Censorship debate scuttles exhibit
İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
One of the three controversial photographs shows two headscarfed women kissing each other. Artists reacted against removal of three photographs by ending the exhibit. DHA PhotoThe organizers of a joint exhibition in İzmir have canceled the event after accusing municipal officials of censorship for removing three contentious photographs from the show.
“We cannot accept this censorship,” İzmir Photography Art Association (İFOD) Chairman Beynan Özdemir said.
İFOD members recently called for its members to contribute to an exhibition titled “Aykırı” (Contrary). Photographs were submitted by 48 artists, with 33 images eventually selected and put on display at the İzmir Art Center at Kültürpark on Jan. 3.
But a national news agency reported that three photographs in the exhibition contradicted religious and social values. Two national newspapers then ran similar stories Jan. 8, with one article saying “a photography exhibition that insults religious values has alarmed the country.”
The next day, officials from the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality removed the three photos in question from the exhibition.
Members of İFOD gathered in front of the gallery Jan. 11 and demonstrated their disapproval by removing the other photos from the exhibit.
“Because of groundless and provocative news in some press organs, the İzmir Municipality censored the exhibit. Without informing İFOD, it removed three photos from the exhibit and closed them in a room. Officials said that they would not let these photos be displayed anymore,” Özdemir said.
Özdemir said they had so far opened hundreds of exhibitions in different parts of the world. “As photographic artists, we have never made religious discrimination. And in order to protest this censorship, we removed our photos from the exhibit.”
Among the photos that caused reactions were two headscarfed women kissing each other, two men kissing each other and a headscarfed woman wearing a bikini.
Barış Barlas, who took the photo of the two men kissing each other during a trip to Mexico said: “It is a real photo. This may be contrary to us but is accepted abroad.”