Photo: Kurdish YPG Fighters, YPJ. Uploaded on October 6, 2014. FLICKR: Kurdishstruggle, YPG Album, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0). Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kurdishstruggle/albums/.
Censorship of the exhibition “War and the WWW”
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM, entrance hall
26 June 2017 – 20 August 2017
Following an intervention by the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Slovenia on Friday, 12 May 2017, the photo exhibition War and the WWW: Kurds in Syria and Networking Websites at the EPEKA Gallery in Maribor was closed prematurely after having been open only a week. The early closure of the exhibition was an act of inadmissible censorship and open and deliberate pressure of an undemocratic, authoritarian regime on the freedom of expression and artistic creation. The artists Jan Babnik, Iza Pevec and Uroš Abram are exhibiting selected articles about the censorship from the internet and the press.
About the censored exhibition (general description of the exhibition)
By definition, realism is committed to faithful description of reality, and documentary to creative treatment of actuality. Notwithstanding the fact that war of images is inherent in all warfare it is the intensity of contemporary imagery of war that has nowadays virtually been taken to extremes. Social networking websites have radically modified the old representational paradigms. To an increasing extent, contemporary conflicts are becoming wars of representation – and, unlike the former ones, these are ostensibly self-generated, initiated in a “grass’ roots” way, by the participants themselves. The countless blogs, YouTube channels, Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram archives yield a series of visual icons, symbols, topoi – an online “landscape” of war with which both – its creators and beholders – relate to one way or another.
The War and the WWW project features online representations of war, more specifically, of the current war in Syria and the Kurdish factions involved in the conflict. In compiling the materials, the exhibition curators’ main search words were Rojava, YPG, YPJ and PYD – words denoting the Kurdish region and the acronyms of major Kurdish political and military factions in Syria. The project emerged from unbounded online linking and gathering, merging and integration of information. The exhibition focuses mostly on the content generated by representatives of Kurdish factions in Syria and posted on social networking websites and official websites.
More than the faithful representation and accurate depiction of reality the visual content posted on web-based networks strives towards faithful adherence to ideological and political convictions and, ultimately, war goals. Thereby, the realism of these images is intrinsically creative – aimed at a specific community and audience. And as such it can be declared explicitly documentary. The project centres on the small, overlooked visual stories generated by means of photography, video, symbols and diagrams. It is an endeavour towards gaining an insight into and representing the current political situation and warfare in a corner of the world that has recently been dominating media coverage. And doing that by examining the online visual archives. It is precisely the intrinsic unpredictability of the medium of photography that the project has benefited from – there’s something about the photographic image that reveals both more and less than intended by a photographer, there’s something about a photograph that speaks both about what is shown as well as what is withheld. An exhibit about individuals, history, authenticity, the realism of image at the time of ubiquitous social networking websites, War and the WWW aims to direct attention to individuals entangled in “history” – in the current maelstrom of political struggles and war – and their (in)capacity to relate their stories.