There, all is order and beauty,
Lux­u­ry, peace and pleasure.

These are the words that res­onate in the famous French poet­’s so famil­iar Invi­ta­tion to the Voy­age. Mean­while, Zehra Doğan’s works trav­el with­out an invitation.

What could be more obvi­ous for Zehra than know­ing that her works are free while she works at for­get­ting the walls of the jail in which she resists, along with her co-detainees?

In June 2017, pri­or to her incar­cer­a­tion, she invit­ed her own works to trav­el, texts and pic­tures both, like an exten­sion into a free zone of the strug­gle she is pur­su­ing as a pris­on­er at the mer­cy of a dis­cre­tionary pow­er in Turkey.

She is for­bid­den to paint or to draw with the required mate­ri­als? No mat­ter, she draws and paints with what­ev­er she can put her hands on, and pass­es on her exper­tise around her.

She is for­bid­den to prac­tice jour­nal­ism? No mat­ter, she writes, tells of the prison uni­verse, and doc­u­ments the lives of her co-detainees.

She is for­bid­den to be her­self? No mat­ter, she will remain Zehra, woman, Kur­dish, artist and jour­nal­ist, autonomous in the com­mune of the wom­en’s quar­ters reserved to polit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Amed’s high-secu­ri­ty prison.

There, all is noth­ing but resis­tance and community,
Light, women and will. 

I may be over­do­ing it here, I will draw down the ire of the jar­gon restric­tors who will slash at my oh-so unpo­lit­i­cal speech. Come on, give us some ’Erdoğan mur­der­ous dic­ta­tor’, damn it! What is this sirupy petit-bour­geois speechi­fy­ing about confinement? 

Prison walls do not col­lapse under the weight of ide­o­log­i­cal speech. If they did, we would know about it. Pre­tend­ing I have the pow­er to open wide the gates and cut down the barbed wire through the rhetoric of a polit­i­cal dis­course just isn’t my thing. Faced with crushed human flesh, I find it use­ful to speak with human words, as long as I keep on hand answers to ques­tions that will inevitably arise…

As are oth­er hostages of the Ruk­ish regime, pris­on­ers it finds embar­rass­ing,  Zehra Doğan is in prison since June 2017  for 2 years, 9 months and 22 days. Some have longer, some have short­er ver­dicts… Men, women, there  are tens of thou­sands of them held hostage, just as oth­ers are kept impris­onned by pre­car­i­ous­ness, exclu­sion or fear —  hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­er oppo­nents out­side the prison walls.

This real­i­ty can­not set­tle for a list of well thought-out sig­na­tures by polit­i­cal per­son­al­i­ties or pseu­do cor­po­ratist sup­port­ers work­ing on their self-promotion…So if you think I’m moved by denun­ci­a­tion-type jar­gon, I have news for you!

Zehra has entrust­ed her works to trav­els on walls.

Here they are, also tak­ing refuge in a book that will  trav­el from book­shops and shelves, await­ing the future  while speak­ing of a recent past to those who will open it.

Here they are also, brav­ing a rainy win­ter in Brit­tany, hang­ing on stone walls, under the watch­ful eyes of Kor­ri­g­ans. The wide open eyes are misty, dur­ing their vis­it in Mor­laix coun­try, in Ploue­zoc’h. Tears of anger or of impo­tence, who knows…

Read also: Zehra Doğan s’expose en Bretagne en janvier

They will move on to the shores of Maine, in Angers, through all of Jan­u­ary, as they will accom­pa­ny film pro­jec­tions, else­where in the South of France.

Read also: Zehra Doğan s’expose aussi à Angers en janvier

Angers, Tour Saint Aubin, le 11 janvier 2018

Zehra trav­els.

And in the rare moments when silence takes over in the jails, she can think of her draw­ings, her chil­dren dis­play­ing their wide open eyes in Europe. And she knows that they upset, raise ques­tions, some­times unset­tle but also make answers eas­i­er to formulate.

Humans have no need of speech­es and pos­tur­ing that so often serve as pre­ludes to oppres­sion. But they hear and respond to intel­li­gi­ble words, no mat­ter the lan­guage in which they are spoken.

I chal­lenge any­one to look straight into the “eyes wide open” and not won­der “why”, “how”…Remem­ber the poster “why?” that opened up so many minds to an under­stand­ing of the war in Indochi­na, way back when…

The next legs of the trip are in progress. Sur­round­ing the exhi­bi­tion of her works, there will be talk of jour­nal­ism, women, oppres­sion, polit­i­cal analy­ses of Turkey and Kur­dis­tan, and…the future and Roja­va. A leg in the jour­ney where she will have much to say, so col­lec­tive are her words.

My child, my sister,
Think of the necessity
Of our going there to sup­port her together! !

Français : Le voy­age de Zehra Doğan, au-delà des murs Cliquez pour lire
Español: El via­je de Zehra Dogan, al otro lado del muro Haga clic para leer

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…