Zehra Doğan's three-act project for the elimination of violence against women

On Nov. 25, the PAC Pavilion of Contemporary Art presents the first part of a three-act project by artist Zehra Doğan against violence against women.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, the PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea makes its voice heard against all forms of violence and discrimination and inaugurates a new collaboration with Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan.

Video documentation of the artist’s performance made on November 23, 2019 on the occasion of her first solo exhibition promoted by Fondazione Brescia Musei at the Santa Giulia Museum in Brescia will be broadcast on the PAC website for the entire day.

During the action, Zehra Doğan paints in front of more than two hundred people the portrait of Hevrin Khalaf, secretary-general of the Syrian Future Party, an activist for women’s rights and at the forefront of the recognition of the identity of the Kurdish people, who was killed on October 12, 2019 by Arab mercenary militias supporting the Turkish offensive. The newspaper pages used as support for the work are those from the days when news of the killing was released in the media.

The online initiative is the first part of a three-act project, curated by Elettra Stamboulis and realized in collaboration with Fondazione Brescia Musei, which will be completed by a Project Room by the artist at PAC from Dec. 18 to Feb. 14, and a new performance by her in February designed specifically for the Milan Pavilion.

A journalist, founder along with others of the first all-female news agency, visual artist and activist, Zehra Doğan (Diyarbakir, 1989) has ushered in a new focus on art that comes from behind the confines of bars, thanks in part to an artistic process that brings together listening to the other, feminist practice, sharing, use of extemporaneous material and instantaneousness of the gaze.

On Feb. 23, 2017, because of her work as a journalist in the field and in particular for a drawing and some articles written during the conflict in Nusaybin, she was sentenced to 2 years and 9 months in prison and detained in Amed Women’s Prison until her forced transfer to the maximum security prison in Tarsus. Appeals by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the international PEN club and Amnesty International for the artist’s release as a prisoner of opinion are in vain. In prison Zehra Dogan creates works with makeshift means, drawing and painting with discarded materials such as food scraps, coffee grounds, and using prison bath towel, cigarette tinfoil, and the few authorized letters as supports. Her works reach the outside world in an erratic way: she dresses them on herself and entrusts them to her visiting mother, who then delivers them to a chain of activists in contact with France, under the careful custody of a small network of people who are concerned with information from the Middle East area, particularly Turkey.

Released on February 24, 2019, she is the recipient of numerous awards and one of her installations is also exhibited at the Tate. Since March 2019, she has been resident in London, where she lives as an exile.

The project at PAC, The Time of Butterflies. Dedicated to Patria, Minerva, Teresa Mirabal is a tribute to Aida Patria Mercedes, Maria Argentina Minerva, and Antonia Maria Teresa Mirabal, the three sisters who fought the dictatorship (1930-1961) of Dominican Rafael Leónidas Trujillo under the name Las Mariposas (The Butterflies).

On November 25, 1960, Minerva and Teresa decided to visit their husbands imprisoned because of their political militancy in the anti-Trujillista resistance. Patria, the older sister, wants to accompany them even though her husband is locked up in another prison. The three women are ambushed by military intelligence agents, tortured and killed. Their brutal murder awakens popular outrage that leads in 1961 to Trujillo’s assassination and later to the end of the dictatorship. On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in their memory.

The project is part of the I talenti delle donne (Women’s Talents) program, promoted by the Culture Department of the City of Milan."I talenti delle donne " aims to make known to the general public how much, in the past and in the present, often in unfavorable conditions, women have been and are creators of original artistic expressiveness and social instances of change. It is thus intended to make visible the contributions that women over time have made in all aspects of collective life, starting with cultural life but also in science and business, to the progress of humanity.

Pictured is Zehra Doğan, In Memory of Hevrin Khalaf (2019; Brescia, Museo di Santa Giulia). Courtesy the artist and Museo di Santa Giulia.

Zehra Doğan's three-act project for the elimination of violence against women
Zehra Doğan's three-act project for the elimination of violence against women

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