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Zehra Doğan has been award­ed a new prize. This year, Artis­si­ma (Ital­ian Con­tem­po­rary Art Fes­ti­val) and Fon­dazione Sar­di per l’Arte have pro­mot­ed a new prize ded­i­cat­ed to the artist “Car­ol Rama”, a prize to be attrib­uted to “an artist who embod­ies, through research and work, the ideals of uncon­ven­tion­al fem­i­nine cre­ativ­i­ty and artis­tic free­dom that Car­ol Rama rep­re­sent­ed and trans­mit­ted through her works and her per­son­al­i­ty”.

Car­ol Rama lived and worked in Turin in the 40s until her death in 2015, gath­er­ing many artists and per­son­al­i­ties around her­self. This artist’s cre­ative inde­pen­dence which always defied clas­si­fi­ca­tions and fem­i­nine stereo­types only gained inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion in the ear­ly years of 2000. Yet, Car­ol Rama’s work extend­ed over a sev­en­ty-year peri­od, from 1936 to 2005, dur­ing which time the artist occu­pied the same stu­dio, on via Napi­one in Turin.

For Zehra, this prize award­ed for her Art is a recog­ni­tion of the artis­tic free­dom she has put at the ser­vice of wom­en’s strug­gles, beyond her per­son­al his­to­ry linked to her impris­on­ment. Her brush strokes, the strength she dis­plays, the treat­ment she gives to bod­ies in her work, the free use of mate­ri­als and com­pos­ite pig­ments (learned and mas­tered in prison) thus res­onate with Car­ol Rama’s work.

Over the past five years, Zehra Doğan will have been acknowl­edged through a num­ber of prizes, as a jour­nal­ist, as a free thinker, as an artist sen­tenced for her free­dom of expression.

Exhib­it­ed in Europe dur­ing her years in prison, her “escaped” works obtained the sup­port and atten­tion of artists such as Banksy and Ai Wei­wei, to men­tion only those two, and that of a wide and numer­ous pub­lic audi­ence for whom the Kur­dish cause was often unknown before that time. PEN Inter­na­tion­al and a num­ber of asso­ci­a­tions called for her lib­er­a­tion and spread infor­ma­tion about her sit­u­a­tion. This sol­i­dar­i­ty to which Kedis­tan, its read­ers, and an entire team of friends also wide­ly con­tributed, gave Zehra the sup­port need­ed for her to spread her word and her art for the Kur­dish cause and that of women, fol­low­ing her lib­er­a­tion in 2018.

But Zehra Doğan’s sin­gu­lar per­son­al­i­ty and strength did all the rest: numer­ous exhi­bi­tions in France, in Ger­many, in Italy in Bres­cia, and Milano, in the Unit­ed-States, films, per­for­mances at major events helped to spread word of the Kur­dish cause through her, beyond activist cir­cles. Zehra does not self-define as a polit­i­cal activist but as a politi­cized jour­nal­ist and artist, a woman who fights with­out concessions.

Be it in her work, in her prison let­ters pub­lished in French by Edi­tions des Femmes (and soon avail­able in oth­er lan­guages) through her graph­ic nov­el tales of prison life (exhib­it­ed in the Berlin Bien­ni­al), to be pub­lished ear­ly 2021 by Edi­tions Del­court, she archives, describes and makes known the fate of the Kurds, her birth peo­ple, and the fate the Turk­ish States reserves in par­tic­u­lar for women who rise up against it.

For the sec­ond time Zehra was able to hold an exhi­bi­tion in Turkey. The first was in Kur­dis­tan, furtive­ly, between two impris­on­ments and this sec­ond time in Istan­bul in Octo­ber.

There’s no need to hide the fact that Zehra is a dear friend of Kedis­tan and our admi­ra­tion and sol­i­dar­i­ty with her strug­gles are that much greater that we are direct­ly involved in them. Which is why we invite one and all to cel­e­brate this new prize she was just awarded.

Oth­er exhi­bi­tions are in the works, oth­er meet­ings also, oth­er actions and per­for­mances, inas­much as the “shut-down” caused by the pan­dem­ic will allow in 2021.

And we take advan­tage of this arti­cle in order to con­vey, yet again, Zehra’s laugh­ter and tears, her utopia and her anger that move things for­ward, to all those who, since 2015 have con­tributed to build­ing a bridge toward the future through their direct con­tri­bu­tions, their friend­ship, their net­works, and their noto­ri­ety. They are too numer­ous to mention. | Face­book fan page | on Insta­gram | on Tweet­er
Spe­cial archives on Kedis­tan | on Wikipé­dia

Pho­togra­phie: Zehra Doğan by Eren Karakuş, 2020.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.