Turkey Shows the Venice Biennale and the World that Resistance is Not Futile

Ali Kazma , video still from “Resistance” 2013

Ali Kazma, video still from “Resistance” 2013

Something is happening in Turkey. The uprising reportedly began with a protest for demolishing a public park for a shopping mall. Unfortunately, the protesters were met with brute force from Turkish police. At this time, hundreds of official injuries have been reported and according to one report a few deaths have yet to be recognized as official.

The protesters of the destruction of Gezi Park have compared it to replacing Central Park with the likes of a Super WalMart. But, it is not just the park that is bringing thousands of young people into the streets, clearly there is more happening here. Recent Turkish policies have compromised the role of free press, banned late night drinking (past 10pm) and even public displays of affection or more specifically public kissing. All of which bring into question the sense of personal agency, a long time debate that is not limited to the people of Turkey.

In a not so far away land, the video work of Turkish artist Ali Kazma amplifies the beliefs held about the body, control, and our social environment at 55th Venice Biennale.

In his video series entitled “Resistance”, Ali Kazma explores the interventions and strategies that both release the body from its own restrictions and restrict it in order to control it. As an extensive survey on the contemporary discourses, techniques and management tactics developed for the human body, “Resistance” is an attempt to unravel the interventions imposed and practised on the body today. The series promises to expand over time in order to venture further into the infinite scope of knowledge that counts the body as its source—both as a real and restricted image, and as a field of infinite possibilities.

The work presented by Kazma at Biennale evolves from his other series “Obstruction” and “Today”.

In which he observed the human effort to hold together a world that inclines towards disintegration and destruction; the diversity of physical production developed to achieve this ‘unity’; and what such production might mean within the context of human nature.

Comparatively, the images from Gezi Park, masses of bodies moving in conflict and yet in unified front, exemplify how the world is being shaped, redefined, resisted and questioned by the masses of whom are demanding to be seen and heard. Although seen as one group, one movement in a unified attempt to protect a park, preserve collective rights, or end social injustices; the question remains that is it not also an attempt push the power over one’s body back to an individual authority?

While Kazma’s work focuses on the construction and altering of the body as landscape it also supports the innate human desire to resist the limitations placed upon our bodies, whether it be by nature or society.

The relationship between “being a body” and “having a body”2; and the tension that emerges within the infinite possibilities and borders of the body as a field of information, control and performance are explored under a range of diverse definitions and perceptions such as ‘material body’, ‘social body’, ‘body under surveillance’, ‘disciplined body’, ‘body at work’, and ‘the sexual body’.

To learn more about Ali Kazma at the Venice Biennale click here.

Collette McGruder