Turkey’s precarious political situation affects Contemporary Istanbul
More bad news for Turkey. A group of fundamentalists have broken into the capital’s art fair Contemporary Istanbul in an attempt to destroy a work of art they considered blasphemous.
Ali Elmacı and his artwork I Can’t Reciprocate Your Feelings Osman III. Image via Hürriyet.
The work of art in question — I Can’t Reciprocate Your Feelings Osman III — is a sculpture by the Turkish artist Ali Elmacı, exhibited at the stand of Chilean gallery Isabel Croxatto. The sculpture is of a young blond woman in a swimming costume, on which is printed a portrait of Sultan Osman III. Osman’s short reign, which took place from 1754 to 1757, was characterised by a fierce intolerance against non-Muslims (in particular Jews and Christians), who were forced to wear distinctive forms of identification on their person. The gallery decided to remove the artwork from their stand, but the director of the fair, Ali Güreli, insisted that the sculpture remain present until the end of the fair. Today, Elmacı decided to pull his work of art out of the fair entirely so as not to create further controversy. Since last night, Turkey has been holding its breath. Social media sites including Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have been blocked, whilst political purges are becoming more frequent than ever. Two prominent members of the pro-Kurdish party HDP were arrested by the police this morning and the author Aslı Erdoğan is still in prison for her pro-Kurdish stance and her militant calls for the Armenian genocide to be acknowledged. The American State Department has advised the members of its consulate to leave the country.