Adopting the perspective of a foreigner has always been a literary technique for revealing the absurdity of all those daily habits and customs that we carry out mindlessly, because we are so used to them.
Journeys into the imaginary world help us to gain the perspective needed for acquiring a new view – one which is capable of opening new panoramas, and types of reality – whilst also serving as a form of criticism of the stupidity or unfairness of much of our fundamental and ingrained social behaviour. One mustn’t underestimate the value of stories such as Gulliver’s Travels or Brodie’s Report; those books which are considered anthropology just as much as they are science and art.
Sometimes we might wonder, in these staid times, where there seems to be an alarming, puritan attachment to censorship, what a hypothetical alien would make of a society that regulates behaviour almost constantly, sending messages of incivility, aggression, brutality, despotism, subordination, sexism and war (often to the point of exaltation) – whilst indignantly prohibiting (not to mention the chauvinistic practises of the commercial world of the subordination and restriction of workers) for example, the most basic expression of sexuality.
Following perhaps this same “logic;” in London it was ordered that the genitals of a nude by Lucas Cranach be covered up in an exhibition of the German renaissance painter – and on Facebook, the public campaign of a Scissor Sisters CD was banned, because its cover reproduced a beautiful photograph in black and white taken by Robert Mapplethorpe where you could see the bottom (covered by tights, of course) of ballerina Peter Reed.
And very recently, Sukran Moral one of the most interesting and international figures of Turkish contemporary art, has been forced to leave Turkey and take refuge in Rome after a barrage of death threats that she received after a performance of her work Amemus, at the Istanbul House of Art Theatre, involved a scene of simulated lesbian sexuality – an evident criticism of the manipulation of sex by the country’s authorities. The play also had to be cancelled immediately. In fact, even though Sukran Moral has often courted controversy, admitting that she has always sought to provoke, the artist says that she felt scared for the first time in 20 years of work – not only for her physical well-being but for leaving her work incomplete.
Moral is no exception however. Such an extreme reaction to her work is perhaps just a sign that the authority of the conservative sector of society is on the wane, making way for a vibrant and active new generation of Turkish artists and creatives in support of artistic freedom, transforming Bosforo into an even more fascinating place.
Rent apartments in Istanbul and prove that no amount of cultural obstacles will hold you back.
Translated by: Poppy