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Istanbul Gallery Cancels Exhibition, Citing Political Tension in Turkey

The nonprofit cultural center Akbank Sanat in Istanbul has canceled an upcoming exhibition that was due to open March 2 at their space, citing ongoing political tensions in Turkey, according to Dorian Batycka at Hyperallergic. The show was to be titled “Post-Peace,” and was curated by the fourth winner of the gallery’s annual international curator competition, Russian curator Katia Krupennikova.

Akbank Sanat’s reasons for pulling the plug were stated as thus: “…over the course of our preparations, Turkey went through a very troubled time. In particular, the tragic incidents in Ankara are very fresh in people’s memories. Turkey is still reeling from their emotional aftershocks and remains in a period of mourning. In accordance with Akbank Sanat’s sense of responsibility in the Turkish contemporary art world and following various considerations regarding the delicate situation in Turkey, the exhibition has been canceled.”

Krupennikova disagrees however, and sees the gallery’s decision as an act of censorship. “I, along with the artists in the show, believe this to be a case of political censorship…I fully recognize the tense political atmosphere in Turkey right now, and the reasons why Akbank Sanat may not wish to be associated with the exhibition. But this is also why it is essential to have open discussions and a place for people to engage with different perspectives on issues relevant in the Turkish context and beyond.” The show was to include the artists the Stateless Immigrants, Ella de Búrca, Anna Dasović, Yazan Khalili, Adrian Melis, Dorian de Rijk, belit sağ, Alexei Taruts, Anika Schwarzlose, and Anastasia Yarovenko; the writers Oxana Timofeeva, Ece Temelkuran, and Etel Adnan; and public programming participants Yaşar Adanali, Pınar Öğrenci, Koken Ergun, and Jaha Koo.