The Museum of the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul will present a new exhibition Dec. 22, organized as the closing event of the “City Museum Studies in Turkey” project, which was initiated in October last year with support from the European Union.
The exhibition, curated by the museum’s curator Deniz Koç, will display the works of different artists, academics, researchers and other museums. It will feature human stories, new life experiences, themes of sharing and loneliness through the eyes of those who immigrate to cities.
The “Immigration Blows” section of the exhibition tells of European experiences and will host the Sweden-based, Turkish artist, Hakan Akçura as a guest. Video performances and photographs of his immigration experiences will be presented in this section of the exhibition.
One of the supporters of the project, Berlin’s Kreuzberg Museum, will present a history on 300 years of immigration in Berlin with interactive video and archive works in this part.The exhibition will remain open for a year.
videoperformance, 2006, 51 minutes
One-sided conversation recording, waiting for months after his call to Swedish Migration Board where the artist had applied for residence and work permit for the second time in 2006. Akçura explains the content of videoperformance record the day he sends it to migration board and carries this problem he has shared with thousands of other immigrants to media. The artist is not only answering those questions which would be asked by immigrant board, he also has the worry of answering questions they would never ask, and to share the first year’s witness and thoughts of a new immigrant regarding Sweden.
videoperformance, 2007, two-screen video editing, 8 + 78 minutes.
After joining the Istanbul Biennial in 1995 as an invited participant, I am a contemporary artist who has participated three solo exhibitions and dozens of group exhibitions, independent demonstrations, and a published poetry book.
I am a neo-fluxus artist.
I live in Sweden since January, 2005.
2 years before this date I met my wife, whom I fell in love with and I am an artist who has changed his city and country in order to live with her and two children she had before me.
When I landed at Stockholm on January 2005, one year residence and work permit was stamped on my passport on October 2004 that expired on October 2005.
Last October, for the extension of that period, we have applied to Migrationsverket and waiting for about eight months.
We entered the eighth month.
If I do not show this permit which is not extended and meeting for permission is delayed for an uncertain period, I will not be send back here by the customs of the country if I go abroad, for example, when I go in my own country.
After the meeting I mentioned about, with Migrationverket on October 2005, we made a series of phone calls.
We talked to people who think quite differently about when we might be called.
Some said “1 year”, some “six months”, and some “coming months”. Some said “right now we are calling people who had applied on July, 2005, and this means you will be called after three months”. Some said “right now we are making discussions with people who have applied at the same time with you, meaning your turn will come in a few days”.
We are waiting.
We are in lack of healthy explanations that would make this waiting period meaningful and bearable.
This crisis of confidence pushed me to this art activity.
Doing it is being postponed by him, when he would do is unpredictable and one side of the bilateral discussion which will open the door for “the extension of residence and work permission”, is me making this discussion, and to complete it.
Therefore, I would like to facilitate Migrationsverket’s work. I want to help them.
With this record, which I don’t know how long it will last, trying to keep it short, I want to document the answers of the questions which I think they would ask or answers of questions they would never ask, in other words all I want to say.
How many people are waiting with me, I do not know.
What problems Migrationverket lived, whether after these racist correspondence were they had to change the staff, train them. I don’t know.
Surely, there are reasons that can be understood and accepted by them.
But ultimately, I make this record where I think the thing done is practically to destroy, suspend my travelling liberty.
What will I do? Trying to sum up briefly, I will try to convey; what I’ve done in this country since January 2005, what I was trying to do, what I think, things I have observed, and how do I look at the future.
As soon as I came, a new form of life, “a family with two children” in my life, and moreover, I lived the required transition process for being able to live first time in a country and city.
For a while, a period had passed for learning what a new country, a new city, a new house, a new way of life is asking me, what could I offer for them, learning, teaching, trying to actualize where we would get along with.
Moreover, we moved a few months later. So after I come, this is my second house I live in.
It comes to the rush of moving … A period of time has passed in this new neighborhood that we moved with the organization of creche and school that the children would start after summer.
Some time, turning my face to my back, to my own country, İstanbul, I sent an application there. İstanbul Biennial’s concept was “İstanbul”. I offered a contemporary art event called “Istanbul rooms”. Was not accepted, then …
After moving inside the house, in a room, on a wall we created a small studio to work, and I immediately began to paint.
An old personal exhibition of mine “Kentresimleri” was drawn 150 years ago, and printed as etching. This was an event trying to put forth figure from drawn forms and converting 22 European cities’ core city plans to picture. Stockholm was also taking place in them.
The similar study method I used was a late term “kentresmi”. Its name was “Hecate and Empusa or Izmir bay”. It is gone from me. Now it is in a private collection.
Like most of the others who had gone to SFI, my first friends were also immigrants. Immigrants who have come during the same period or have come before me, though have no Swedish education or continue their education…Older immigrants…Our teachers…
In fact, I can say, the first institutions I encountered who provide Swedish education are government agencies or private institutions who undertake to provide the same training opportunities.
There is a series of life difference. You start to learn this country with them. Water flowing in house, hot water, heating are all free. If you are inside a space, dying from cold is not a question in this country. The power of public transportation…Albeit a very small sample, I observe the prevalence of metro network in this city which we say there is finally in Istanbul also. I observe the roads. I observe the lives flowing near me.
I made these observations in the same time, same months – mentioning about last spring and beginning of summer – for taking about 4000 photo frames, I travelled in this city from one end of the suburban line to other end as an artist. When forming a sentence from here, in reality an absurd conclusion appears: Probably, I know the ways better than many people. With its social, ethnic distribution, changing texture of the city, ranging quality of the service, and all the indicators of the city, I began to experience a new training.
I took pictures of what? I took pictures of this city’s wall tissue. So, what the local laws accept as crime. So, for whom the police forms special teams for capturing the people who do it. Graffiti culture, graffiti, stencils, stickers. New stencils pressed on them, new stickers that are sticked, new written writings. Of all the complexity. Trial of their deletion, the remaining tracks, of posts-glueings on them. From district to district, from periphery to the center, change of styles, textures, colors, words. Change of relationship forms with the passengers passing from their side. All. I tried to document all of the city wall texture. I have got such an archive about 2005.
When compared with 90s, perhaps I was in a city where graffiti culture began to decline, but at the same time as Istanbul, more than the sum of the population of this country, although more likely I came from a city where almost no graffiti culture was existing. Over time a photography exhibition project has evolved with at least 200-250 and at most 400-450 photographs. Since we had material to form such an exhibition, I could apply somewhere for an exhibition.
I applied to Tensta Konsthall because it was a contemporary art center of an immigrant district. But I think that place – later on I had a conversation with manager friends and I learned – does not want to be remembered as “immigrant district contemporary art center”, and given up this effort, and examples of this effort, and had entered the process of believing the meaning of making programs not different from the programs of a contemporary art center’s programs, alas!
I think for this reason, and perhaps also thinking that they would not be able to find support to meet required press expenditures, they rejected. But as friend has conveyed, they have liked.
At the same time, I began to experience another witness. This time it is the witness of a report, a research, a work done by my wife personally. Experiencing being with her, reading with her, and helping her…It was a research about “Crime gangs in immigrant districts”. This report was taking its strength from the interviews made with people who live in immigrant districts and have achieved very clear results. My wife made the analysis of this report and pulled the outcome document.
The resulting image, along with everything I look at is confirmed, perhaps, led to a very short time to know anything more I can learn. There were many requests of people in those places. They wanted to be seen. Although not very well received, net reality was that they wanted to exit the “status of being second-class citizens” They wanted equality, in particular in finding a job, in job selection, job attributes … They wanted an equality in which job rates being open or close to immigrants is not mentioned.
They were mentioning that in most of these regions, after seven o’clock, no public official including the police were staying. They were talking about crime gangs who grew up in such a reality and maintain security in these regions at those hours. Peculiar to those places, a whole new culture of life, total of habits, have developed and was a sum of indicators showing improvements.
At that time also, and perhaps one of the two works I can do – I can do one of two work-,I designed Engelska Riskförbundet’s monthly publication of the “Birlik” for one issue. It was not an existing journal with its content. Besides its design, I included about twenty articles to enrich all its content.I included 6-7 photographs of mine, one of them being cover photo. I saved the subject that take place on the cover and make up the weight of the content for this research. They accepted. They wanted. Perhaps “Birlik” was the first publication that issued the results of this research.
Graffities were photographed, as well as this city was toured from one end to another, became witness of such an analysis, and I spent time designing a publication with these results forming its contents. All of these, necessarily, would bring the conditions of designing more powerful contemporary art event and presenting this to somewhere, and it brought.
I designed a project calle “Reflex”. This was an “outside” art event. A multi participatory art event.
Immigrant neighborhoods, especially driving on the highway you can see their side, which is etched in minds, or in the case of a report that the illustrations used in those places you know, there are certain silhouettes. Everyone knows…Then on these silhouettes, these large, long and high structures, – the existence of which I learned in this country, I liked much, very functional, especially in the dark months of life has become an integral part of life, we wear for children with care, everyone wore – consider 30 meters big reflexers are hung. In the same form, perhaps in the form I determine, with the same sweetness, innocence, entertainment, pleasantness. Just visualize…Moreover,made of small again, yellow, white, gilt,and small pink reflexers. Connected with each other or sewn .
Who did this? The people who live in the neighborhood where these are hung. They have participated voluntarily to this event. Maybe I have presented, perhaps we have created forms together.
When were they hung? They were hung in every immigrant neighbor with seperate festivity.
How long will they stay hung? Two months… In these darkest months.
Highway traffic would always flow facing their reflections. Trying to understand what they were, learning, looking at it that way again. Vehicles, will pass telling us that simple message – not different than their actual usage: “Protect me”, “see me”, “don’t crash, do not give harm to me!”.
To provide such a simple sentence, with such a festive and public participation, is it necessary to have a very participatory process? For me it is necessary. Because the place I look at art is such a place. People themselves, as if they are in the flow of their lives, ultimately with a lot of parts arising from that ordinary life, not the existence of a so high, noble kind of creation of art , I believe in that artistic creation. I believe there is a creative potential even in people who call themselves ordinary. I believe, with a provocation, with a call for it, collectively, with participation, they themselves could constitute creation itself. I am putting together “art-games” from the point I tell “How good this would be if it were seen”.
Eventually, my “Reflex” project was such a project and of course it needed much support. It needed too much permission, operation (burocratic). Needed calls to be made. Needed labor – and this was the easiest, requiring not much money – Therefore, it should be presented somewhere. For doing this work with their collectiveness.
First I presented to Kulturhuset. Correspondence took months. It was a correspondence not requiring to last for months. Actually this situation brought for me to start to know another institution: Artistic burocracy. Correspondence took several months, and perhaps with mail amount reaching ten, while having a project requiring things to be said about, they talked about everything, sending me from here to there, however they never wrote a word about the project. Finally when they wrote, they wrote it because I wanted. This was unbelievable. “Lagom” ! I started to learn “lagom”. It is the most powerful and deepest institution!. It surrounds everywhere. I started to learn “lagom”. All habits, gestures, facial expressions, all collectiveness, concessions, cowardliness, retreats,tranquillization, started to learn “lagom” the code of calling back the animal at the bottom downwards and downwards,
Already been taught in all areas of life. So, does teaching it mean “passing” it to people? No. Aren’t there people who come to this country, becoming more Swedish than pure Swedish, having discriminatory even humiliating attitudes, even old hidden racist immigrants? There are. But, generally in this country, I think, there is not many immigrants who have been taught and adopted all of these mandatory secret codes. This country, to this country, to life flowing in this country, to people, to anything belonging to people, called into being a set of human, roughly looking to everything from two different aspects. How good is that! It is an extraordinary chance for Sweden to bring all this fortune, cultural exchange, different experiences of different civilizations to this lonely land free from war, painless, calm, remote, to the middle of these people belonging to this land.
Poor, was not there, was nothing too full, I do not mean a thing happened. Do not look from this point of view. Maybe it’s a powerful shaman in north, which has still intense relationship with the underground spirits , with a strong mythology, a completely different side of life, so lonely, so far, a very cold face, a sorrow that flows through all of them raised a deep culture of this country. Or else, how would a Bergman arise from this country?
While talking about this richness and lagom, the sentence I started is left behind: I was correponding with Kulturhuset. There was not a single word regarding my project in those mails one coming after another. Finally, I learned that, Kulturhuset had no objective and subsidy for outside projects. It is not accepted. I turned to Tensta Konsthall and send it there. With the same assumption and in good faith…For me, this place was still an immigrant neighborhood and contemporary art center and how good it was. Even though they found it interesting they did not accept also. Because they were not sure to organize the required support.
My studentship continued. In summer I went to Turkey with my family and came back. Good thing…It feels good. Upon returning, I started to make the big picture I wanted and finished: “My hero from 9/11”. It did not go. I still have it.
I worked for a web site that takes long to produce and still could not finish, almost believing that it is cursed. Tried to accelerate that process. I continued to enter the information I needed to enter.
I started to correspond with a publishing house in Turkey for following the published material, and for publishing my two poem books that I have filed already. Next year, I will try to procure its publishment.
In this process, at the same time, I studied the possibilities of the foundations and public organizations that support the artist. I decided to apply to several of them. I came into line for studio. The portfolio I sent was enough for them. They accepted immediately. Recently a studio was available but it was to large and expensive for me. I am still in the row.
I applied for studio support. “I applied for finding support for my “Reflex” project. Upon arrival, turning my face to my city, I applied for the provision of support for my “Rooms” project which I have told that I had presented to Biennal. From the sum of all these observations and thoughts I mentioned about, a picture weighted exhibition project called “Lagom” is developed. I applied to find support to it. I made several graphic designs in my country and here for making my way, for having support elsewhere.
The answers to most of these applications will come soon. With these answers, I will learn how long time I would spare for creation in the coming period. If my applications will be rejected I can spare less time for creation in the coming period. I will focus on work, perhaps design weighted, working in something that I did not do before to support my family. If my applications are accepted, thanks to these supports, slashingly, holding my main axis there, I could stay and live.
I love my children very much. I love my wife very much. I started to love this country more and more.
I had a creation which was the reason for starting to correspond with Kulturhuset while I was in Istanbul. When I was conveyed about the acceptance of my residence and work permit on October, 2004, they had made their decision based on art object I had presented two months before. Of course we had an “interview” but I had taken this art object to the interview and presented it to Migrationsverket. This was an art object named “About Hakan Akçura’s love and identity”. This was a book containing; my relation from the first day of our meeting which was the reason why I came, certificates of my marriage, photos of each stage, screen shots (screen prints), and after that my creative curriculum vitae, pages of my printed catalogs, criticism written for me, clippings of the interviews, my art and edition of web pages that include my art and my name. My photograph artist friend had taken photos of me from top while I flip each page of the book. While I was waiting the result of my application, I have presented all these photos as a slide show, to Kulturhuset, maybe each of them to be presented with digital press for a larger exhibition. With a project named “For residence and work permit”…They conveyed me that they could not find the possibility to exhibit in such a short time, and thanking, they rejected.
Since then, with all these flowing process 4 art books can be formed like that. Intensive flowed time. Intensive flowed life.
One of my child is in nursery school, the other one is in elementary school. They stay one week with us, and one week with their father. Their father is a very good friend of mine. From my school, from my wife’s environment, flowing through life, I started to acquire friendships slowly but gradually increasing. Some of them are Swedish. I met wise and creative, very brave young people. Both the culture of graffiti in the city, not the loneliness, light, shadow, other objects and people trying to document the existence of a total of times, and I’ve met a lot with them in the following months …
I liked the nature of this country very much. I liked the priority given to a child in flowing daily life very much. I liked people’s respect to animals and nature very much. I liked the sky very much. But one of the first information I had was totally against what I have conveyed. I have never seen any other country where such a large number of young population treating old people so hard, so intolerably as if they had joint resolution. They look at these old people like they do not need to live, like it is not necessary for these people to live there. Or sometimes they look at old people as they were ready consumers while others work. Young people were very tough.
When you look around from here, “loneliness” is reached. Such a large number, such a deep loneliness, one by one but the existence of human beings living together in such a country, it was not anything I can imagine. Of course, the origin of this loneliness, even if they are arrived later to this city-perhaps a hundred years ago, it is deep, it also has a strong impact on special deep loneliness of Swedish peasantry living alone 2 km. away from each others’ houses, sparse and scattered.
But for sure, I will never forget one day in particular. That day it started as if an interesting thing was being observed was a very deep education for me:
Our journey was with metro, where many Swedish and several immigrant children were in the railway car, was a journey from center to periphery to their region. Children welcome among themselves, speak calmly and with all the other Swedes, while we calmly looked around us …At a moment, where an internal language with known and hidden laws that flows through all pure Swedes knowing how young people should be looked at, one of the young men quickly slapped on wagon glass “thud”.
What kind of a state, gestures, facial expressions, total of ready sentences “lagom”, but also, unfortunately, in the eyes of immigrant children who deserve such a reaction, is involving the growth of a secret racism in an inner language. Unfortunately! None of them know it and live it.The people of this country, with a deep knowledge of civilization, they know how much of a civilized community they are in terms of equality and justice. These people are not still considered as Swedish people,still each of them is considered to be “invandrare”, would stay always like that, they have entered this country on foot and will continue to enter by walking… When will the community itself will be Sweden in the eyes of everyone? Very likely! Not likely! Very impossible! Not! World flowing booming. Migration from anywhere to anywhere…But the difference is that migration in general, is the migration of people to places where wars, suffering, death, massacre, torture, difficulty, is experienced with more different heat and places that experienced alike things, but not here. They have a story where almost none of these are experienced, only to find the stories of heroism one must go up to Vikings, Almost none of them have not experienced a date, only to find the stories of heroism to gidilmsi up to the Vikings, what good is that recently war, poverty, is not seen, what good is that very deep pain, torture, is not seen, and migration to a country where no laments are heard.
I don’t know. These are the observations of an artist who has lived for a year in this country. You can read me from here, you can know where I will be today from here, what I will do tomorrow, where I would flow my creation, what I will think, how I will stay, how I will live, someday how I will think or not think to be a citizen.…
I am “passing”! Am I included in here? No. But do I “belong” there? No. Such as who? Already like all migrants…They just cannot belong here.
The third generation is here now. Those who were born here. People who do not have other country. From out of nowhere “do not come from”. But they themselves do not feel Swedish. They are not encouraged to feel. Names, definitions, each being an “invandrare”… But they do not have other countries! I have one. Decrease? I do not know. Increase? I do not know. But I “pass” here. I have, but I do not have as much as a year ago!
We live in a cruel world. I think in a cruel world, this is a country where many things flow in a more fortunate manner.In this chance, perhaps for this chance to exist, I am an artist who stare at this sum that would necessarily be merged. I want to create from here.
If you have questions regarding my flowing relations, my family life, relations with my children, ask these questions to people in nursing school, people at school, my neighbors. I feel that, you will have more proper answers.
And in summer I will go. I will go to Turkey with my family. I have people whom I missed very much. I missed sun. I am very happy to see so much rainbow in all my in this splendid sky, however sun is rarely seen. Everybody know this.
But still a man who has come from the Aegean region, a man who comes from Istanbul, feel it very deeply. Blue sea, I miss real blue sea so much.
When I go out from the country, at customs, they will look at my passport to see whether I have “residence and work permit” in this country. For this reason I don’t go out thinking that I could not return. I am afraid of not being able to go out. I am sure that people who wait with me have similar reasons seperately. I don’t know how many of them were obliged to concoct excuse to take front queue. Either he “killed somebody” in his country or made somebody ill. Their queue was either taken front or not.
But I am just telling you my wish. “I want my travelling freedom! I did not do anything for this injustice. I am talking from a position where I can say, none of the people who wait with me has done anything. I had this record for helping. I will send it to you and make you see it. I hope that the process accelerates. I hope this works.
This is the reason of everything.
This is the reason of this art event.
I am here.”