Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

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Date | 10.05.2016 - 13.05.2016
Venue | Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3 , 1010 Vienna, M13a and Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Aula

Lectures, Panel Discussion, Exhibition

The project New practices of social movement and its transformative potential after the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul will be analyzed with lectures, a panel discussion and an exhibition.

The event is organized by the Conceptual Art study program at the Institute of Fine Arts at the Academy.

Contributions by Foti Benlisoy, Çetin Gürer, Hakan Gürses, Zeynep Tül Akbal Süalp, Göksun Yazıcı

Concept: Marina Gržinić with  Betül Küpeli, Cansu Berksan, Esra Özmen, Songül Sönmez, Reha Refik Taşcı and Onur Serdar.


Ezgi Erol © Grafik: Onur Serdar


The Gezi Park protests in Istanbul started in May 2013 with the occupation [Go-In, Sit-In, Be-In –] of the public park in Beyoğlu/Taksim by critical activists. In the beginning the occupants opposed the land use plan, which seemed to be a devastation of the park for the benefit of economic interests. Shortly after 100,000 citizens occupied the park and Taksim Square and a nationwide protest movement began with squatting and a new definition of the public space.

The wave of protests was not just about Gezi Park but also a longstanding deep uneasiness in society with the problematic government model of the AKP, the status of the Kurds, the arrests of journalists, the denial of the genocide of the Armenians and so on. Many different citizens’ initiatives and groups came together under the circumstances of a general dissatisfaction with the Turkish government.

LGBTIQs, feminists, Kurds, the so-called anti-capitalist Moslems, the chamber of architects, Turkish nationalists… With the occupation of Gezi Park a whole generation became politicized, experiencing something that was never present before the takeover and occupation of a public space. Using tear gas, armored cars, water cannons and imprisonment, police power was exercised without limits.

The Gezi Protest is primarily outrage against the ruling neoliberal system and the political organization of the ruling powers. In the search for alternative forms of society these social movements provide us with new practices and transformative potential.

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The following questions and topics can be raised in relation to Gezi:

  • How did Gezi happen and which national and international dynamics were the crucial factors?
  • The organization and shape of the Gezi movement, its aesthetic language, its forms of media and communication
  • The interdependency between politics and art
  • Restrictions for such movements, for example: monitoring as a safety measure, excessive police presence and added power for security forces, spatial design for Taksim Square (a jungle of concrete), etc.
  • New restructuring with the help of such methods
  • The aestheticization of the protest and its recycling as  a capitalist tool (the protest as commercial material)
  • Subtle interventions in the public space
  • The physical territorial change of public space and its symbolic value
  • The (dis-)connection between the Gezi movement and the Kurdish political movement seen as actual developments in Turkey.
  • Which alternative structures and visions appeared and were built during and after Gezi in a search for new forms of collectivity?

For the development of a revolutionary theory a deep understanding of bottom-up movements is necessary.


Foti Benlisoy graduated with a degree in law at the University of Istanbul. His graduate and postgraduate work relates to the history of science. In addition to his professional activities as a journalist and lawyer he deals with the social movements in Turkey inter alia, not only in theory but also as an activist.

Çetin Gürer (PhD) studied sociology and political science at the University of Hamburg. He received his doctorate in political science in 2015 at the University of Ankara. His book Democratic Autonomy as Citizenship Heterotopia was published in 2015. His research topics include Kurdish issues and democratic autonomy, modern models of regional autonomy, citizenship and social movements. Until recently he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nişantaşı. He was fired from the university because of his participation in the petition campaign I will not be a part of this crime, created by Academics for Peace.

Hakan Gürses (PhD) lives since1981 in Vienna. Currently he is the scientific director of the Austrian Society for Political Education (ÖGPB – Österreichische Gesellschaft für politische Bildung). Gürses worked in several fields. Teaching activity, several research projects and memberships are among his work areas; 1997-2011 Lecturer and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vienna.

Zeynep Tül Akbal Süalp, Professor, Doctor. After her baccalaureate in psychology she studied at the City University of New York and cinema and cultural studies at New York University. She completed her graduate studies in sociology at Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul and also studied cinema at Marmara University. Her work focuses on film, media, cultural studies, space and forms of representation of space. She published the following books: Taşrada Var bir Zaman (There is a Time in the Province, 2010), Sınıf İlişkileri Sureti Soldurulmuş bir Resim mi? (Are Class Relations a Fading Scenario?, 2011), Külkedisi Manifestoları (Manifestos of Cinderella, 2015).

Göksun Yazıcı is a writer and editor. She works in asylum and children protection programs for people from Syria in Urfa, Hatay and Istanbul. Her work is focused on topics such as political economics, gender studies, and migration. She writes for the magazine Express and is also an activist.

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Public events, free admission

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, main building, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Aula

16.00 Vernissage and Exhibition

This exhibition is a collective project of artists and activists from different countries in search of a political-artistic and emancipatory future.

Greeting: Andrea B. Braidt, Vice Rector for Art and Research
Introductory remarks: Marina Gržinić, Professor of Conceptual Art
Presentation of the exhibition: Betül Küpeli

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Main Building, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Conference room M 20

18.00 Lecture 1
Zeynep Tül Akbal Süalp talks about film, resistance and media in Turkey.
After the mid-1990s we come across diverse and conflicting tracks in Turkey’s cinema. The films mostly seem to be apolitical, individualistic, and self-oriented. However, we can also observe a significant amount of films that seek answers to the silent tension of a nationalist and fascist society. This is the cinema of vacuumed and sealed image subjects, of a city with glorified and alienated, remote and lumpen “Nothingness”. It is also a search for confrontations and encounters that I like to call “night navigations” and “dream stalking”.(Language: English)

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, main building, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Conference room M 13

16.00–18.00 Lecture 2

Foti Benlisoy and Çetin Gürer talk about political activism, the state of affairs in Turkey and the initiative Academics for Peace.

Foti Benlisoy

It is crucial to note that in Syria the guided proxy war is confronting the crisis of Erdoğans AKP. The AKP gained a new grip on the State. In society, around “nationalist” and “domestic” topics, new “uniting” and “mobilizing” meta-narratives were put on the agenda.  With the usage of the war, the amendment of the Constitution, and a “Turkish” presidential system, “an absolutist one-man-one-party regime” was put on the agenda. With this the friend-enemy-principle of war is realized in extreme forms and results. This lecture is about two interlinked wars (inside and outside) and about a new constructed regime through these wars. (Language: English)

Çetin Gürer

On the 12th of January 2016 the initiative Academics for Peace declared the petition campaign We will not be a part of this crime!. In the beginning there were 1,128 academics, and shortly after 2,218 academics supported the campaign and signed the petition. Through its sharp criticism of the AKP government and its outcry against the murder of simple, unarmed citizens, the petition is a historically important moment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has condemned the campaign immediately as a provocation, which has provoked strong repression against academics. Why did this campaign irritate the AKP government and Erdoğan so much? Why was a simple petition seen as such an important issue? How did this petition unmask an authoritarian government, and what lessons can be learned from it?
(Language: German)


Panel discussion with Foti Benlisoy, Çetin Gürer, Zeynep Tül Akbal Süalp and Göksun Yazıcı
Moderation: Hakan Gürses
Turkish-German, simultaneous translation in two languages: Öncel Seçgin

Foti Benlisoy

The Gezi uprising, with its collectivity and its radical forms of resistance, was one of the most consequential rebellions in the recent history of Turkey. Despite the collectivity and the “over-political” radicalism, it was not possible to bring a lasting change. Instead this uprising, like all other uprisings that have been prohibited and prematurely suppressed, has been confronted with a political reaction. What caused these reactions? Which inputs, both positive as well as errors in the phase of becoming a political collectivity, can be mentioned or named? What were the reasons for the disintegration of the Gezi alliances? Was the Kurdish question an “Achilles heel” that uncovered the limits and weak points of Gezi? Three years after Gezi, what can we learn from a movement that was conditioned by war, deep authoritarian policy and an incomplete uprising? Is it possible to compare the “disaster” of Gezi with the withdrawal of the radical-global movement after 2010? What kind of parallels can be drawn with the defeat of the popular revolts in Egypt and Syria (one by a military coup, the other torn apart by a power struggle)? This is an attempt to question these and similar topics.

Çetin Gürer

After the Gezi protests an important question remains: “Where were the Kurds?” Three years after Gezi the question of the political position of the Kurdish movement determines the daily agenda in Turkey. This hypothesis implies that Kurds did not participate in Gezi and the Kurdish movement did not support Gezi. The validity of this assumption can only be measured if the question “What did Gezi leave for the Kurds?” is also taken into consideration. This lecture is about the relation between the Kurds/Kurdish movement and the Gezi protests, both during and after the period.

Zeynep Tül Akbal Süalp

We are going through a period in which social movements and forms of resistance spread manifold. By this many new prospects and “doors” open up, and new questions rise while considering the building of tomorrow in the now. Moreover, fascism with its concrete conditions no longer waits in front of the door but has conquered the barrier and is already waiting for the moment when the “wind” will change into a storm.

Göksun Yazıcı

On the 28th of May 1871 the fall of the Paris Commune was proclaimed. This was the day of the defeat of one commune; nevertheless, new communes are waiting for us. On the night of 31 May 2013 dreams come true. For 14 days Taksim and Gezi Park were home to a commune fenced with barricades. Today it seems that freedom movements disintegrate like days in a calendar. But the dreams of the movement are not dead, its spirit is immortal. What happened in Turkey after the resistance in Gezi Park? The reactionary security methods of the government, which was voted out on June 7th in 2015, and the politics of violence in order to recuperate power have narrowed the political breathing space. In this panel I will discuss these “contagious” elements: the security and violence politics of those three years, the path from Gezi to voting stations on June 7th, from Suruç to Kobane and Rojava to the role of Turkey in Syria. Part of the panel discussion will be focused on how existing signs of life and pulses found another alternative policy and are reinterpreted.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, main building, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Conference room M 13

17.00 Lecture 3
Göksun Yazıcı talks about Turkey, the war in Syria, Europe and refugees.

The powers of the world are involved in the war in Syria. Although this was defined as a “civil war” in the mass media, it is really groups who are fighting on behalf of the powers of the world (though ISIS has its own agenda). The first part of this presentation will be focused on the war in Syria, Turkey, Kurdish Militia YPG, Assad, Saudi Arabia, USA, Russia and Europe. The second part will be focused on the “humanitarian” consequence of the war. Although the rebellion was started by the Arab Spring (as they call themselves, a dignity revolution) the process was followed by armed conflict provoked by dominant world powers. In five years millions of people were forced to migrate, becoming refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Europe. The crisis is not just humanitarian. On the contrary, the label “humanitarian” is used to cover its political and economic nature. In this part the negotiation between Europe and Turkey for refugees will be discussed; also, other politics that can be employed for refugees (and with refugees) will be questioned. (Language: English)

19.30 Finissage

23.00 Club FLUC, Praterstern 5, 1020 Wien 

Concert EsRAP »Rap for revolution!«

EsRap are 2 artists (Enes and Esra) who present their texts in German and Turkish languages. Enes and Esra (EsRAP) are outspoken about Austrian politics. The two siblings deal with social-critical topics and hope to make people think.

psychodelic Turkish rock from the 1970s, fusing elements from genres such as progressive rock, punk, and electronica.

Special thanks for support and cooperation to Eva Blimlinger, Andrea B. Braidt, Mona Hahn, Muzaffer Hasaltay, Claudia Kaiser, Linda Klösel, Dunja Reithner, Sibylle Schwarzkogler, Jens Kastner (all Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) and Lee Teodora Gusic, Hakan Gürses, Öncel Seçgin, Walter Seidl, Miško Šuvaković (FMK, Belgrade), Martin Wagner (FLUC), Stefan Angerer, Tuğba Küpeli, Haydar Sari (MA 7), and the many others who have supported this project.