Diyarbakır Hapishanesi Ne Yana Düşer ?
22 September Thursday 2011 - 19 October Wednesday 2011



Gökhan Gençay

Laden withmulti-symbolic meanings, The Diyabakir prison is  a curious space that bears to the recent history of thelands we live on.  Once home to thehorrible tortures and relentless opressive acts of  a period of dictatorship, for years it has also stood as oneof the turning points  in theemergence of an issue, namely the Kurdish Question. Within the high walls thatcircled it, the hideous oppresive mechanisms of fascism put unimaginablepersecutions into practice on one hand, and, on the other hand, by means of such systematic persecutions, italso drew  the road map for  facsism’s  ideogical goals. In the road map thus drawn not only were there acts of oppression,massacre and torture; but, concurrent with such acts, their actors alsodictated obedience to the rebels and assimilation to the ethnic identities.

It is alsopossible to peruse this prison’s place in the culture of symbols from anotherpoint of view, indeed, as It was also a concrete example of the fact thatperseverence and resistence  growout of duress and domination.  Theinmates imprisoned there and subjected down to physical and psychologicalannihilation or domestication inscribed the history of their resistence to itwithin the same walls.  It was also  a place where what  the capabilities of the defenders ofthe human pride  could accomplishin the circumstances when violence in the most extreme was being practised. Hitched to the train ofoppresion all over the world including, among others, such countries asIreland, South Africa, Chile, and Uruguay;  the Prison of Diyarbakir  witnessed the moments when the concepts of freedom andjustice manifested their incarnation, and carried, among its  cargo of miseries, destitutes andviolence, also the pride of  theunbending, the heritage of human pride, to our day.

To look throughthe prism of art at such a painful past where tradegy got  mingled with mythes is, no doubt,extremely difficult.  Remeberingthe well-known dictum of Adorno – after Auschwitz one can no longer write poems– it is of course true that, how ever hard it might try,  art will sound naive and fall short inits attempts to describe and explain the horrible events lived; yet, it shouldstill dare to “look at the agonies of the others”. The works that lose theirway in their esthetic pursuits on account of embellished  texts and pretentious rhetorics intheir reference to cells of the Diyabakir Prison are to be condemnedincompetent; yet, art should take an active responsibility and contrubute to aprocess whereby a society will encounter with its past and the painsexperienced during that past.

To produceimages, to utter words in the name of art for the sake of such issues is morelike to make headway on a very thin and strained tight-rope. Any wrong ormisplaced step will bear the risk of wasting all the pains experienced andresolutions reached so far. As it is impossible to have a closer look on therealities of the geography we live in by eyes  from without, the mostimportant thing, whereby an artist’s honesty will be tested, will be the causesthat motivate the artist in question to an artistic production  on the issue. Therefor, neither to giveadvice like a preacher from an ivory tower, nor to couple up with one of thepolarized views by  taking sideswith the well-known argument is the right way out. Any liberterian, any independent art must find itsway to its  own sensitivity bytrodding a new path  out throughthese two, rather dichotomic, views. Leaving  behind the old arguments about the harmony of essence andform,  only building a new  sensitivity on solid foundations willmake productions of art meaningful in the social sense and  usher us into a process of fertileinteraction. Therefore, while setting on the road to the past for the purposeof restoring the collective memory that has been shattered into pieces it isvital not to neglect the links of today to the past.

At this stage,whatever was experienced in Diyarbakir should not be let stay in the frozendarkness of a cold forgetfulness. The victims, executioners, murderers andrebels should be transposed  to ourday with all their vivid aspects and in their burning glow. Whatsoever is theruling conformist set of mind has been trying to hide should be recalled to ourminds in their full details. In order to heal the still-bleeding wounds, fistof all, it is an imperative to disclose what happened  to our nakedeyes and comprehend it  in ourconsciousness.  In order to achiveit, all that happened behind those walls should be exposed to eyes in fulldetails. First, the naked truth that does not fit in the coverage  of the rhetoric and manipulativefactors must be helped find its expression. One must also know that not to shyaway before the frightful reality might help us achieve the hope of a bettertomorrow.  Even only this might beenough to instigate the members of the large masses who have been exposed tothe official history and other propogandas to square accounts with whathappened there in their conscience, even if it might be limited with the scopeof their personal interests.

However, to becontent with instigating the large masses to square accounts  is not a right approach on itsown.  Ones who know that settlingaccounts with the harsh reality is a must should also  question their positions in terms of esthetic and content.Such a questioning will evidently start with some questions we will askourselves: Can there be an esthetic of torment and terror? What kind of roleone’s imagination can undertake in order to be able to describe thiscruelty  that was carried forwardby generations as a travmatic heritage?  Can the gravityof the matter and what has been lived through be expressed in full  by avoiding taking sides and only forthe sake of recounting it by a distanced eye? What distinguishes an artist’sposition from a political figure, or to what an extent is such distinction  required?

It is neithereasy to give sweeping answers to dozens of such questions, nor, It is theartist’s duty to come forward with flourishing and self-content answers. Thehistorical significance of the Diyarbakir Prison  and  theremifications outpouring from its walls unavoidably shadow the basic esthetic concerns of the art and theartists’ desire to unfold their creativeness on form. The harsh and cruelreality of what was experienced, take it or not, brings the subject matterforward against all the exercises of brain in the name of artistic production.

On the otherhand, the artistic representation of torture and violence is inevitably themost complicated topic of discussion at this point. A point-blanknarration  will, no doubt, have a“didactic” function for the new generations who were kept unaware of  such practices on the inmates by thepower mechanisms. Yet, to concentrate only on the cruelty of fascism and  to determine the course to be takenunder the impact of such  practicesof cruelty by omitting the connections between the different folds of the issuemight help feed the fears invoked by systematic teror of the Establishment andtrigger subconscious fears about the unfeasibility of individual/organizationalresistence against the Establishment. While trying to avoid it, to underestimate the cruel acts of terror or, on the contrary, tocanonize the fighters who sacrificed themselves in the front line of theirresistence fight as bigger-than-life heros will be another faulty approach.