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It has been a while since we have devoted an article to Zehra Doğan, a dear friend close to our hearts at Kedistan. The last one dates back to October 2021, precisely.

At that time, we were informing you of a kit of 20 reproductions of her graphic book, Prison N° 5, published by Delcourt in the French edition and by Becco Giallo, in the Italian one. (No English version to date, should a publisher be interested, please contact Kedistan.) These two versions are still available in all bookstores and on the web, and the kit has circulated in several venues. Should you be interested, associations, libraries etc, you will find further information on the Kedistan website.

For the travellers among you, the Prometeo gallery in Milan is currently exhibiting the originals along with large works directly inspired by them. The installation, along with other works, will be on show there until March. For collectors, know that the Prometeo Gallery exhibits and sells works by Zehra Doğan on a permanent basis.

This graphic book, you will recall, was built out of drawings that ’escaped’ from prison, one after the other over a two-year period, done on the reverse side of letters written on wrapping paper. It retraces both Zehra’s imprisonment, that of her companions in the struggle, the history of Kurdish resistance and the past of this sinister gaol of Amed, where allegations of torture are ongoing.

Prior to this latest exhibition, the originals had already been exhibited at the Berlin Biennial, followed by a “prison retrospective”, in Berlin again, at the Marxim Gorki center. They will be on show again in various European museums during the year 2022. We will keep you informed.

In 2021, Zehra Doğan participated in collective exhibitions and staged performances in Souleimaniye, Istanbul, Rimini, Turin, Milan and Zurich, placing the Kurdish cause at the forefront every time, that of women, and denouncing oppression, the “surveillance society” and “incarceration”, or the aged-old oppression by patriarchy.  She does not resort to a militant “speech” but gives a performance or an artistic work that touches much deeper and raises awareness. Zehra disturbs and forces one to take a further step, through a process involving a new work, every time.

There is nothing incidental about her being included for a second consecutive year among the top 100 artists that matter in Contemporary Art.

But you may rest assured that she has not changed for all that and remains the young journalist and artist we already knew in 2015.

On the other hand, what has changed is her free nomadism between Kurdistan and Europe. Although it is still impossible for her to put a foot inside Turkey even if her works were exhibited in Istanbul in 2021, by friends who took that risk.

Zehra Doğan currently resides in Berlin, following London, even though she is often sollicited in Italy, in Iraki Kurdistan or in other European cities. And since we at Kedistan are still managing much of her agenda, you will continue to be the first informed.

Two new arrivals in bookstores in February: German and Italian translations of the prison letters “Nous aurons aussi de beaux jours“, published initially in France by Editions des Femmes. For Italy Avremo anche noi dei bei giorni is published by Fandango (publication date: February 10 2022) and the German Wir werden auch schöne Tage sehen at Spector Books (in February 2022.)

As mentioned above, publishers are welcome to contact us for an English translation.

Other exhibitions are being finalized in Europe. Moreover, Zehra has re-connected with her trade as a journalist, while still pursuing a hundred new ideas every day.

More than ever, she is mobilized against the exactions committed against her people. You can follow her on Facebook or on Twitter, if you are a subscriber to social networks.

Should you be a reader of this article discovering Zehra today, we can only invite you to visit your bookstore and to take a look at her website. You will understand why she matters so much, both to understand the “Kurdish cause” and to reconcile yourself with Contemporary Art that produces meaning, when it steps outside the fashionable and consensual  ‘chic’ world of the ‘market’.

Voilà, for those who know Zehra and follow her, know that she is well and sends you her greetings.

Headline photo: Portrait by Şemzin Şin, 2022 Kurdistan.

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Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges
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