[-empyre-] Documenting & Dancing Repair

Selmin Kara selminkara at gmail.com
Wed Nov 27 11:51:40 EST 2013

Thanks for the very interesting comments and contexts, Johannes. I will
briefly address the now-iconic sufi dancer from the protests as I have
talked about it briefly in a recent conference presentation on the Gezi
movement. My focus wasn't on his performance so my interpretation will be
from a limited perspective. I think that one of the reasons why the image
of the sufi dancer resonated with the crowds is that it accentuated the
incompatibility of the ruling party AKP's sunni Islamist model of
majoritarian democracy (aka "political Islam") with the highly revered and
popular philosophical traditions that are associated in the country with
"Anatolian Islam," a term used for the hybrid, pluralist discourses
derivative partly of Rumi's mysticism and seen as particular to the
geography. (I am using the word philosophical only colloquially here as it
is technically incorrect to categorize mysticism as a philosophy;
hopefully, experts of the field will forgive me). In other words, what we
saw was in a way a pitting of one Islamic political approach against
another, in reference to AKP's insistence on pulling politics to religious
grounds. By embracing the image of the Sufi dancer, the protesters debunked
AKP's polemical argument regarding the supposedly anti-religious stance of
the secularists in the country (I am an atheist myself but most secularists
identify themselves as religious), while at the same time pointing to the
existence of alternative political discourses within it. The sufi dancer
gave the secularist muslims a voice in this sense, together with the also
alternative image of the "anti-kapitalist muslims". If the former pointed
to the non-pluralist tonality of AKP's political Islam, the latter framed
it as a product of neoliberalism, therefore helping crystallize the
dividing lines.

The make-up did not really leave a big impression on me as we have a long
history of male performers with make-up on (the zenne tradition is one
example) but perhaps that's just me. Others might have found it
significant. The gas mask, on the other hand, was quite powerful as a
unifying image.

On Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM, Johannes Birringer <
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> dear all
> Patrick's comments on "repair" were fascinating, and would surely deserve
> more response and discussion as I think they touch upon
> a different kind of activism that, one could argue, is environmental &
> ecological and thus ties with a number of projects I can remember
> that were not directed at, nor coming from, art/world/artistic and
> academic fields and contexts  (and I am aware that it is tempting and also
> often misleading to juxtapose or divide artistic actionism from community
> activism or those who would consider themselves working primarily
> within locales, barrios, neighborhoods and communities) but strove towards
> varous kinds of recuperation, healing and repairing, not just of objects
> but also of polluted land and disaggregated and divided communities,
> groups, families, and also recovery from trauma, loss.
> [Patrick schreibt]
> >>
> Steve's installation of broken objects (above), and its subsequent
> documentation, or the installation of broken items as a form of
> documentation, got me thinking about how the art of repair makes small but
> meaningful interventions into issues of industrial waste, alienation from
> the built environment, new forms of knowledge in an industrialized age, and
> recycling and reuse.
> >>
> I'm sure many here can think of other examples, and of how documentation
> or dissemination of the ethics/politics involved in repair plays into the
> action and is
> & becomes a necessary part of oral and not-oral histories.
> As an afterthought, to my post yesterday regarding the Gezi Park protests
> in Istanbul, I forgot to expand on the dancer who brought the Sufi/whirling
> dance into
> the demonstrations and extended it/expanded it over a period of time, as
> far as  I could tell from the film document; I mean I was trying to
> understand what the performer
> (wearing make up and non traditional costume, quite eccentrically) was
> doing, what he was adapting, and and how the ritual dance (from the Sufi
> tradition) might or would
> function politically and culturally in that specific context of popular
> resistance/uprising.
> Hayriye Koç Başara suggested that she was particularly, and emphatically
> impressed with the way in which this dance seemed to cut across/bind and
> co-align different groups (secular, religious, Muslim, Christian, orthodox)
> within the Turkish crowd at the Park. Here it might be important to reflect
> perhaps on Zach's proposition of the mask  (opacity), and contrast that
> strategy of making someone/something illegible with the
> strategy of "recuperation" of, say, an ancient (sacred) tradition for
> political ends. That tradition would have to ring, reverberate, and be
> recognized in the dancer (interestingly
> the dancer wore full face make up, green and black if I remember.....) and
> in that secular moment of repairing the people's free expression on the
> park.
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> dap-lab
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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