‘Fabricated news’: chairman of Contemporary Istanbul defends Turkish military action

Opera Gallerys booth at Contemporary Istanbul 2014 Courtesy Opera Gallery

Ali Gureli, the chairman of Contemporary Istanbul, Turkeys largest art fair, has accused the foreign media of spreading “black propaganda” in its reports of Turkeys military action against Syrian Kurds.

Describing international press coverage of the attacks as “fabricated news and comments”, Gureli asks the fairs “art loving friends” to “not take such manipulative news, comments, and posts seriously" and to not allow the "spread of information pollution”.

In a statement sent on 14 October, but dated 14 September, Gureli says: “Turkeys current operation does not target any ethnic group, nation, or country; rather, it purely and simply aims to neutralise the elements that pose a terrorist threat on a regional and global scale as well as to our country.”

His words echoed those of Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, in a speech last Friday, also stressed that the military action is “not against Kurds but against terrorist groups”. But Operation Peace Spring has been met with international opposition, with at least 70,000 people having been displaced by attacks on the border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, according to Kurdish officials.

Members of the art world and beyond have also condemned Gurelis statement. The journalist and critic Oliver Basciano describes the statement as “insane”. Writing on Twitter, he says: “Quite why they felt need to comment is bewildering, anyway good luck in getting international exhibitors next year!” Basciano tells The Art Newspaper: "The language of the letter was so strong, on an issue so removed from the mundane business of providing a venue in which to sell art, it felt ridiculous. The fact that the letter stank of an abhorrent strain of Turkish nationalism was, for me, awful too."

Hakan Topal, who co-ordinates the programme at New Yorks East++ Institute, says the statement is hardly an exception in Turkey. “No one can show political work in Istanbul museums anymore. Works [of a] political nature are overlooked or censored. Art spaces (except DEPO) are focusing on rather cute issues these days.” Jussi Parikka, a profRead More – Source