When a group of academics were dismissed from their teaching positions for signing a petition calling for peace, they decided to open a new space to create and collaborate. Kültürhane has been operating since 2017 in the city of Mersin as a centre for academic resistance and association. We spoke with Ulaş Bayraktar, one of its founders, about this creative project and the pathways for creative resistance.
№ ③Serra Yılmaz
Actor, director and translator Serra Yılmaz is not only one of the notable names in the theatre and cinema world, but also known for her multifaceted creative life and productions. We have talked with her about a range of ways of resistance, from cinema and theatre to setting and sharing beautiful tables.
Remembering is an effort made against time and life that pass us by, against being forgotten and being forced to learn to forget. Sites of memory and museums defy oblivion and contribute to the construction of a future based on co-existence, equality and peace by making remembrance a collective undertaking.
We need a documentary cinema of resistance, and it needs an audience that will stand up for it. The question of which stories we tell, share and document today is directly related to the collective construction of our social memory.
Censorship always leaves traces. It reconfigures whatever it operates on, even if it is ‘unsuccessful’ in suppressing artistic expressions in their entirety. Rather than destroying artworks, images or otherwise, censorship seems to break the bonds among people, among communities.
Today there are many words that are subject to widespread censorship, words that are ‘inconvenient’ for or ‘go against the interests’ of those who hold political and/or economic power. However, even though racist propaganda is illegal according to various international documents – and quite rightly so – it is rare for racist discourse to be subjected to censorship: What is called ‘freedom of expression’ can also turn into the freedom to insult.
Shahidul Alam elaborates on the severe human rights violations and abuses in Bangladesh: ‘While we undeniably live in a climate of fear, the role of artists, journalists and prominent citizens is ever pertinent. Forms of resistance and pro-active actions through creative means, should surely have emanated from such citizens. Their conspicuous silence and their complicity in the face of injustice leaves behind a taste that is distinctly bitter.’
Sofia Karim first produced ‘Samosa Packets’ in 2018 for a campaign to protest the arrest of Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam. They went on to become the artistic expression of a solidarity movement against widespread human rights violations in India and Bangladesh. The movement, called ‘Turbine Bagh’, continues its campaign, especially for journalists and political prisoners who are deprived of their freedom of expression.