The Pool Grant 2017 Exhibition
[ 13-04-2017 ]
“It’s very sad that a person fears her safety, just because she supports basic human rights. In this atmosphere, fighting for women’s rights is a luxury for many people” – Gizem, 2016.
A tweet lured me to Turkey initially – an image of young women laughing in the street and the Turkish words #direnkahkaha, meaning resist laughter. It was one of thousands of tweets posted by Turkish women to protest comments by the country’s then Deputy Prime Minister who said women should not laugh in public. And it found me, 16,000 kms away.
I went to Turkey to learn more about these women and connect with them. Tentatively beginning to call myself a feminist at the time, I wanted to celebrate their efforts and add my voice to theirs in the face of media censorship and marginalisation.
I met 18 people on my first trip in 2015. Many identified as feminists or variations of the word. Others rejected the label and movement, preferring that their actions alone define them. As a group, they were unified in their outrage about skyrocketing numbers of murdered women – 1400 per cent increase between 2003 and 2010. On every other issue, they splintered: motherhood, politics, sexuality, tradition and religion.
When I returned in 2016, I found a movement being reshaped by the intensity of current events in Turkey – multiple terrorist attacks, a failed military coup and declared state of emergency. Where earlier there was defiance amongst those I met, for some a sense of defeat had crept in. For others, self-sacrifice for a cause less of a priority than self-preservation. My appointments were canceled more often. The mood on the street and in conversation was heavy and hesitant.
Through necessity of timing, Resist Laughter considers the influence of Government actions and rhetoric on everyday experiences of women in Turkey – on the street, in families, at home, in personal relationships – as told to me from those fighting for equality.
Opening Night: 6pm, Thursday 11 May 2017
Venue: Special Group Gallery, 270 Devonshire Street, 2010 Surry Hills NSW
Exhibition Dates: 5 – 17 May 2017
Artist Talk: 1pm, Saturday, 13 May 2017