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Zehra Doğan is cur­rent­ly in Kur­dis­tan and vis­i­bly, resourc­ing there. The fol­low­ing images show the pow­er­ful cre­ative ener­gy ani­mat­ing her on “her lands” as she likes say­ing and writing.

Sur­round­ed by artists in her own mold, by women who pre­cise­ly “on these lands” are ani­mat­ed by a will to strug­gle that the Kurds describe under the term jine­ol­o­gy, she par­tic­i­pates in debates, renews links, exchanges and creates.

Every day becomes a day for cre­ation in the open sky work­shop of Kurdistan.

She was invit­ed by the Kur­dol­o­gy Cen­ter of Sulay­maniyah in order to debate on Art and wom­en’s expres­sion. This same cen­ter allowed her to real­ize an artis­tic per­for­mance, orga­nized by the Jine­ol­o­gy Research Cen­tre, in the premis­es Cul­ture Fac­to­ry — Karge Kul­tur, for­mer­ly the cig­a­rette fac­to­ry of Souley­manieh, which lent itself well to it.

Dur­ing and after the screen­ing of a short film she real­ized these past few weeks, a short on “the mur­der of women” that gives its full mean­ing to the artis­tic per­for­mance, she used her hair, her entire body, in order to paint with rage a large scale can­vas on which she had pre­vi­ous­ly made drawings.

Filmed in the Sulay­maniyah ceme­tery, the film’s con­cept is as follows:

The earth’s mourning

A huge ceme­tery in the heart of Sulay­maniyah, a large city of two mil­lion res­i­dents: the Sai­wn cemetery…

There are thou­sands of tombs here. In this space dec­o­rat­ed with flow­ers stand intri­cate ste­lae that almost remind one of a forest.

In one cor­ner of this huge ceme­tery, one zone is desert­ed, arid and gloomy and draws atten­tion for this rea­son. Unlike the oth­ers, this part is of a macabre steril­i­ty. This con­trast give the feel­ing that the world after death can also be paved with dis­crim­i­na­to­ry stones. As if this earth, silence and grey, was in mourning.

The sight of this piece of land where close to two thou­sand remains are buried, as if thrown side to side ran­dom­ly, hel­ter-skel­ter, sad­dens the heart. The iden­ti­ty of the per­sons buried here, in this space both solemn and sin­is­ter, is unknown. These tombs, each the size of a small child’s cas­ket and which are spread out in a dis­or­der­ly way, belong to mur­dered women. Some tomb­stones car­ry num­bers. A few rare ones are col­ored, as if paint­ed lat­er or secret­ly by a close one in order to find it again. Most of them car­ry no sign what­so­ev­er. But they all share one thing in com­mon: none of the stones bear the name of the deceased.

Rauf the ceme­tery guard is the one who knows this place best. “Some of them, I buried with my own hands. Some were found mur­dered on the street, the bod­ies of oth­ers wait­ed for months at a morgue. All of them women, none of them iden­ti­fied,” he says. There are also tombs that belong to women who were buried at night by their murderer…

This ceme­tery is in Sulay­maniyah but there are oth­ers also in Hewler and in sev­er­al oth­er towns in Irak. And author­i­ties in Irak and in South­ern Kur­dis­tan have no reac­tions to this situation…

Zehra Doğan

The artis­tic per­for­mance that accom­pa­nies and com­pletes it was thus named by Zehra “the earth­’s mourning”.

It is a denun­ci­a­tion of unpun­ished feminicides.

Meet­ing up with Zehra Doğan will be pos­si­ble in many ways dur­ing the first trimester of 2021. In Ger­many, Berlin’s Maxime Gor­ki The­ater will hold an impor­tant exhib­it main­ly of prison works and the orig­i­nals of a graph­ic nov­el cre­at­ed clan­des­tine­ly, and already pre­sent­ed at the XIth Bien­ni­al. Milan’s Con­tem­po­rary Art Muse­um will take up the major part of what was exhib­it­ed over a long peri­od in 2020 in Bres­ci­a’s Muse­um.

The graph­ic nov­el itself, titled “Prison n° 5” after the gaol of Diyarbakır (Amed) will be pub­lished by Edi­tions Del­court in the weeks that will follow.

The “prison writ­ings” Nous aurons aus­si de beaux jours, pub­lished in French by Edi­tions des Femmes are still avail­able in book­stores and will also be avail­able short­ly in an Ital­ian version.

Zehra Doğan tire­less­ly con­tin­ues plac­ing her noto­ri­ety and her Art at the dis­pos­al of the Kur­dish strug­gle with her main pow­er­ful con­tri­bu­tions going to wom­en’s strug­gles. She can­not con­ceive of her free­dom otherwise…


  • Zehra Doğan

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