Sunday, September 10, 2006

Censorship of screening “Light Armoured”

September 4th 2006. Monday night,Tepebasi Square, Istanbul.
Protests are taking place in Ankara because Turkey is sending armed forces to Lebanon. Policemen are gathered in the aforementioned square.

“yama” is a platform for contemporary art, an urban screen, that opened in July in order to communicate art to reach a wider audience in the city of Istanbul. The second screening started on August 13th and was programmed to finish at the end of September. “Light Armoured” 2006, is an animation piece by Istanbul based artist Ahmet Ögüt that is presenting a Land Rover transformed into an army vehicle of which representative character is unclear, due to the lack of any referential symbols. Stones coming from the outside-right side of the screen are attacking the jeep. This turns out to be a gesture because the stones barely touch the vehicle. There is not any kind of crime depicted. It was a constant anti-war gesture repeating itself all night in an era where television screens show national channels where nothing but violence, war atrocities and bombings are being broadcasted.
When September 4th, the police gathered on the square, they saw the work and got scared that it might provoke possible terrorists in Beyoglu and shut it down straight away. The following days the lawyer of The Marmara Hotels negotiated and discussed with police officers about art and its limits and how art can be used as a political tool in order to educate and give birth to terrorists. In the mind of the censor, the work was about nothing more than insult and provocation and shutting it off, was considered a protection towards society. The hotel who dealt with the issue was very patient, very well informed and completely supportive to the artist and curator.
Unfortunately, the policemen refused any other screening of this work and after a lot of pressure put on the representatives of The Marmara Hotels, ‘yama’ was informed not to continue screening it. The prearranged gathering party on September 7th took place without the work on the screen.
As initiator of the opening of ‘yama’, Sylvia Kouvali, who’s responsible for the first year of screenings, can say that she’s positive of the fact that “Light Armoured” was shown in public for twenty days and that the platform “yama” is functioning very well as a public art space since it is being noticed by the wider public.
“yama” will continue its activities, starting from the end of September as it was planned and the screen will stay shut till the date that Ahmet Ögüt’s piece was supposed to play.

For more information:

Contact: Sylvia Kouvali