This article focuses on the contemporary visual art practices by Kurdish female artists as strategies of counter-memory. The Kurdish community in Turkey has been facing ongoing violence, with its (cultural) heritage, memory, and archives constantly under threat. In this article, I use the archaeological metaphors of “ruins” and “ruination” by Ann Laura Stoler to examine the destruction, and discuss a selection of contemporary artworks by Kurdish women artists who represent such forces of destruction symbolically to build a counter-archive. Consulting research from other disciplines to explain the colonial dynamics in the region, I trace the decolonial feminist discourse within the Kurdish women’s movement. Finally, I explain how the female body and the city are recurrent themes in these artworks to challenge the colonialist, heteronormative, and nationalistic paradigms. Such artistic expressions of ruination, I argue, animate politics, disturb common sense, and mobilize counter-memory, one that is decolonial and feminist.
Ruins, Ruination, and Counter-Memory in Kurdish Women’s Art
Asli Özgen is Assistant Professor Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, teaching at the undergraduate level as well as in the MA in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image. Her doctoral research, conducted at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, explored the aesthetics and politics of cinematic pedestrianism. Her current research focuses on the precarious film heritage of ethnicized, racialized, and migrant communities. She studies film historiography, particularly feminist and decolonial interventions. Özgen is an internationally accredited film critic and a regular contributor to magazines and festivals.
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Asli Özgen; Ruins, Ruination, and Counter-Memory in Kurdish Women’s Art. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2022; 8 (1): 16–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2022.8.1.16
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