AFTER THE EVENT by Begüm Özden Fırat y Zeyno Pekünlü

Museo Reina Sofía, Open presentation Thursday 16th, January 2020 19:00, Workshop Friday 17th, January 2020 20:00, full program below

After the event focuses on the afterlife of the recent cycle of revolts initiated in late 2010. Wherever they have emerged- Turkey to Spain, from Greece to Syria and Egypt- these movements shook the existing political systems and sometimes toppled them down, yet they proved to be not powerful enough to subvert the political establishment as a whole.

As of today it seems most of these movements are in crisis or in temporary set back. They are unable to rely on familiar political forms such as ways of organizing, language of protest and repertoires of action. 

Today is the time of the counter-revolution; it is a genuine thermidor. And as Daniel Bensaïd (2001) states, every “recurrence of Thermidor has always bolted the door of possibility whenever it has been opened just a fraction.” As that door of possibility is being closed, a sense of defeat is spreading. An emergent yet familiar “structure of feeling” is shaping up: melancholia and political depression, the feeling of an impasse, the inability to start something new. After the event proposes to discuss that historical experience unraveled by the event by paying attention to movements and struggles preceding it and the manifold ways in which the event survived – i.e. its afterlife.

After the event focuses onthe remembrance and archives of these cycle of revolts: How do we remember those moments of political contestation from the perspective of the present? Would images help us rethink the emancipatory potentials of the revolutionary tide that swept the whole world? How can we re-think this endless data, and how can these archives be re-shaped/remixed in a way that they reveal something otherwise amiss, something not represented? 

Begüm Özden Fırat, will discuss the political and social composition of the 2010-2013 cycle of contention by focusing on the iconic images of the period that came to represent this recent global movement against neoliberal capitalist world order in her presentation titled Drones and Streets: Iconic Images of the Tahrir and Gezi Occupations. The aim of the discussion is not to unveil the unnoticed details in these iconic images that would bring about the truth of the uprisings. It is to focus on iconic images that testify to the re-emergence of the crowd in contemporary politics and denote certain characteristics of these uprisings. In this presentation Fırat will compare and contrast two main points of view, namely the drone and street-level perspectives, from which the crowd has been portrayed.  

Zeyno Pekünlü, in her presentation titled Archiving for Future Strategies aims to open up a modest discussion about strategies of remembrance by way of works that have set out from archives of movements and uprisings in Turkey. Although every single second of these revolts were documented and recorded many times over, from various different angles, and have left behind massive heaps of data; by the subjects who have made them happen, they are often described to be ‘unrepresentable’. Even though the anonymous and collective knowledge produced in extraordinary conditions is extremely impressive and important, what would be the best way to examine these archives–apart from the present ‘free sharing, free access, free use’ and the strategies of exposure that are at work–in order to bind past experiences with future dreams, and to enhance the strength of the subjects? 

The participants of the workshop are encouraged to bring and share one (and possibly more) image that is considered an iconic or an ephemeral image, a well known representation or misrepresentation of your movement. We would also like to discuss those experiences regarding to archiving images of uprisings and movements. Please bring your questions with you. Following a short presentation of the project the examples will be collectively discussed following the main problematics of the After the Event workshop.

Begüm Özden Fırat is currently a faculty member at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of Sociology. She studied urban and cultural sociology, visual culture, and culture and social movements. She is an editor of the books entitled Commitment and Complicity in Cultural Theory and Practice (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2009), Cultural Activism: Practices, Dilemmas, Possibilities (Rodopi, 2011) and Resistance and Aesthetics in the Age of Global Rebellion (Küresel Ayaklanmalar Çağında Direniş ve Estetik, 2015, İletişim). Her book entitled Encounters with the Ottoman Miniature: Contemporary Readings of an Imperial Art was published in 2015 by I.B. Tauris.

Zeyno Pekünlü is an artist based in Istanbul. She obtained her M.A. from University of Barcelona and her Ph.D. from Mimar Sinan University. She is currently running the Work and Research Program of the Istanbul Biennial (ÇAP) for young artists and researchers. Comprising a wide spectrum of material from the National Anthem to Turkish melodramas, from cheet sheets to Youtube videos, Pekünlü’s works traverse public and private manifestations of various forms of subordination, and problematize the technologies of power.

AFTER THE EVENT by Begüm Özden Fırat y Zeyno Pekünlü, in the framework of Museo Reina Sofía’s activities program, is organised by the Institute of Radical Imagination, Museo Reina Sofía, L’Internationale and supported by EU Program Europa creativa