While Roja­va in North­ern Syr­ia, the project close to her heart, is attacked from all sides, Zehra Doğan con­tin­ues tes­ti­fy­ing and denounc­ing through Art and writ­ing. She does so strong­ly, in sol­i­dar­i­ty, in Brescia.

Through wall art in Lon­don today, and exhi­bi­tions tomor­row in Paris and Italy soon fol­lowed by Ger­many, Zehra, the Kur­dish nomad, speaks about her peo­ple, women and their strug­gles. Here is a detailed view of the con­tent of the Bres­cia exhibitions.

Italiano | Français | English

Nous aurons aussi des jours meilleurs” – Zehra Doğan
(We will also know finer days)
Works from Turkish jails

By Elet­tra Stamboulis
San­ta Giu­lia Muse­um, Bres­cia, from Novem­ber 16 2019 to Jan­u­ary 6 2020
Vernissage: Fri­day Novem­ber 15 from 7 PM to 9 PM

The eyes I draw on my char­ac­ters are big­ger than nor­mal. They are extreme­ly large and dis­tend­ed. Because eyes are also the wit­ness­es of everything…Speaking is not enough, I know this already. It is the eyes of the char­ac­ters that say some­thing.” Zehra Doğan

For the first time in Italy and in the set­ting of the San­ta Giu­lia Muse­um, the town of Bres­cia and the Foun­da­tion of Bres­cia Muse­ums direct­ed by Ste­fano Karad­jov, will be pre­sent­ing an exhi­bi­tion of works by the Kur­dish artist and jour­nal­ist Zehra Doğan (Diyarbakır, Turkey, 1989).

We will also have fin­er days – Zehra Doğan – Works from Turk­ish jails” is an orig­i­nal project orga­nized by Elet­tra Stam­boulis and is the first exhi­bi­tion of crit­i­cal works ded­i­cat­ed to the work of the founder of the fem­i­nist Kur­dish news agency “JINHA”. It will be open to the pub­lic from Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 16 2019 to Jan­u­ary 6 2020. Fol­low­ing the huge suc­cess of the exhi­bi­tion held last May at the Tate Mod­ern in Lon­don – the city in which Zehra Doğan is tem­porar­i­ly liv­ing out her own exile – the artist is now in Bres­cia as the pro­tag­o­nist of a pow­er­ful exhi­bi­tion, in the set­ting of the Peace Fes­ti­val (Fes­ti­val del­la Pace, Bres­cia) orga­nized by the town and the province of Brescia.

This artist’s work inter­min­gles with her own his­to­ry and, inevitably, with dra­mat­ic polit­i­cal events in recent news. The exhi­bi­tion under­scores her poet­ry, touch­es on recur­rent top­ics and themes, throw­ing light on her dialec­ti­cal com­plex­i­ty and the extreme­ly wide choic­es of media and tech­niques used to pro­duce her works of art: unusu­al objects, extreme­ly frag­ile, but with a pow­er­ful expres­sion­is­tic charge.

The exhi­bi­tion orga­nized by Elet­tra Stam­boulis brings togeth­er some six­ty orig­i­nal works includ­ing draw­ings, paint­ings and mixed media works, run­ning through the artist’s entire deten­tion in the jails of Mardin, Diyarbakır and Tar­sus, where Zehra was jailed for two years, nine months and twen­ty-two days on accu­sa­tions of ter­ror­ist pro­ga­pan­da for hav­ing pub­lished on Twit­ter a water col­or based on a pho­to­graph tak­en by a Turk­ish sol­dier. This draw­ing showed the town of Nusay­bin destroyed by the nation­al army (note: Turk­ish) in June 2016, show­ing the raised and tri­umphant flags and the armored vehi­cles, trans­formed into scorpions.

To the images are added excerpts of the diary Zehra kept dur­ing her cap­tiv­i­ty. In her mus­ings, Zehra refers on sev­er­al occa­sions to artists who, through­out his­to­ry, expressed their oppo­si­tion with­out pay­ing the con­se­quences for it, at least appar­ent­ly, and oth­ers who refused to take sides.

The exhi­bi­tion ful­ly demon­strates the irre­press­ible need to cre­ate and to tell of oth­ers’ fate, and not of one’s own, through images and words. From pages tak­en from news­pa­pers to papers from packs of cig­a­rettes, from every­day cloth­ing to frag­ments of fab­ric, the works dis­play a large palette of tools and sup­plies, often con­di­tioned by the spe­cif­ic con­tin­gen­cies of her incar­cer­a­tion. All the ele­ments of dai­ly life feed her cre­ativ­i­ty: cof­fee, food, men­stru­al blood or, more tra­di­tion­al­ly, pas­tels or ink when they were avaliable.

The first sec­tion of the exhi­bi­tion is devot­ed to shapes gen­er­at­ed in an acci­den­tal way by the lay­er­ing of one mate­r­i­al over anoth­er, as they were cho­sen at a giv­en moment. From these shapes, the artists draws a sym­bol­ic imag­i­nary work, dom­i­nat­ed by human forms in which cer­tains fea­tures are empha­sized such as the eyes, the hands and fem­i­nine attributes.

The fem­i­nine image dom­i­nates her pro­duc­tion, be it indi­vid­ual or col­lec­tive and pro­vides the sec­ond sec­tion of this itin­er­ary. Activist, fem­i­nist, she is among the first jour­nal­ists to have col­lect­ed tes­ti­monies from Yazi­di women who had escaped from ISIS.

The heart of the exhi­bi­tion deals with a polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion with war scenes in which, once again, there is a pre­dom­i­nance of women, because of the need to win the first of all bat­tles, that against par­tri­archy. Through her own words the artists refers to Pablo Picas­so, the one of Guer­ni­ca that had elab­o­rat­ed a spe­cif­ic lan­guage in order to express despair; a fun­da­men­tal ref­er­ence in order to define the expres­sion of pain.

The exhi­bi­tion con­cludes with a few works cre­at­ed fol­low­ing her prison experience.

Zehra Doğan was lib­er­at­ed on Feb­ru­ary 24 2019. As a dis­si­dent artist, her sto­ry imme­di­ate­ly attract­ed inter­est and sol­i­dar­i­ty in the inter­na­tion­al art world, to such a point that Ai Wei wei sent her a per­son­al let­ter and, last year, Banksy ded­i­cat­ed to her one of the most prized walls in Man­hat­tan, the Bow­ery Wall with a work show­ing her behind bars, hold­ing her most pow­er­ful weapon: a pencil.

Through­out this peri­od, the artist has not ceased her artis­tic and jour­nal­is­tic activ­i­ties, pro­duc­ing her works with recu­per­at­ed mate­ri­als, work­ing with her co-detainees in cre­at­ing illus­tra­tions and in the fab­ri­ca­tion of a inter­nal news­pa­per describ­ing their detention.

The exhi­bi­tion “We will also know fine days – Zehra Doğan – Works from Turk­ish jails” is accom­pa­nied by a gen­er­ous pro­gram of activ­i­ties around the sub­jects for adults, for fam­i­lies and for schools, orga­nized by the Edu­ca­tion­al ser­vices of the Bres­cia Muse­um Foun­da­tion. Among these events, a meet­ing with the artist, open to the pub­lic, ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of Havrin Kha­laf, planned for Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 23 at 4 PM.

The exhi­bi­tion was made pos­si­ble thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion of the web­magazine Kedis­tan (”The Land of the Cats” in Turk­ish) respon­si­ble over the past few years for the super­vi­sion of the sal­vaging and trans­porta­tion of Zehra Doğan’s works out of Turkey, and which also han­dles the artist’s archives, along with Asso­ci­a­tion Mira­da, a part­ner to this project.

For their sup­port to this project, spe­cial thanks are extend­ed to Abra­cadabra Coop­er­a­tive Social, to the Asso­ci­a­tion of Bres­cia Cooks, to Stra­da del Vino Coli dei Lon­go­b­ar­di who will con­tribute to the buf­fet at the vernissage which is open to all.

Practical information

Contacts: PCM Studio di Paola C. Manfredi Via Farini 70 /20159 Milano
press@paolamanfredi.com / T. +39 02 87 28 65 820
High resolution images here
Title: “Nous aurons aussi des jours meilleurs – Zehra Doğan – Œuvres des prisons turques” by Elettra Stamboulis
Dates: November 16 2019 – January 6 2020
Venue: Museo di Santa Giulia, Via Musei 81/b – 25121 Brescia (Italia)
Vernissage: Friday November 15 at 7 PM.
Conference center: di Santa Giulia, Pia Piamarta 4 – Brescia
Pre-opening for the media: Friday November 15 at 11:30
Schedules: Tuesday-Friday/ 9 AM – 5 PM/ Saturday, Sunday, public holiday: 9 AM‑6 PM. Closed on non-holiday Mondays.
Info: tel 030 2977833)834/ mail. santagiulia@bresciamusei.com/web. www.bresciamusei.com
Admittace: From November 16 to 30 during the Peace Festival: Free admittance
From December 1st 2019 to January 6 2020: 5€ (full fare) / 4€ (from 14 to 18 years and over 65, students, groups of 10 to 30 people) / 3€ (schools, from 6 to 13 years of age, groups of 10 university students minimum / 5 (schools with pedagogical activities) / For guided tours and workshops/activities for adults: price of entry ticket + contribution to the activity/ Free for minors less than 6 years old, for group accompanists, for two teachers per class group, for the handicapped >75% for members of Musei Lombardia Milano, and for accredited tourist guides.


By the Edu­ca­tion­al Ser­vices of the Foun­da­tion for the Muse­ums of Brescia.

✔ Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 23 at 4 PM.

Spe­cial meet­ing with Zehra Doǧan!
A meet­ing with the artist, open to the pub­lic, ded­i­cat­ed to the mem­o­ry of Havrin Khalaf.
Free admit­tance, (sub­ject to availability)reservation required: CUP 030.2977833–834; santagiulia@bresciamusei.com

Workshops for adults and families :

✔ Sat­ur­days at 4 PM

Sat­ur­day Decem­ber 21 and Jan­u­ary 4 : THE POWER OF COLORS
Work­shop for adults: Col­ors in Zehra Doğan’s work are not ran­dom or sim­ply well matched to one anoth­er but they refer to the uses made of them for cen­turies in a num­ber of Kur­dish rit­u­als, beliefs and tra­di­tions. How­ev­er they are cov­ered over by a black cloak, a cloak that is both dark and frag­ile: one must make an effort to erase it and bring back the full pow­er of col­ors. An inti­mate work­shop, full of sym­bol­ism in order to expe­ri­ence and think of freedom.

Sat­ur­day Novem­ber 30 and Decem­ber 14: IN A BLOTCH… A WORLD
A work­shop for fam­i­lies with chil­dren from ages 5 to 8: the work­shop will cov­er a tech­nique used by Zehra dur­ing her time in Tar­sus prison: with no sup­plies with which to paint, she was able to give life to sur­pris­ing works express­ing strong and mixed emo­tions. Blotch­es seen not as dirt, but as a means to access an image, by a mys­te­ri­ous road along which one meets sur­pris­ing and unex­pect­ed figures.

Sat­ur­day Decem­ber 7 and Decem­ber 28: EMOTIONS IN THE NEWS
Work­shop for fam­i­lies with chil­dren ages 9 to 12: The dai­ly news­pa­pers pro­vide us with local and inter­na­tion­al news. We react to the news by express­ing opin­ions and impres­sions that often stay at the lev­el of words. UBased on a prac­tice often used by Zehra Doğan, we will trace direct­ly on news­pa­pers images, signs and oth­er texts to pro­vide our per­son­al answers to the facts report­ed by the journalists.

Sun­day Decem­ber 15, 10–1 PM and 2–4 PM
Tosio Mar­ti­nen­go Pina­cotheck. On the occa­sion of the Zehra Doğan Exhi­bi­tion: SEWING WORDS
Wor­shop with Cristi­na Mencarelli
As a trib­ute to Kur­dish artist Zehra Doğan whose works are exhib­it­ed at the San­ta Giu­lia Muse­um, this work­shop will com­bine artis­tic ges­tures with the pow­er of evo­ca­tion in words. Since Antiq­ui­ty, sewing and embroi­dery are two actions which are tied to the fem­i­nine world and shared between women, key ele­ments in Zehra Dogan’s cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal life. The word becomes a means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion trans­form­ing the fab­ric on which it is embroi­dered. Write in embroi­dery in order to say who you are and to tell your story.

Dura­tion: vis­it 1h – Work group 1h30 – Work­shop 5 h / Cost of vis­it and work group: price of admis­sion+ 4€ / Cost of work­shop: 45€ / Reser­va­tions: Cen­tro Preno­tazioni 030.2977833–834 santagiulia@bresciamusei.com / All activ­i­ties require a min­i­mum of 10 participants.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
*A word to English-speaking readers: in all instances where the original text is in Turkish or Kurdish, the English version is derived from French translations. Inevitably, some shift in meaning occurs with each translation. Hopefully, the intent of the original is preserved in all cases. While an ideal situation would call for a direct translation from the original, access to information remains our main objective in this exercise and, we hope, makes more sense than would a translation provided by AI…
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