Revisiting the ‘Maybe we will benefit from our neighbours’ good fortune’ exhibition

As part of the project we commissioned an art exhibition in Istanbul 2017.  Responding to the research themes and findings curator Isil Egrikavuk worked closely with the team to develop the exhibition ‘Maybe we will benefit from our neighbours’ good fortune’ about collective modes of being, ways of life and art practice. Via the 2017 exhibition, the project sought to explore the prevailing legacies of the Gezi Park protests in Turkish society today. Our research not only evidenced emerging new forms of visual rhetoric and modes of protest, but also identified how the Gezi Park movement sought social transformation via prefigurative enactments of new ways of relating to others in society. This is explored in the arts practice of the artists participating in the exhibition commissioned by the project. More specifically the exhibition captured themes of social relations and collectivity  as a ‘field of solidarity’, via a set of artworks produced by artist collectives. In 2020 we held a workshop with the artist collectives who produced work for the 2017 exhibition as well as the curator and gallery staff at the Halka Gallery, with the aim to revisit the themes of the exhibition and find out from the artists what impact the exhibition had on their art practice since. Focusing on the importance of shared creative work in the context of contemporary neoliberal capitalist Turkish politics, we discussed how the groups’ sense of working as collectives had deepened and how their methods had developed in new ways. The commissioned work for the 2107 exhibition brought together groups of artists who had collaborated before but not all of them within the framework of being a collective. The work produced for the exhibition and the exhibition experience itself consolidated them as artist collectives and they have continued to produce work within this frame. Reflecting on the experience, the HAH collective said: ‘This exhibition defined our identity as a collective, what kind of work we do. The work we did after was always relational, participatory, inviting others.’  The exhibition not only impacted on the artists, but also the Halka Gallery. Looking back the staff expressed that the exhibition not only fitted their ethos but confirmed their mission.

The video below captures some of the highlights of the day. Thank you to the Halka Gallery, curator Isil Egrikavuk, film producer Jozef Amado and his students, and all of the artists for this very productive and enjoyable reunion day.

About Olu Jenzen

Dr Olu Jenzen is Principal Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Brighton. Her research ranges over different contemporary themes in media studies, and critical theory with a particular interest in the politics of aesthetic form. Her research also concerns popular culture as it intersects with debates of gender and sexualities; activism; marginalized communities; heritage; and digital and social media.
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