Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Sculptor Mehmet Aksoy may have scored a victory earlier this year, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was fined about $3,800 for calling his unfinished “Monument to Humanity” a “monstrosity,” but now the artist is facing 56 months in prison for insulting the leader. According to the AFP, prosecutors claim Aksoy insinuated that Erdoğan’s and his closest associates’ earnings were illegal when, in response to a question about how he’d spend the $3,800, the artist said: “I would never make a sculpture with dirty money.” The artist denies that the statement was intended to imply any wrongdoing on the president’s part.
“Throughout my professional career I have sculpted nearly 10 tons of stone. What I do is very labour-intensive,” Aksoy said in his defense. “My words were not meant to insult the president. I meant that this money just fell in my lap and was not money earned through the sweat of your brow.”
Though the dispute between the artist and president is bound up in their public statements, it also stems from Erdoğan’s persistent denial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Aksoy’s monument was commissioned in 2009 by Naif Alibeyoglu, who at the time was the mayor of Kars, a city in far eastern Turkey near the Armenian border. The 115-foot-tall work was intended to symbolize friendship between Turks and Armenians, with one of the towering figures extending an open hand toward Armenia. The project was dealt a fatal blow when Erdoğan visited Kars in 2011.
“They put a monstrosity there, next to the tomb of (scholar) Hasan Harakani,” the president said at the time, referring to an 11th-century shrine near Aksoy’s monument. “It is impossible to think that such a thing should exist next to a true work of art.” Following those comments the municipality, no longer under the direction of Alibeyoglu, rushed to demolish the monument. Though Aksoy would eventually succeed in having Erdoğan fined for publicly insulting him, he has not been able to get the work rebuilt and now risks over four and a half years in prison.
This week, LA’s new Academy Museum, the intersections of anti-Blackness and anti-fatness, a largely unknown 19th century Black theater in NYC, sign language interpreters, and more.
Titian’s paintings are masterpieces, with all the complications of the term.
Through “Historic Site,” an 8-foot-tall plaque and Historic Sight, a year-long rotating exhibition in Pittsburgh, the Black Cube Fellows investigate how history is constructed, remembered, and retold.
Lawson’s images, and the ways that she has discussed her process, seem to be actively reproducing the kind of big-dick energy power dynamics of White male artists who also claim mastery over their subject matter.
Jenkins’s new short film, the centerpiece of a MoMI exhibit on The Underground Railroad, uses his signature techniques to confront the viewer.
Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright memorializes Chicago’s Garrick Theatre and Buffalo’s Larkin Building, which were razed to build a parking lot and a truck stop.