16/06/2011

Birikim Art Exhibition: Art and the Politics of Grand Openings








































Birikim School's public arts fair opened today in Bagcilar's Woman and Family Cultural Centre. The opening was overseen by the 'Belediye Bashkan', or local councillor, and it was rather ceremonious. The guy walked in to the tune of applause and cut the red ribbon while the kids were ready to greet him with trays of chocolate. And hand cologne, as you do. Another one of our students from the fifth grade lifted up a collection box for the up-coming Mavi Maramara mission to Palestine. What happened next I found was a microcosm of the AKP's official stance of unofficial-support to the charity enterprise:

Councillor: Ah what's this?
Student: We're collecting for the second Mava Marmara trip
Councillor: Marvellous... (searches pockets) er... (to public aid) do you have any money on you?
Aid: (not searching his pockets) No
Councillor: Right, well, a bit later let's make sure we put a bit in there shall we?

If this wasn't just a way for the councillor to show his approval, without wanting to show direct political backing, then the absolute believability of a politician not carrying change around made me chuckle. Just typical.

Government ministers and state officials tend to get to a point here where their entourage is responsible for everything. In Izmir, the education secretary would power down the halls of the council house like Darth Vader strolling the deck of the Death Star, everyone standing to attention with their backs to the wall if only more obviously bask in the light emanating from his buttocks. His equivilent in Adiyaman, Mr Mehmet Oztuncer, I found was alot more relaxed in demeanor, but then again you can't help warming to a man whose desk has a button which instantly makes a woman with tea pop out of nowhere. Turkish politics is a funny world glimpsed through a keyhole view i've had so far.

Anyway, the focus should be on the work of the kids really. The quality of the stuff on display was fantastic, and the kids behaved as though they were at someone else's parents' house: eerily well. The most beautiful work in my opinion was the burnt wood drawings, shown in the first picture. They use a special gas-powered tool to burn/roughly engrave marks onto wood. I do also have an admiration for 'ebru' art, or marbling, when it forms the back-drop to silhoettes or islamic calligraphy (also pictured).


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