Türkçe | Français | English

Here is let­ter n°40 I just sent to Zehra. To avoid cen­sor­ship, it was writ­ten in Turk­ish of course, avoid­ing all words that might “offend” a cen­sor. The rea­son for pub­lish­ing it here also is that, with grow­ing inter­na­tion­al sup­port, we fear increased cen­sorhip against Zehra.Which, more than ever, must encour­age us to write to her, and make pub­lic the proof of our mailings…


My Zehra,

Yes­ter­day, I learned that some of your draw­ings were con­fis­cat­ed in Octo­ber. Don’t be sad. In fact, the most pre­cious part of your work, is when you think out, imag­ine, and invent tech­niques to get around the dif­fi­cul­ties. Even if they take your work away from you, this will belong to you for­ev­er. You pen­cil, your paint­brush, your strokes, your col­ors, your com­po­si­tions, your tech­niques evolve, Zehra… They go on matur­ing. Art isn’t sta­t­ic, on the con­trary, it changes, it evolves, it trans­forms itself, just as Life does.

Look at the work of artists over a life­time. Most of the time, they go through peri­ods. Work from each peri­od flows from a cre­ativ­i­ty find­ing fresh sources in dif­fer­ent areas of research and tech­niques. Each work builds up like a bridge toward anoth­er, and some­times, it opens the door to anoth­er peri­od. Noth­ing is lost. You know the prin­ci­ple in chem­istry: “Noth­ing dis­ap­pears, all is tranformed.” 

Don’t some artists choose the ephemer­al as a mode of expres­sion? Ice sculp­ture, sand draw­ings, bal­loons set loose in the sky, or allow­ing their com­po­si­tions to get blown away by the wind… This is maybe a way to defy time. In fact, in ephemer­al art, isn’t the tem­po­rary char­ac­ter an inte­gral part of the work?

Last night, I con­soled myself by inter­pret­ing your cur­rent artis­tic peri­od as a “long-term performance”.

Keep on hold­ing your pen­cil and search­ing for your red. In this way, short-lived works also become part of the sto­ry, like links in a lengthy per­for­mance. Espe­cial­ly if they are filled of  stun­ning strength, such as yours are. Out­side and inside, life flows. May you col­ors also con­tin­ue like a flood.

zehra dogan

Did you know your turmer­ic yel­low has arrived and set­tled in our gar­den? It only shows up every five or six years. An impor­tant part of the leaves stay on the branch­es when the wind spares the begin­ning of win­ter… Which is the case, this year. A stroll in the woods dur­ing a turmer­ic autumn is mag­i­cal. Espe­cial­ly if the sun shines through the leaves as if to say good­bye. Its rays pierce through branch­es dap­pled with yel­low like brush­strokes, in an explo­sion of intense gold­en light, as if the sun were ris­ing from the very trees.

This year, the trees await, arms open to the sky, with shim­mer­ing leaves. The ground is also cov­ered in a blond car­pet. But this morn­ing, the sun missed the ren­dez-vous and we did­n’t get to meet this flam­ing star. I would like to cap­ture it for you. See, this “peri­od” is also “ephemer­al”. Because if the sun does not prove gra­cious, in a few days all the tree leaves will fall to the ground.

The Vir­ginia creep­er that cov­ers the gar­den wall still holds a swarm of red leaves in its heart. But at the top, the branch­es cas­cad­ing down like water are all bare. A fresh sad­ness slow­ly spreads all around. The last cor­ners for the cats’ games of hide-and-seek are about to be all exposed. The gar­den is start­ing to take on its win­ter silhouette.

We haven’t raked up the leaves yet. We’re wait­ing for the earth­worms and the insects to feast and make the soil fer­tile. There’s no rush. There’s a full win­ter ahead of us. And that is also a kind of long-term performance…

After­ward, from the grass­es to the vines, from the dove to the ant, all the crea­tures will be reborn for a new “peri­od” filled with free colors…

I embrace you, with the nos­tal­gia of those beau­ti­ful days.


The for­est of November

All the arti­cles about Zehra Doğan :
(French, Turk­ish, Eng­lish, Kurdish)

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
 You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Naz Oke on EmailNaz Oke on FacebookNaz Oke on Youtube
Naz Oke
REDACTION | Journaliste 
Chat de gout­tière sans fron­tières. Jour­nal­isme à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mar­mara. Archi­tec­ture à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mimar Sinan, Istanbul.