"Scared of Murals"

Salt Beyoğlu

January 31 – April 21, 2013

13th Antalya International Film and Arts Festival, 1976                                                                                                                                                                                                         13. Antalya Uluslararası Film ve Sanat Festivali, 1976
Arşiv: Cihat Aral
13th Antalya International Film and Arts Festival, 1976
Archive: Cihat Aral

SALT Beyoğlu

A plethora of documentary material will be presented along with restaged elements from specific exhibitions that took place during this period, especially the 1. Mayıs Sergisi [First May Exhibition] organized by Görsel Sanatçılar Derneği - GSD [Visual Artists Association]. The project will revisit issues of artists’ rights, involvement and collaborations with workers unions, and the function and positioning of art in public space.

“Scared of Murals” is a research project that is open to written and visual materials that have yet to be reached. As such, it encourages active agents from the period to contribute to the incomplete archive, correct its mistakes, fill in the blanks and provoke new discussions.

“Scared of Murals” focuses on a specific aspect of cultural production that antedates September 12, 1980. The exhibition opens with the 1976 Antalya International Film and Arts Festival for which a group of artists were invited by the local municipality to make murals and public sculptures, and the debacles that ensued. The end note of the exhibition is a group photograph that captured professionals from the worlds of literature, theater, film and criticism among other fields, taken at the open-air cinema on September 11, 1980, during the Kuşadası Culture and Arts Festival.

The research and exhibition revive the period by tracing exhibitions, public art projects such as murals, collective and political endeavors that revolve around the GSD. Artists’ rights; the relationship between art and society as well as economy, labor and politics; debates on censorship and the cultural policies of the state are issues that are investigated.

The intellectual left, comprised of musicians, actors, writers, directors and photographers, played an active role in the shaping of the political culture from 1960s until the mid-1970s. However, as political and mass movements took center stage, in the second half of the same decade, intellectuals lost their primacy.

“Scared of Murals” documents the position of artists during the period between 1976-1980. Within this framework, the exhibition aims not to identify and stabilize this moment closed in on its own history, but to investigate what can be excavated and reinvigorated in the hope of presenting possibilities that exist outside of the hegemonic marketization of the art world that marks our current time.

On the title of the exhibiton
The title of the exhibition “Scared of Murals” comes from banners artists used in protest when the authorities barred them from making murals during the Kuşadası festival.

On the origins of the project
“Scared of Murals” originates in the digitization of the archive of the artist Ahmet Öktem. Öktem had photographed the First May Exhibition in 1977. The interviews made with artists and others who experienced the May 1st Massacres led in due course to further research on the artists unions and the processes of politicization of that time.