Turkish art commission incites debate

Turkish art commission incites debate

Sılay Sıldır – ISTANBUL
Turkish art commission incites debate Opposition is mounting across the art world after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government announced an art commission was to be licensed to fight against severe social problems. 

Last month the government announced that an art commission made up of well-liked public figures, artists and caricaturists was to be designed to play a role in finding possible solutions for social and political issues, including terror and femicides. However, the attempt seems to have become a social and political issue itself, with none of the listed members known to have had a particular discourse or outstanding past deeds in these matters. 

In the immediate aftermath of the related news headlined “AK Party’s [AKP] Preparations with Polat Alemdar, Hülya Koçyiğit” published on Feb. 17 in daily Türkiye newspaper, actors and culture centers expressed concern through various media over the quality and purpose of an art commission held by the state. The timing of the announcement for the state powered art commission also stood out as another problematic issue, as the current social agenda is full of criticism on the policies and practices associated with state violence. 

Art critic Beral Madra was asked what it meant for this art commission to be made of celebrities without a specific background in the fields of public resistance, especially in this social environment.

 “What the ruling party is going to utilize for its interests is not art but entertainment and event business,” Madra said. 

Art was a very serious creative human production with its own ideological and most of the time dissident infrastructures, Madra said. 

“The [government] commission of art is a Soviet type of activity or institution and only serves the interest of the ruling power. It is out of the question that contemporary artists, ‘real artists’ I mean, would collaborate on this kind of manipulated construction. Art is against violence and never in tune with the source that creates violence,” Madra continued.

“Concerning the ongoing so called low-density war in southeast Turkey, the people are psychologically far from being influenced by film, TV actors, actresses and other event industry persons. I think here there is a manipulative approach toward the people, who are supposed to be TV soap opera lovers and entertained and forget their traumas.

“First of all, an artist who is going to be appointed to heal the spirit, the people or to give them a kind of solidarity should have proven himself/herself as a person, who has fought for peace,” Madra concluded.