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‘The word “obscene” has no place in the vocabulary of art. Art has no boundaries’ – Interview with Turkish artist Serkan Bayer

22 April 2020
Image: Censored art from “The Birth” series by Serkan Bayer / Courtesy of Serkan Bayer

 

February 2020: The Independent Art Foundation in The Hague revoked an invitation of Turkish artist Serkan Bayer to a Modern Turkish Art Exhibition on the grounds of the artwork being “too obscene,” reported Duvar English.

The curator of the Independent Art Foundation responsible for The Modern Turkish Art Exhibition, Ahmet Özel, informed the artist last minute that the foundation found his work to be obscene and that his paintings would not be transported to the Netherlands.

The Modern Turkish Art Exhibition is planned for 4 April – 27 April.

Image: Serkan Bayer / Courtesy of Serkan Bayer

 

Bayer’s artworks prepared for the exhibit had been posted to and approved by the Independent Art Foundation before a call from the curator.

“They didn’t see the artworks ‘in situ’. So, I sent them additional photos, shot in detail since my paintings can’t be captured by a camera. The censorship arrived at that point. Even though I delivered the paintings to the Foundation in closed boxes, they applied censorship on the basis of ‘obscenity’ of the pictures in detail,” Serkan Bayer told Freemuse.

Bayer worked on the creation of the artwork in question, “The Birth”, for two years.

Bayer commented on the censorship and the use of the word “obscene” in the argument for censoring his artwork.  

“The word ‘obscene’ has no place in the vocabulary of art. Art has no boundaries,” Bayer told Freemuse. “When the Turkish public reacted strongly against the incident of censorship, the Independent Art Foundation made a written statement. In the text, the Foundation depicted the sin that I committed as such: ‘An attitude hiding and changing the perception of the work was found out’.”

Bayer started to create art when he was 13, and the censorship of “The Birth” is the first one he experiences.

“My purpose is to reach the very essence of the human being and whatever related to him/her,” the artist told Freemuse. “In fact, the idea of reaching a balance can’t be a purpose. All we can talk about is hope. For hope to keep us going it is necessary to liberate our consciousness and mind. And the code of liberation in my view is hidden in the ultimate union of art and science.”

Freemuse’s annual report The State of Artistic Freedom 2020 reveals that indecency has been used as a rationale for censorship in 19% of documented censored artworks in 2019. Read the full report here

Artworks from “The Birth” series by Serkan Bayer:

Image: Courtesy of Serkan Bayer
Image: Courtesy of Serkan Bayer
Image: Courtesy of Serkan Bayer
Home / News / ‘The word “obscene” has no place in the vocabulary of art. Art has no boundaries’ – Interview with Turkish artist Serkan Bayer

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