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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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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.