Ankara Queer Art Program

Ankara Queer Art Program About

Ankara Queer Art Program - Artist Residecy, which plans to host visual artists from Turkey and abroad in Ankara every year, focuses on the possibilities of artistic expression of queer politics and new possibilities. The program provides artists with 8 weeks of both living and working space while supporting and promoting production and research processes.  During this time, artists have the opportunity to work with artists, activists, academicians, and curators from Turkey and hold meet-and-greet meetings for possible collaborations with different art fields.



The capital, Ankara, is an artificially constructed city. While being invented as a project its history/roots have been removed during the establishment of Turkish Republic. It used to be a cosmopolitan settlement of the Ottoman Empire with its non-Muslim indigenous population and which hosted Western traders who frequently came for the goat trade. It had been a city that bears glorious traces of history such as Roman and Byzantium eras, all of which were ignored while it was presented as a steppe town that had been created from nothing. The population structure of the multi-layered, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic city has been changed through homogenizing and presenting it as a showcase of the nation that unites under the umbrella of a single language, race, and religion. This is why you may suddenly face a Roman column, an Armenian vineyard house, an 800-year-old mosque, a church wall, and rare examples of modern monumental architecture of Turkey as you wander the streets of the city today.


Culture, Art, Critique, Resistance in Ankara


In addition to all this, the capital Ankara, which is endowed with the joy of being a small-scale-metropolis, also carries the lovely face of a provincial town in a cosmopolitan environment that hosts metropolitan facilities but does not force people to long distance tranportation with all its complications, or neither to an exhausting, violent pace. The cute face of the provincial: in other words, the "friendly" aspects of the community relations are experienced, rather than a surveillant, supervisor face of a provincial town; naivety, real curiosities, real amazements are what you will encounter... The days pass with thinking and making conversations in this university and civil servant city. Ankara's social and political environment during the 1960s and '70s is where metropolitanism/cosmopolitanism and the provincial lighten each other out.


Ankara, is the city of Maarif, which had a translation bureau that became a gathering place for the literature circle of 1930's that encompassed writers such as Orhan Veli, Sabahattin Eyüboğlu, Melih Cevdet Anday, Azra Erhat, Nurullah Ataç, who colored the social and intellectual life of the city while working on the translations of  world literature; Ankara is the city of the creative and brave women of Language, History and Geography Faculty and National Radio and Television of Turkey like Behice Boran, Mediha Berkes, Sevda Şener, Adalet Ağaoğlu, Sevgi Soysal. The city of Damme Ninette De Valois, the founder of modern ballet in Turkey and that is also her who laid the foundations of the state opera and ballet and it is the city of Madame Marga, who popularised modern dance introducing it to the public.


During early 1950s, with the circle of Helikon, Ankara became a pioneering city of electronic music which has become the atonal wing of the second new poetry wave of Bülent Arel, Bülent Ecevit, İlhan Usmanbaş, İlhan Mimaroğlu, Ece Ayhan, Ertuğrul Oğuz Fırat, Hüseyin Cöntürk, Bilge Karasu.


The universities of Ankara, that defined the city as a university-city, and which are all inscribed  in the country's history of resistance, when in the 1968s the city witnessed how creative and revolutionary desire could be politically. The city became a center, where in METU posters are produced and were being distributed to whole country. It became the city of works of art that were produced in wood and metal workshops and also sexually libertarian balls, and also the city of Arkadaş Zekai Özger.


The city with the most vibrant art and culture environment became barren after the coup of 1980. Later places like Galeri Nev, Siyah Beyaz, were opened where modern and contemporary art community came together with many people coming from political resistance and philosophy, and also the young architects from METU. 


The establishment of METU Audio-Visual Systems Research and Production Center (GİSAM), which became a research lab through the workshops of artists and philosophers such as Angela Melitopoulos, Volker Schreiner, Hito Steyerl, Ursula Biemann, Maurizzio Lazzarato, Ulus Baker, became the place where the first examples of video art in these lands have been produced. Examples of avandgard video activism have been produced in Ankara from the mid-1990s through collectives such as Videa, Vitopia, Karahaber, 25+...


LGBTI+ marches taking place every May 17th since 2008... 2010 Tekel Resistance... 2013 Gezi Resistance, METU-100. Yıl Highway Resistance, Mosque-Cemevi Construction Protest... 2014 Yatağan Workers, Van Workers... Protests of We Want Our Jobs Back of 2016... It has been the city of video activists who documents the protests visually, filling the gaps of social memory, the city of archive-based collectives such as, Artıkişler, Anarşiv, İmkansız Arşiv.


Even though it is not there yet, Ankara has been pursuing new possibilities to bring back the glorious days through its institutions and initiatives such as the Anatolian Museum of Civilizations, Erimtan Museum of Archaeology and Art, Evliyagil Museum of Contemporary Art, CerModern, Black and White Gallery, Galeri Nev, Torun, Kova Art Space, Ka Photography Workshops. This sincere concern is one of the major motivations of the Ankara Queer Art Program.


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