Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kutluğ Ataman disowns the Turkish government

Kutluğ Ataman, a Turkish film maker and contemporary artist who has an international reputation that is crowned by the Carnegie Prize (2004), Capital Abraaj Prize (2009), and the European Cultural Foundation's Princess Margriet Award (2011), was interviewed by Ezgi Başaran in the daily Radikal on Monday, January 9.

Ataman states that he was a supporter of the AKP government during the last two elections (2007, 2011), in the process leading to the election of Abdullah Gül to presidency in 2007, and the referendum of September 12, 2010, which amended the Turkish constitution.

After the infamous speech of the Turkish Minister of the Interior
İdris Naim Şahin on December 26, 2011, in which Mr. Şahin invented new categories of terrorism such as terrorism by art and science done by artists, authors, and professors, Ataman states that “not a single artist and producer of culture who represents contemporary Turkey ... can support the government. Because s/he would have no credibility, at least, on international platform.”

Ataman states that he himself did not change from an AKP supporter to an AKP critique. It was rather AKP that has changed and become an obstacle on the path of Turkey: “I feel fooled, stupid. And as a gay man, I deplore the minister.” [Mr. Şahin’s speech included, among others, this homophobic statement with reference to
KCK (Koma Civakên Kurdistan, Union of Communities in Kurdistan): “It is an environment where all kinds of lewd behavior, moral corruption, every form of inhuman state takes place, from eating pork, to Zoroastrianism, from whatever nation and brotherhoods, to, excuse my language, being gay.”]

Despite his frustrations, Ataman is optimistic. “Optimism is my ideology. Because s/he thinks that there is nothing left to do, a pessimist is --in the final analysis-- a supporter of the status quo. Even in these dark days when the state is bombing its own people, I have to be optimistic. This is my duty as an artist.”