidden to buy or lend books from libraries. Sometimes they are located in places related to this law, suggesting a connection to the use of these places in the present (for instance, a law stipulating when they can buy their groceries is located close to the bakery). The work was created by assignment of the local district administration, in a competition aimed to account for the history of the Jewish neighbours. It is particularly disturbing possibly because it appeals the pedestrian in relation to her daily life, so that a connexion between past and present is suggested: how would I react today if my neighbour was to be segregated like that? The work does not explicitly name the annihilation, but the progressive process of segregation which preceded it and made it possible, as well as the quotidian fascism and racism which nourished it, issues difficult to tackle with more traditional approaches. James E. Young developed the term anti monument to characterize the works that pose questions rather than reaffirming sealed truths, that include the void and the instability, returning to the spectator the problem of representing memory. A strongly localized, decentralized variation of this trend are the so called Stolpersteine or “stumble cobblestones”: small bronze plaques installed in front of the

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STIH & SCHNOCK, Berlin-Schรถneberg, 1992-93

Stumble cobblestone in Berlin. by Gunter Demnig


from the urban intervention: Places of remembrance in the Bavarian Quarter

Flagstones in Buenos Aires action initiated by “Neighbourhoods for Memory and Justice�

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former homes of Berliner Jews featuring their names, age, date and destination of deportation engraved. They mark the place were the victims were last seen by their neighbours, their last German home. Situated in front of the main door, they point at a hybrid space: neither public nor private, but at the very threshold between them. Other than traditional monuments, the work does not stand vertically but lies on the ground, inviting the pedestrian to turn the gaze towards the floor. Instead of establishing a fixed, central place for visitors to go to, it spreads the memory all over the city so that it comes to the encounter of the pedestrians in their daily urban derives. As with the posters of the Bavarian Quarter, they do not approach directly the murdering, but the previous steps which led to it. The author of the initiative was Gunter Demnig, an artist from Cologne who conceived of it as an alternative to the centralized memorial policy of unified Germany. He has been installing the cobblestones on sidewalks of German cities since 1996. District administrations and civil society groups who wish to honour their assassinated neighbours must apply and wait for him to come and do the installation though (waiting time is around 2 years), as the artist rejects to let the communities install the cobblestones themselves. The flagstones installed in Buenos Aires in memory of the disappeared resemble the Berliner “stumble stones� in many ways. They are installed to remember the victims of Argentinean State Terrorism on the front of the places where they lived, studied, worked or were abducted from (the neighbours of La Paternal quarter extend the homage to those disappeared who were fans of the local soccer club). As the German cobblestones, they are located in the threshold between the public space and the private realm. The initiative originated in a grass roots organization linked to the quarter, Barrios x la memoria y la justicia (Neighbourhoods for Memory and Justice). Here the whole process, including the manufacturing of the tiles, is a collective work.


The neighbours make the research about their disappeared, design and install the piece, and watch out for vandalism, repairing or replacing them if they are damaged. What is the memorial here? Is it the tiles themselves or is it the process of creating and taking care of them? Probably both, as the fixed work stands as a testimony of the conscious memory which generated it. But the memorial seems to be less fixed in stabile objects than embodied in the engagement of the social actors. The last word is always left to the pedestrian who will choose whether to emotionally react to these signals or not. It is he or she who will thus create the nexus between yesterday and today, between the missing and the present. Beyond the big debates around national narratives and the disputes over the establishment of larger consensus about the conflictive pasts, memories need the affective predisposition of the citizens towards their former neighbours in order to anchor and grow. They are fed by the will to re embrace the absent ones, to reintegrating their memories in the urban space, even if this city went on with life as if unnoticed since they were gone. Even if it happens “only� in a micro level, this can be a first step towards symbolically reintegrating those rendered invisible into the illuminated surface of public space. It can take the form of ephemeral traces like the invisible drawings on the Argentinean River or incarnate like an internal voice –as in the path through the streets of Istanbul proposed by Silvina Der-Meguerditchian in her attempt to make perceivable the erased family traces. Art might not be able by itself to perform the complex, long term social developments that lead to restoring broken social bonds. But it can point at the void left by their wounds and help to turn anonymous space into a warmer, affective place. It may propose nothing but low scale, local little gesture but these gestures, as everything that is little, can become huge. 71


BORAN, video still -1999– Hüseyin Karabey


HÜSEYIN KARABEY filmmaker

I would like to share some of my personal experiences with you that might explain why I got into film in the first place. My work is mainly from the same source. I do not see myself as an artist, but as a citizen who is interested in the arts. I’m one of four boys, sons of a Kurdish family. If your family feels you should go to school, or that you should go to university, the state labels you as a potential threat. This boy is Kurdish. This boy is getting an education. I was arrested in 1998 in the course of the first university protests after the 1980 coup against the imposition of university tuition fees and increases, along with almost 90 other students. I stayed in prison for eight months. My experiences in prison furthered my politicization, but outside too, things had become more politicized. I was either going to go into the mountains, or look for other ways to express myself, such as to go into film – an interest which I had already developed. Around the age of around of 20, I started a film department at the Mesopotamia Culture Center. Our first impulse was to document what was going on in Turkey at the time. There was a lot of civil unrest, clashes, and oppression. One event we decided to follow was the unrest in the Gazi neighborhood. The events were captured from the spatial angle of the protesters, and not as usual from the police lines behind which journalists often stood for safety reasons. We were filming from the people’s side of the protests, people who were being shot at. Although the film was realized with very simple means and technology, I believe the impact it made speaks of the power of cinema. 73


Boran was the first film to tell the story of the politically disappeared in Turkey. In 1996 the Saturday Mothers began their sit-in protest, every Saturday on Galatasaray Square – like before them the mothers on the Plaza de Mayo. After three years, the government decided to end the weekly protest by arresting all the regular attendees and taking them into custody for forty weeks. While the strategies of the murderers changed, this protest helped to decrease the number of disappearances henceforth. This period impacted on me in a number of ways: some of those disappeared were my friends, such as Ferhat Tepe or Hasan Ocak. Everyone knew who was responsible for the disappearances; it was clear that it was the state itself that was using methods of intimidation. In court cases evidence in this regard was presented in form of recordings and witnesses, but this kind of information and these facts did not mean that people changed their position. Those who did not personally experience these events - ordinary people - preferred to believe in the manipulation of the news instead. It was this kind of media manipulation that determined peoples’ behavior. It was here that I understood that education and knowledge alone do not change people. What is more significant and more decisive is the possibility to empathize with it. It is only through emotional identification that we change our position and that we start to act. Although a court case was opened against the film in Turkey, film festivals continued to screen it nonetheless. I also had the chance to show it in many places abroad, including a short film competition in Chile. Because of shortage of funding on both sides, I could not attend the festival but received news that it had won best film, and that the prize would be in the mail soon. By chance I met a member of the jury one day who relayed to me that some of the Chilean members of the jury had either experienced torture themselves or had lost loved ones in the political struggle. The jury had been very touched by the film, yet the decision to award it best film gave rise to a serious debate,especially among those who had themselves lived through the trauma of torture.


After all, although Pinochet was gone by that time, this kind of confrontation with the past had not yet begun. Thus giving an award to this particular film would also mean making reference to their own history, which had not yet been publicly examined, and hence constituted a risk. A comparable situation would be if a Turkish film festival was to award a film that focused on the Armenian Genocide. This experience was an eye-opener for me since I thought I was doing something specific for Turkey, but really the language of film transcends boundaries. In the end, I told the story of a mother who lost her child. This could happen in any society, for different reasons, at different times. This consolidated my relationship with art; in a way it was like therapy for me, and a way for me not to forget.

BORAN, videostills - 1999 – Hßseyin Karabey

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EXCERPTS OF THE DISCUSSION Participants & speakers Meltem Ahıska Antje Heinemann Yasemin Özcan Kaya Hüseyin Karabey Estela Schindel Banu Karaca Dilek Güven Dilek Winchester Ayfer Bartu Candan Ceren Özselçuk Louis Fishman Stella Ovadia Hatice Caner Ani Setyan Erden Kosova Ayse Gül Altinay Can Candan Burcu Yildiz Ebru Karaca Osman Kavala S. Der-Meguerditchian

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15/10/2010 -First session MELTEM

Destructive forgetting is what national states do. They want to replace and destroy traces. But founding forgetting is something that connects the past with the future because the traces which maybe cannot be represented in narratives, which cannot be found in the positivistic way, as their presence cannot be proved in that way, continue to persist in forgetting recourses. The traces are there, but they may not be representable at the moment, but are there for future recognition. It’s untransmissible. These traces are untransmissible but they are not inexpressible. I don’t think it necessarily leads to coming to terms with the past because another obstruction you are right - could be a very intellectualized attitude. When I say intellectualized I don’t mean to say intellectuals but at a very mental level, also a trait of modern society, that we think, we react to things with mental construction rather than with emotional sense, with feeling it deep inside and reaching to our own unconscious register of things.

SILVINA

I’ve also got the impression that for a lot of people memory is much easier to intellectualize and put outside of the self. I think the theoretical way to deal with it puts distance to the issue. Personally, I wanted to centralize in an artistic action very strongly, to bridge this gap. The other aspect is that making Deep Sea Fish Audiowalk I tried to reach other parts of the population, not only the ones who are acquainted with galleries or contemporary art museums. This is a format that also speaks to people that likes to go to the theatre or to concerts. I’m very preoccupied with the elitism of contemporary visual art.

MELTEM

Art is not an automatic answer, I think. It can offer a second life because it’s not an attempt to go back to the original and to the origin of things, but shows how invasive remembering can be… it shows how forgetting can be activated. We should not be


Meltem Ahıska

very simplistic in thinking that every work of art, every piece of writing is of course connected to justice, but it’s not maybe sufficient.

CEREN

You started with a nice story about folk songs and the gardens. Now I’m wondering whether you connect those folk songs with a more committed moment of memory or committed places and also what kind of a memory that would be.

MELTEM

Thinking that this kind of memory is connected to a space, to a home, which can be defined as your corner of the world as Blanchot would say… As your corner in the world has been destroyed, these feelings of breakdown, this catastrophe, in its very general sense makes one think about the connection between memory and place. This would remind me that the connection could have been different at a different time where we are faced with a big question of homelessness and the fragmentation of memory in connection to place and the impossibility of returning to it. We have to think about fragmentation as a social reality and through which we can construct a second place, a second life. And this is of course artistic, has to do with aesthetic and political responsibility. We cannot redeem it, as Benjamin again would say, by going to the original or to the very initial

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primary which can also be an ideal that we assume to exist - maybe it never existed. I don’t know. I don’t want to idealize that. But it is still there: the idea that can be a starting point and an ending point maybe, but again, as Benjamin would say, we have to take notice of every trace, an impossible task but which still keeps us going.

LOUIS

Have you been uneasy with the responses you received or did you expect to receive these responses? What is your personal reaction to the responses of the art you’ve created or the art exhibits you’ve held in Turkey?

SILVINA

A lot of the people that came to the exhibition at BM Suma were young people under thirty and they were so thankful that I showed up here and am present. This was one thing that surprised me. Also with this workshop my wish is that co-operation could begin, as could exchanges… I suppose I’m looking for events that bring me back every time. And this is happening. But I’m afraid that we stay in our ivory tower: this is a concern.

MELTEM

I said that we should go against the institutionalised avenues of memory, which is a metaphor because memory can only be related to place, or resurrected or rethought, reconceived. Silvina’s audio-walk is a very good example of that. You walk through that neighbourhood which you are probably familiar with and with a different awareness of life there, which is always in contradiction to what is happening at the moment; you cannot easily go back to the “original”, as I was saying, but you can rethink this. But it doesn’t deliver the meaning of justice because it maybe prepares you for something with an awareness that you could work for justice on another platform… that was what I was trying to say.

SILVINA

I know that in the Armenian Diaspora there are hundreds of thousands of people thirsting for a


Ayfer Bartu Candan

German model. People there are like those here on the street. Maybe they don’t connect so much with art or so much with these “other ways”, these sensible ways. They need: please, finally recognise it! So I mean, in that sense we can speak a lot about subtle ways... But I think both have to run in parallel, official recognition is needed very much.

AYFER

I always found very interesting the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina and their political split, with groups of them refusing the help of forensic anthropologists helping them to find the bodies of their sons and daughters. Because it is - and I’m not sure if you are all familiar with this example very much related to the kind of things that MELTEM and SILVINA are talking about. Their way of pursuing justice was actually by maintaining the ghosts of their children. Because they knew that finding the bodies of their children would provide a closure for the state. But some of them insisted that: “Well, we know that our children are dead and we don’t want their bodies, we want ghosts of our children haunting the State” and that is their way of asking for justice. Meanwhile the way of some other mothers fighting for justice lies in actually finding the bodies and documenting the kind of torture, the conditions under which they died.

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STELLA

I think it’s about mourning. When you have a ghost it means you don’t want to finish the story. Maybe that is a very political decision or volonté not to mourn; they don’t want anybody to forget what happened. If you have places to go every year and say: “We have lost those people then” then you may finish with it and you may forget it. You may forgive. It is about not forgiving. I thought that maybe Meltem also talked about Derrida’s work about can we forget, can we forgive, do we have the right to forgive. This is what Nichanian also says: “we don’t have right to forgive.” But I don’t agree that it’s not transmissible. I think that trauma means it is transmitted. But it’s not in the positivistic way- that Meltem mentioned, it is in the subconscious, it’s transmission but it’s not a conscious transmission. So, I think mourning is about this untransmission, so if it is transmitted, if there are no ghosts, memory doesn’t have to be there any more. It’s finished, the ghosts are gone.

Second session ANTJE

In this talk I will approach this question: if creating art enables patients to process trauma, which artistic strategies can be utilised to that end? I would like to begin with a painting by the artist Frida Khalo. She tries to translate her pain into art. She said about it: “I’m not sick, I’m broken but I’m happy as long as I can paint.” To her, to be able to paint is to be alive, to live, to have survived, to know that she exists. So painting seems like a possible approach to enduring her traumatic inner fragmentation. Therefore a new perspective becomes possible. The client learns how to set a distance from herself, which is categorically useful in dealing with traumatic material in a controlled manner. Externalizing in to known processors allows for a distance which makes a new perspective on the inner events possible against the background of the loose of control experienced in the traumatic situation, the powerlessness experienced in the past. The importance of restoring confidence in the own


Banu Karaca Stella Ovadia and H端seyin Karabey

Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Ani Setyan

Antje Heinemann

Osman Kavala

Burcu Yildiz

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action competence cannot be overstated.

SILVINA

I was very interested in the different aspects of making a place feel safe, then your explanation of dealing with trauma in a controlled manner and so on. I was thinking how, if it’s possible, these strategies could be transferred to dealing with collective trauma. Armenians maybe do have a romantic place, but this romantic place - where they are attached - has to deal with Ararat… With Armenia. When it comes to speak about the place we really come from, we always have to deal with a broken image of ourselves. So in that sense our imagination is broken and full of void. I wanted to ask how you see this and if you can see how it could be transferred to this social collective level?

ANTJE

The safe place is not a real place, it’s an imagined one. The safe place that gives you empowerment to stay in the real world is in yourself.

SILVINA

Maybe the question should be: how could we create a frame or a context where it is possible to imagine a safe place again?

MELTEM

It’s interesting to think about how the traces of trauma are transmitted and how it works, and how one can overcome them by maybe imagining the safe places you are talking about, and imagining yourself in them perhaps in a different connection to the past. It’s not just the present that you would like to change, but also the connections to the past. We carry a sort of memory and mourn for it but maybe there are moments when you want to imagine a different kind of association with the past, a different kind of identity.

SILVINA

One of the things I said in the text of the walk was: “why is not possible to be Armenian outside of


the Armenian question?” I don’t want to be someone always attached to that question, I wish, if it is possible for other ways of being, or just to exist.

LOUIS

There is a feeling of traumatisation among a lot of the groups that suffered, or that their grandparents or the great-grandparents suffered which is interesting, right? Because it didn’t actually happened to them they don’t know if it actually happened; they only know it through their imagination. This is quite different to personal trauma, that aspect of it. There is no doubt that if you look at the Holocaust, for example, the second generation Germans and the second generation Israelis only started talking about Holocaust in the nineteen sixties, right? Which makes sense, you know? The older people didn’t talk about it and the children said: “What did you experience? Why don’t you talk about it?” They are traumatised by their parents not talking about it... And this probably somehow grows mwith habit. This is when the trauma begins in new forms.

HÜSEYIN

Some of the discussions you are talking about concerning traumas, I was also thinking about. We created some of them or want them to continue. But I also ask why we are trying to continue them? I think it is really related to our personalities and our culture because this is where we find our identity. I mean if you lose or give up the pain of your grandfathers or other generations you cannot identify yourself in the present time.

Third session LOUIS

I really like the idea, of a sort of moralization, and once again this trauma. The question of Germany taking responsibility is huge. To what extent have we accepted the responsibility for it and recognise it as an amazing phenomenon? Really it’s mostly inexplicable and could create a trauma in itself. I’m saying that it’s interesting how it can backfire sometimes; and younger generations can’t accept that something so huge happened. On the other hand

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the idea of it is supposed to stay with civilians working together. You showed the bottom line, that its civilians, not the state; and that is remarkable.

CAN

What kind of reactions do they get from the public at large? What do people feel about what has happened? So how are these monuments protected?

ESTELA

Maybe I could contrast two cases. The one I’ve shown, the installation of the Berliner artists Renate Stih and Frieder Schnock in the Bavarian quartier in Berlin. I heard Frieder Schnock about a year ago, and he was saying that he and his partner used to go there and see what they looked like. They had this dispute with the city administration in order to get funds to do the necessary maintenance, because in Germany you get funding to create monuments, but there is a restriction on financing maintenance to keep the monuments alive. And it looks nowadays as if the artists themselves were to take this responsibility, but what will happen when they are not there anymore? And there this other case, the grass roots initiative in Buenos Aires I mentioned, which I think is important because it is very localised. The people are there and in the worst case, when there is political motivated vandalism, the people go and say: “we will go and repair and restore these memories”. So I think it’s interesting to show how the memory actually is not attached to the monument itself but to the daily challenge of keeping it alive.

16/10/2010 - Closing session HÜSEYIN

We are in search of a model for Turkey. We are discussing the current models, right? I would like to tell a few anecdotes about these models. I think the Jewish problem is still taboo in Germany. Accepting something as it is also changes that fact into a taboo. I mean, I don’t think that the Holocaust is being discussed in a very healthy manner there. And I’m not really sure if we can


really adopt the German model because there was a world war and other countries restructured Germany. The moral dimensions of these countries were imposed on Germany. So there was a recipe imposed on Germany. In fact, the problem still continues in Turkey, and we are engaged in a very serious debate. I sometimes feel that we are being unfair to ourselves when we compare ourselves to other countries. I think we have to come up with a unique model for Turkey, but only for Turkey.

BANU

When we are talking about the Germany example, we were not suggesting adopting the same model, on a one to one basis or literally. The interesting thing about Germany is that first of all, there is a very comprehensive approach in terms of remembering what happened and they are only discussing how to remember it. It’s been ongoing for a very long time and it will continue in the future as well. Of course, the circumstances of that country are quite different from that of Turkey. The discussion point is not that we can adopt the whole system for Turkey, but still there are many things to be learned from Germany. So, what we mean here is not that we should adopt an example for Turkey neither that of Germany nor that of Argentina. So, that was not what I meant.

HÜSEYIN

I do understand what you meant but I was just trying to share with you how it’s in the study on the general public, how it is in society. So when we are talking about the system, the Armenian genocide issue is a big one and quite similar to the Holocaust which is the main rational behind it. I mean, the size and history of it is quite similar to that of Germany. However, the response to that model wouldn’t be the same as in Germany, so we need to talk about a new model. So I mean, if we are to say yes, there was genocide, the model should be a very different one because we have the Kurdish issue too. If we didn’t have the Kurdish issue maybe we would be able to. I mean, everybody in Turkey

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would be able to say: “yes that genocide happened”. But we still have the Kurdish issue. And if you try and adapt that system to Turkey the responses would be quite different, especially the Turkish government’s. The personal perception of society is quite different. This is what I was trying to say.

OSMAN

Before the Armenian genocide public order existed which it was about to collapse. That is why unprecedented violence took place after the Hamid period and during the İttihat ve Terakki period. The war called the War of Independence, was not a war against the invading forces of Greece, but also against the Christian minorities. So, the violence and the discrimination against the minorities of those days cannot be limited to the secularist ideology of the İttihat ve Terakki. If you do so and believe that this is the whole story and we just think that if we leave aside the discrimination effect of religion then the circumstances and results that you would obtain would be different. I do not believe that this is the healthy way to face your past, to face your history. The paradigm of the society of today should be a discussion of whether we can have solidarity without taking ethnic and religious orientations into account. So if we can answer that question then we will have a healthier approach.

MELTEM

Memory is always local, memory always has to do with a community, processed to the level of individual articulation of course, but always within a collectivity. Its connection to politics is very strong but these two, memory and politics, should not be collapsed to each other, that’s how I feel, because politics, like truth commissions or changing the law, is a struggle against the State. It works under different principles than memorywork but politics is also very important for memory, because it can create the environment for memory. I also thought listening to the presentations, especially Hussein’s, that we have to create the social conditions where remembering becomes something advantageous. I mean you get something


by remembering. Sometimes people don’t remember because they get something by “not remembering”. So we need to create these conditions within which remembering has a reward: If you remember, you would feel important, you would feel privileged. I mean that you become a better person in that social system if you remember. And this can only happen with the criminalization of certain state actions, by taking people to court, taking perpetrators to court and condemning this kind of behaviour. In that environment, I’m sure that people will come up with so many memories.

LOUIS

I’m very, very happy to live in Turkey the last few years. I was in Israel in the 90s. And in the 90s there, I felt something I feel here now, and that’s a very vibrant society. I remember then that people in Israel were quite courageous, looked forward. I remember people meaning it, people discussing the past. And close to 2000 this stopped; it was a screeching point in fact. And I hope this won’t happen here. And today things that we said in the nineteen nineties we cannot even say today in Israel. Now, with Turkey we do have a vibrant society and I think that’s important. People here want change. They seriously want change. So the question is: Can society remember? I don’t think perhaps the whole society can remember, but can society see injustice? Yes, I believe society can.

ESTELA

Where have Silvina’s fishes gone to? What happened to Silvina’s fishes? Silvina was so worried about it and I guess she put a lot of meaning in it. I think that this question is related to art, to memory, to trauma, to empathy, to all the things we have spoken about in these days. She made a very big bet: “I want to put my memory here; my fishes will trace the memory of my family’s history here” and I think all of us who talked to Silvina yesterday could realize how anguished she was. And you could realize how she felt: “This city doesn’t want to receive my memory, my traces, I can’t leave my traces in the city.” This is also related to what Meltem said

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Estela Schindel

yesterday and mentioned again today: that is to think in general terms of the relationship between memory and place, and memory in our contemporary culture, and memory and contemporary cities. Memory does not happen in a vacuum, cities are a context to which it’s difficult to attaching memory. As Hussein said, we don’t know who lived in our places before, nor do we have biographies inscribed in our surroundings. That’s a challenge for all attempts to inscribe or attach memories to cities, which is something related to contemporary culture and contemporary way of living in metropolises. But this is a frame in which we can think about it because it’s not only the fishes, but culture as well that makes it so difficult to attach it to places now, without minimizing the meaning of your fishes wherever they are now swimming to. When I was preparing myself mentally for this visit to Istanbul, I tried to remember when I first heard about the Armenian genocide. I can’t tell when I first heard about Holocaust because I grew up in a Jewish family and then you just grow up with it. I tried to remember when I first heard of the Armenian genocide. And I remember it was in Buenos Aires on a bus. I was riding on this bus. In Buenos Aires you get out of the bus’s rear door. There was a bell there that you have to ring to let the driver know when you want to get out. So everybody can see this bell, hundred thousands of people look at this bell every day. And there was a sticker close to this bell. So you couldn’t miss


Hatice Caner

it. On this sticker it said “Genocide: 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Turks.” So that is how I first heard of it. There were also posters on some of the city walls, on this public space kind of circulation of memory, which had quite explicit violent pictures. I was thinking maybe the stickers on the bus were also sorts of fishes swimming in the traffic of Buenos Aires, which is as chaotic as in Istanbul. Maybe those fishes were taking the message somewhere anyway. I still think that as Silvina was so optimistic in making this bet of memory that, even if the fishes have gone, her message might get somewhere too.

HÜSEYIN

I received an email last night about the movie that we recorded. And, you know, the movie that is talking about Armenians is also talking about the genocide. One of the actors or actresses in Turkey stated that she learned that her husband was half Armenian and because of that she just didn’t want to work on the project any more. She was warned by the husband. So, we are hopeful, and there are steps to be taken. However there is this fear, this morbid fear that we cannot really get rid of.

HATICHE

In 2008 we first had a collective movie screening session and when we saw Silvina’s movie (In between) we all cried and wanted to invite her to the Filmmor Festival. Then the Aferim Yavrum exhibition came and

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then this walk. I mean, everything is very closely associated with her first question. I don’t want to discuss if I’m the heir of a perpetrator, but when we accepted that movie at the festival, when we decided to show it there, we were not at the point where I’m now. I mean, when discussing the meaning of that film now, I realise how little I understood that time. But now, seeing all her works one after another and adding them all together at the point that we stand right now, I realise that what she is actually willing to discuss is that art -I mean all this denial, acceptance in society, denial, not denial - in fact, art can open so many ways, so many alternatives to this discussion. That’s what I realise now. All these little gestures, these little cooperations, everything that is done by Silvina, the movie, the exhibition, I think are very important. In this society I feel myself very open and despite that I never discussed whether there was a genocide or not, but I realise that we are not forcing ourselves to do something, to understand something. We just stop and wait for things to come to us. I mean, I was stopping and waiting to meet Silvina, that’s what I realise now. I wasn’t doing anything. I wanted to share this with you. Thank you.

MELTEM

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to you. It’s not just a formality or a gesture. I do sincerely thank you because although it’s been a small discussion, it was a very, very important one. I mean, it helped me to see and understand many things. It seems as if we were expecting you to come here; we weren’t doing much before. This is the feeling that remains, you know. We just had this melancholic feeling as if we were just waiting for somebody to come and trigger us. We should find a way to overcome this. It is really important to see how or where you stand. However, one has to keep in mind that there are different standpoints, like Hussein’s for example. He has reached a point that is quite different from many of us because he has his own way of dealing with his past, and he found a very influential way of telling his story. All the people who are telling


their own stories, they are telling them from their own perspective. So discussing all of them and seeing the similarities and parallelisms and also the conflicts between all of them is very important, I think. This makes me feel strong. I do believe in the importance of future meetings and future discussions that we can have as a group. I think it’s really important to take these steps for the future and some other artists from the Diaspora can also be invited because, you know, we can keep this interdisciplinary framework and can have even a broader art spectrum. So I’d like to thank you very much once again for giving us this opportunity.

STELLA

Meltem said that we should overcome this melancholy. It is very hard to do so. I don’t want to tell you anything about that because it’s difficult. Since I have wandered around Silvina’s exhibition and as I listened to the music when I was walking around I realised that there is not one moment when I don’t have this melancholy feeling. So, this being the case, I don’t want to get emotional here, but just want to thank you a lot for giving me this feeling.

SILVINA

This opportunity to be YOUR host, HERE, is something very special for me. I would like to close with one short sentence that I couldn’t include in the audiowalk because of the time, but it describes very well my experience of walking on the streets of Cihangir. And it is something like: it’s always a play between the sidewalk and the street. The cars are coming, which means that you can’t walk on the street, so you have to go on to the sidewalk; the sidewalk is so complicated to walk on that you have to go down onto the street again. This happens all the time in different places and is a kind of metaphoric feeling; it’s an in-between feeling that I have. So I would like to say goodbye to you with this thought until our next conversation.

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Imprint Edition Underconstruction e V. Leonhardtstr. 15 D-14057 Berlin Tel. 0049 30 32702400 Silvina_der@t-online.de www.silvina-der-meguerditchian.de The copyrights for the images and texts belong to the artists & authors Design: Silvina Der-Meguerditchian Asistent: Juan Manuel Moreno Sánchez Print: druckBOMBE · Frankfurter Landstrasse 52 · D-63452 Hanau Coordination: Barbara Höffer, Banu Karaca and S. Der-Meguerditchian Presswork: Asena Günal Videocumentation: Héctor González / S. Der-Meguerditchian Texts: Meltem Ahiska, Hüseyin Karabey, Antje Heinemann, Yasemin Özcan Kaya, Estela Schindel, S Der-Meguerditchian Fotos:S. Der-Meguerditchian, Yasemin Özcan Kaya, Hüseyin Karabey Translations: J.M. Goshgarian, Editors: Ara Melkonian and S. Der-Meguerditchian Editorial support: Olga Golikova, Florencia Young, Elizabeth Smullens I would like to thank all those who have helped make this project possible: Oliver and Avedis Neehus, Ulrike Dufner, Osman Kavala and much others Supported by:

IFA ZIVIK

Profile for Silvina Der-Meguerditchian

Dialogue Forum_Aferim Yavrum  

Initiated as a continuation of the conversations and exchanges on rapprochement that began with an exhibition I did at BM Suma (February/Mar...

Dialogue Forum_Aferim Yavrum  

Initiated as a continuation of the conversations and exchanges on rapprochement that began with an exhibition I did at BM Suma (February/Mar...

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