This essay was started during the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in June 2013 and has been presented as a Master Lecture at the Centre for Fine Art Research (CFAR) at Birmingham City University. The talk was chaired by Professor Johnny Golding, director of CFAR, and provided me with the opportunity to order and formalize some of my thinking on the relationship between contemporary politics and the fine arts. It was also a moment to reflect on a very eventful year in which I continued to acknowledge that reflections on contemporary issues cannot be separated, in my opinion, from personal approaches and philosophical underpinnings.
BEWARE OF CUTTING DOWN TREES: CONTEMPORARY POLITICS AND AESTHETICS BETWEEN IDEAL MATRIARCHAL DEMOCRACY AND REAL PATRIARCHAL DICTATORSHIPS
The mediated representations of contemporary protests have increasingly ignored larger thematic and cultural sources of discontent that could be directly connected with money, ideology and class benefits. The mediated focus has been on attempting to present these movements of protest as disconnected and fragmented by painting a picture of disharmonious movements promoting ‘inexplicable causes’ that appear wildly illusory to rational minds: like preserving a way of life, defending landscapes or protecting trees. These are the ‘ridiculed causes’ that, in the contemporary post-society media spin cycle, are pitted against logical interpretations of society in economical terms, old political/ideological frameworks and classist/corporative identities. Nevertheless these logical interpretations are increasingly perceived by large strata of society as devoid of any other criteria of evaluation of human life, society and nature that is not ‘hard cash.’
The essay will analyze, using as a starting point the protests of Gezi Park in Istanbul, the contemporary struggles in quantifying in economical terms the value of a tree and will propose a socially politicized matriarchal interpretation of trees, nature and society as opposed to the short-term economical evaluations of benign patriarchal dictatorships.
Through a fine art / media analysis of trees and contemporary rebellious art, the essay will question the role of art in contemporary post-capitalistic and post-societal frameworks.
The Great Mediterranean Mother, matriarchalism, patriarchalism, Bachofen, trees, animism, public space, revolt
Trees and Democracy
Desertification for Modernization
If Squawks Like a Dictator…