MisplacedWomen?

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Mis(s)placed Women? — Istanbul Itinerary

In Istanbul, Workshops on June 1, 2022 at 5:34 pm

A Review of the Tanja Ostojić’s Performance Art Workshop in the Public Spaces

By Performistanbul

Do you know the powerful and satisfying feeling you have after protesting in a public space and collectively claiming your rights out & loud? This is how Tanja Ostojić’s workshop made us all feel. We were re-discovering the strength of gathering and expressing oneself (both bodily and orally) as well as the power of public spaces through performance art; a fluid, non conformist, unique practice.

As a performance art platform we are constantly and passionately working on liveness, but this project felt like life itself.  

From the beginning till the end, it has been a great challenge for the participants but also for the coordination and documentation team. How to coordinate a group of women and queers moving, acting/performing freely in the streets of the city in a country/culture where social gatherings and public protests are banned/prohibited? How to document a series of public performances as they are created and developed organically at the moment it is happening? 

The Open Call

The journey started with an open call. Participants of all backgrounds and genders that can commit to participate for the entire duration of the workshop were invited to apply. After we received around 40 applications, along with Performistanbul’s team (Simge Burhanoğlu, Azra İşmen, Ayda Bayram), Tanja Ostojić meticulously analysed each application. The selection was the key-point. The process during which we discovered each applicant’s personal stories was very emotional and at moments moving to tiers.

Nine powerful women and queer persons (Nazlı Durak, Gizem Yılmaz, Selma Hekim, Persefoni Myrtsou, Vanessa Ponte, Sabbi Senior, Bahar Seki, Arzu Yayıntaş, Gülhatun Yıldırım — unknown to each other), who were experiencing/dealing with issues of migration, marginalisation, displacement, empowerment, feminism and queerness were selected regardless of their experience in the field or in any other field of art.   

The First Part

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 – Performistanbul Building – Galata

The first part of the workshop included getting together, informing and communicating, whereby the participants were invited to exchange with each other about individual experiences and the aims of the project. As the public performances as well as the whole workshop process had to be documented by a professional photograph and video team (Burçin Aktan, Gülbin Eriş, Kayhan Kaygusuz, Gün Üçok), the recordings started from the first meeting moment.

At the beginning of the first day of the workshop, the artist and the participants gathered in Performistanbul’s building’s garden situated in Galata, one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Istanbul. This first meeting was a start to get to know each other by discovering the unique paths of each participant. Ostojić started by creating a human circle before getting to the exercises. During the session, they raised their voices, moved their bodies, discussed the endless definitions of performance art/performing, their backgrounds and the reason why they applied to be a part of this experience and the relation they had with the public space. Before getting to the creative and artistic part, Ostojić was already setting up the tone of the workshop as the whole experience was about freeing the mind — freeing the voice — freeing the body while developing trust, promoting sensibility, supporting, sharing and caring of the other “without leaving anyone behind” (with Ostojić’s own words) . 

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul. September 2021. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

Ostojić’s unique style favoured the building of trust relations with the participants and created a unity. Her human based practice is transferred naturally through her guidance, confidence, sense of freedom and undeniably strong presence. Providing/building a secure space for all the participants, as soon as  they started to feel safe and confident, it was finally time to take to the streets of Istanbul and start the second part of the workshop. Participants selected three itineraries/neighbourhoods for each day of the workshop; Beyoğlu, Nişantaşı, Kadıköy.

From the first day, Ostojić formed the love circle and brought the whole group together. Every person became each other’s sibling, a supporter and a carer to each other starting from day one. A strong group hug was made before leaving the building. The hug made us feel united like we were preparing for the battle we were about to have on the streets.

Protest Scarves Against Turkey’s Retreat from the Istanbul Convention, 2021. İstiklal Street, Istanbul, 07 09 2021. a collective performance action realised in the framework of Mis(s)placed Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić, with the  participation of: Arzu Yayıntaş, Bahar Seki, Gülhatun Yıldırım, Gizem Yılmaz, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Vanessa Ponte, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim and Tanja Ostojić. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

The Second Part 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 – Beyoğlu

During the second part, the participants were encouraged and supported to enact live performances and interventions in the streets, parks and stations of Istanbul. 

Thus, the second part of the workshop started on the second half of the first day. On a sunny late summer afternoon, a group of women, accompanied by our team and the documentation crew started their walk to join the İstiklâl (Independence) Street. It was the September 7, marking the anniversary of the anti-Greek pogrom; a series of state-sponsored mob attacks directed primarily at Istanbul’s Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. Dealing with issues such as displacement, misplacement and migration, the historical event affected the spirit of the first collective performance. While going up through the street of Bostan, where the old German High School is located, all the participants started walking backwards inspired by and referring to Gülhatun Yıldırım’s (one of the participants) performance Just Like the Past (Istiklal Street, public/video performance, 2015). Sharing one action as a group has always a uniting and strengthening effect on both its members and spectators. This is how performances followed one after another till the end of the workshop.  

As the group reached Istiklâl Street, a symbolic space for social movements, female and queer bodies walking backwards turned into making up a statement, it became a protest action given that it is forbidden to gather and demonstrate in Istiklâl Street since Gezi Protests (2013).

Protest Scarves Against Turkey’s Retreat from the Istanbul Convention, 2021, İstiklal Street, Istanbul, 07 09 2021. a collective performance action realised in the framework of Mis(s)placed Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić, with the  participation of: Arzu Yayıntaş, Bahar Seki, Gülhatun Yıldırım, Gizem Yılmaz, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Vanessa Ponte, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim and Tanja Ostojić. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

Arzu Yayıntaş, one of the participants, grabbed a scarf and started waving it with the wind. Other participants followed her by using their own scarves or borrowed some of Persefoni Myrtsou’s grandmother’s unused dowry that she brought with her and shared with others during the whole workshop as performance props. Arriving in front of the banner displayed on the Istanbul Bar Association Building, on which we could read in Turkish: “The Istanbul Convention saves lives”, all the participants stopped and continued waving various beautiful colourful fabrics that became flags and expressed themselves on Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention. They have created a kind of huge “tableau vivant” that drew the attention of the public. Some of the crowd just stopped to contemplate the group and some of them started imitating their reverse walk. This is when we had to face the first police interruption and our first warning. After three distinct patrols checked all the papers and filming permits that we had, and then two other patrols interrupted the walk, we were informed that we could not walk and film through İstiklâl Street and that we could only continue our “activities and actions” in the backstreets. As Performistanbul team, our main role has been to be dealing constantly with authorities, so that the performance and documentation process were the least affected. It has been made quite clear that we had to re-think our relation to public spaces and the right we have to make use of it; What is a public space? What is/isn’t allowed in public spaces? Who/which groups are tolerated to gather in public spaces?… Those questions would only keep repeating in our minds till the end of the workshop process.

This is how the whole group decided to settle and occupy a space in a traditional street “tea house”, located in Mis Street, mostly populated by men. All the group started exploring Persefoni Myrtsou’s dowry and spreading it. Each participant selected a piece and started transforming it with embroidery while Myrtsou was preparing Turkish coffee for fortune telling. The performance established a safe bubble transforming the space into a place dedicated to womanhood as well as queer-hood. The female presence and aesthetics took over the place. Some of the passers by took a break and watched the amusing and meditative imagery created by the group asking questions about what was happening. It was the end of the first day.

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, a collective performance in tee house, Mis Street (2021), with the  participation of: Arzu Yayıntaş, Bahar Seki, Gülhatun Yıldırım, Gizem Yılmaz, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Vanessa Ponte, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim and Tanja Ostojić. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021-Nişantaşı

On the second day of the workshop, all the participants gathered in front of the Teşvikiye Mosque. The first meeting to plan the day was made in the Mosque’s garden. After a conversation about what happened the previous day, Ostojić and the participants started discussing the progression of the day, making different propositions and already setting a frame for the upcoming performances. “To be present for the other, listening and communicating. Unity, trust, empowerment, devotion, sincerity” were the main keywords that would lead the workshop. 

Before reaching the square in Kadırgalar street [a posh street of Istanbul surrounded by luxury brands and cafes], the performance space for the day that the participants selected together, Arzu Yayıntaş made a proposition for the first collective performance of the day. Most of the participants were randomly complimenting and catcalling men that they came across during the walk. Selma Hekim contributed to the walk with the uncommon sound of her traditional erbane/daf, also known in Syrian, Arab, Kurdish, Armenian and Persian communities; women played this instrument as they believed it to be a cure for fear and diseases. Living in a patriarchal society, the confusing behaviour of the performers mostly produced positive reactions in the public, setting a smile on the faces of audiences. Even though women experience the catcalling act as a form of aggression, men seemed to be quite pleased with the attention they received and sometimes even shocked by this unexpected behaviour. The performance was repeated multiple times while the group was walking.

Since the first day, each participant brought some performance props with them. It was time to start exploring the props both individually and collectively. Once the group reached the performance space, various group and solo performances started to pop up. Bahar Seki grabbed her dry shampoo bottle and started performing by making continuous and repetitive movements with her whole body along with Selma Hekim’s playing erbane. 

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, a performance by Bahar Seki (2021) Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

Nazlı Durak, Gizem Yılmaz, Vanessa Ponte, Arzu Yayıntaş, Selma Hekim and Persefoni Myrtsou started performing simultaneously. Some of the individual performances connected with each other creating a collective performance while some others differed with each other. Persefoni Myrtsou performed while being blindfolded one of the “Mis(s)placed Women?” project scores: “unpacking and repacking” a bag in the public space. The rest of the group started unpacking and interacting with their props and each other. Arzu Yayıntaş explored objects associated with womanhood by society. Combining many clothing objects and wearing them in an unusual way while moving her body in a displeasing eccentric way in opposition to what is expected from womanhood. Meanwhile, Vanessa Ponte and Gizem Yılmaz, were displaying beautifying actions such as putting on makeup and dressing up in the most absurd ways accentuated by repetitive movements. Next to this duo, Nazlı Durak was exploring Yayıntaş’ props. Dressing up herself with princess costumes for children, she tries to fit into society with a new unexpected identity. During the whole session Selma Hekim accompanied the group by playing erbane. 

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, a performance by Arzu Yayıntaş (2021) Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

After the lunch break, the next stop was the Teşvikiye Mosque. We had legitimate concerns about performing at a mosque courtyard in Turkey. Yet, Ostojić was sure of herself with each step of the process. If it comes to that, we could maybe get warned, or kicked out but she insisted on defending our right to use this public space. Tanja always encouraged us by moving forward with a fighting and protesting spirit, an inclusive dominant identity of a female, independent of geography and culture. Due to our concerns about us being from Istanbul and people’s traditional values, we were able to move forward with Tanja’s leadership and the safe space Ostojić provided for us.

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, a performance by Gülhatun Yıldırım (2021) Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić

Gülhatun Yıldırım performed next to an empty fountain pool at the Mosque’s garden. Sitting by the fountain, Yıldırım placed dozens of ice cubes on her lap and stood still, enduring the burning pain of ice for approximately two hours, until the last ice cube melted and leaked into the empty pool. As a performance artist, water and its various forms is part of Yıldırım’s practice. She is in constant research of her body limits while searching new ways of interacting with water. The ephemerality and the transformative effect of the material referring to the issues of forced nomadism, migration and displaced communities, attracted the artist, so this is how this durational piece has been created. 

After a while, the group left Yıldırım’s performance to continue their journey. But she was not on her own, one camera person and a member of the production team stayed with her until the end of the performance. Nobody was left alone during the whole workshop. 

For the second part of the day, Ostojić invited participants to rethink about their performance and to reperform some of the performances as they needed to be deepened and to be worked on.

In the wake of individual and collective re-performances, Myrtsou continued working with her grandmother’s dowry, displaying all its content, sharing it with other participants. Then she started hanging the dowery pieces on one side of the square with the help of some of the participants. While Myrtsou finished unpacking, Nazlı Durak installed herself comfortably in her luggage creating a safe and cozy space. After building herself a spinose crown made of knitting needles and yarn with the help of Selma Hekim she started to give herself to a domestic female activity; knitting. Her work brought up questions in mind such as “Where is home? What is home? Can any place turn into a home? How does it feel to be forced to quit home?”. 

Reconsidering the recent police attack to the queer picnic organised in Maçka Park — which was very close to the square — Gizem Yılmaz and Sabbi Senior wanted to revive a surreal queer picnic scenery. They went exploring the construction site next to the square in order to bring together some props for their “Queer Breakfast” piece. A gasoline bottle, cement, stones became snacks and treats. Enjoying cheerfully that nonsensical breakfast that slowly transformed into a queer playing house for adults. The message was simple; to draw attention to the innocence of their act.

Close to Myrtsou, Arzu Yayıntaş and a passerby that joined her began embroidery activities. Simultaneously, another embroidery performance session started with Tanja Ostojić and Bahar Seki on the opposite side of the square. Later on, Persefoni Myrtsou and Selma Hekim joined the duo. 

Embroidery became like a uniting therapeutic closing ritual of the day.

Collective performance actions realised at the Teşvikiye Square, Istanbul, 08 09 2021. in the framework of Mis(s)placed Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić, with the  participation of: Bahar Seki, Gizem Yılmaz, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim and Tanja Ostojić. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

The whole square turned into an installation in which various performances popped up. Knitting, embroidering, beautifying, cooking, playing house — all the performances were related to traditional feminine activities mainly destined to be practiced indoors, however the act of displaying those activities outdoor in a public space and deviating from its essential aim became a feminist/queer statement itself.

During the performances at this location we only have been interrupted once by a policeman that politely asked us to leave as we found it at the ending time of the workshop. We had different types/groups of audience. Some of them were only passersby who stared at the scenery very briefly while some of them stayed and watched the performances. Many questions were raised and comments were shared as they were trying to relate the performances to the actuality trying to analyse it according to their background. And this is how the second day came to an end.

Thursday, September 9, 2021-Kadıköy

On the third day of the workshop that comprised public interventions, the whole group met in front of the Kadıköy Ferryboat Docks. The day started with the “Holding the Mis(s)placed Women? Sign” score. The first score was performed by Vanessa Ponte, they arrived at the meeting point already holding their sign and placed themselves next to the Kadıköy Ferryboat Docks with the historical Haydarpaşa Railway Station and the Bosphorus view in the background. They were holding a sign on which they wrote “Misplaced Human/Misplaced Woman”, standing still with her red hoodie, worn backwards, covering her face. It was a very strong image. Knowing that there is a human inside that body without being able to identify anything about it had a strong effect on the audience. Many passersby stopped by to watch. Sabbi Senior joined Ponte with her own sign on which we could read “MIS(S)PLACED WYMYN”. With a very feminine wear (a crop top and mini skirt), they stand still next to Ponte. Next to them, Persefoni Myrtsou and Gülhatun Yıldırım who have just prepared their own signs in Turkish joined the performance. Many asked why only “women”, they suggested that it should also  include men. 

Score #2: Holding the “Mis(s)placed Women?” Sign, performed by Sabbi Senior, Vanessa Ponte, Persefoni Myrtsou and Gülhatun Yıldırım, Kadıköy Port, “Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, (2021). Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

15-20 minutes after Ponte started performing, a police patrol came to interrupt both the filming and the performance and took one of Performistanbul’s team members with them to start an interrogation about “what was happening”. A dozen police officers gathered in a prefabricated cabin and they started preparing a police statement informing the team member about the illegal nature of the activities that the participants have been doing in public space. We were not allowed to show and film people holding signs in public space, one policeman qualified the performance as a terrorist act. After a long negotiation, they let us go without a fine but we had to stop the performances and move immediately to another location. We have been literally chased away from the meeting spot and we were forbidden to resume the performances unless we get extra permission documents from the prefecture and the district police department of Kadıköy. While the participants and some of the coordination and documentation team continued their walk inside the small streets of Kadıköy, Performistanbul’s staff and the camera woman went to collect new permissions documents. It took almost two hours to gather all the documents —that were not necessary— and come back to the performance location. Meanwhile, after the group left, two undercover policemen started to follow the group. The two policemen stayed with the group until the end of the day, they also documented the performances and reported what was going on to the police station. Sometimes they gave warnings to the coordination team about what can/can’t be done in public spaces (without directly interrupting the workshop) and also asked many questions about the project, the performances as well as the discipline itself.

The group was led to the small streets of Kadıköy Bazaar. After walking for a while, they gathered in circle at the small square in front of Surp Takavor Armenian Church where numerous security cameras were installed and started performing some warming-up exercises. Soon, policemen warned the group that they have to move to another location. It was time for lunch, until the group got to the restaurant, they started performing with their voice. Words were forbidden but screaming was not. Therefore, the group of ten women and queers raised their voice together through the small streets of Kadıköy. The magical moment happened when senior people started hitting some objects with their canes to support the “protest” actions of the group.

After the lunch break, the group moved to Bahariye Street in front of the Süreyya Opera. Vanessa Ponte proposed a performance referring to the oppression of the queer community in Istanbul  tackling the male gaze. Along with Sabbi, Nazlı and Gizem, Vanessa started to tie up their hands and legs. Then the music started and they started to dance depicting the struggles of a queer body in public space while freeing it and celebrating its existence.

A collective performance with the  participation of: Nazlı Durak, Sabbi Senior, Gizem Yılmaz and Vanessa Ponte, 2021. Realised in the framework of Mis(s)placed Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Süreyya Opera House, Istanbul, 09.09.2021. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić

Following this performance Ponte continued proposing; they also included Persefoni Myrtsou and Arzu Yayıntaş. Ponte’s body was tied up and pulled in different directions while they were trying to put make up on their queer face wearing a purple moustache. The absurdity and struggle caused by the action was expressing both the oppression and vulnerability of the queer body.

Selma Hekim took over the performance space. Her performance was about “leaving traces” dealing with issues such as immigration, the sense of belonging, the kinship between past and present, as well as the need to leave a legacy. She lied on the floor and asked Sabbi Senior, Arzu Yayıntaş, Vanessa Ponte and Persefoni Myrtsou to draw the outline of her body on the floor. Each time the group started drawing, Hekim continuously moved her body until the floor was covered by multicolour lines. 

A performance by Selma Hekim with the  participation of: Arzu Yayıntaş, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim and Vanessa Ponte, realised in the framework of Mis(s)placed Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić, Süreyya Opera House, Istanbul, 09 09 2021. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

The group moved to Kadıköy Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop, where Persefoni Myrtsou presented her solo performance. She started by unpacking her grandmother’s dowry that she carried in her suitcase during the entire workshop since the day one. It was not a simple luggage, with all the different sorts of dowry, it also contained memories of her grandmother and community as well as their migration story and past history. It was time to fully engage with them and confront what was embedded in them. Myrtsou started covering herself with each piece of dowry. With the help of Ostojić, passing by women and other participants, she covered her whole body creating a bridal gown made of dozens of dowry pieces. Then she started distributing the rest of the dowry to the passersby. The dowry would continue to live in different lives, being part of different stories. Somehow Myrtsou found a way to communicate and reconcile with her past through her grandmother’s untouched dowry and share it with others. We could hear her soft sobs through the multiple  layers of textiles. At the same moment it started raining, it was like the sky was empathising with her trying to carry away her sadness. It was a visually and contently very strong piece that deeply touched each of us. At the end all the participants gave a huge hug to Myrtsou and helped her get out of this “heavy” dress.

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, Doily Monster-Bride, a performance by Persefoni Myrtsou. (2021) Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

Just before the workshop ended, Gizem Yılmaz  sat down on the street next to a sign on which she wrote “Poor Artist”. Covering her face with a veil, she randomly started playing an ukulele while singing a ridiculous song about the situation of the “poor woman artist”. Nazlı Durak joined the performance spontaneously, accompanying Gizem with her absurd dance. Looking like a mixture of beggars and/or extravagant boheme street artists, they tried to depict humorously the situation and struggles of the artists in our current society. It was the end of intense three days long performance interventions on the street.

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul, a performance by Gizem Yılmaz and Nazlı Durak (2021) Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

The Third Part 

Saturday, September 24, 2021-Beykoz Kundura Cinema

Next time the entire group gathered was at Beykoz Kundura Cinema, to watch together the first edit of the documentary movie depicting the workshop, to discuss and present the outcomes to the public. All participants of the workshop were invited to take active part in the presentation and the following discussion led by Tanja Ostojić. Each participant discussed their experience analysing it thoroughly with comments of Ostojić and other participants.

The whole workshop was a (re)discovery of what is/isn’t/can be performance art. Through her inclusive and pedagogical practice, Tanja Ostojić gave to the nine distinct participants the opportunity to discover, create, explore and develop a performative practice. By providing a safe space (even though in the public spaces) and continuous support, Ostojić encouraged both self-expression, public presence, collective creation and community building. It was a huge experience full of emotions for all the participants as well as the documentation and coordination team. 

We were on the edge the entire time on the streets. It felt like we were on a battlefield. A battle we were already having every day.  A war, we have against the difficult conditions of being a woman/a queer in Turkey, and for the performance art practice we produce and try to protect. It was a very inspiring and empowering experience for us Performistanbul as well. Thanks to Ostojić, we were finally able to come out to the streets and make our voices heard as we always wanted and needed.

“Mis(s)placed Women?” workshop, Istanbul. Persefoni Myrtsou, Ayda Bayram, Azra İşmen, Simge Burhanoğlu, Arzu Yayıntaş, Nazlı Durak, Selma Hekim, Tanja Ostojić, Gülhatun Yıldırım, Sabbi Senior, Vanessa Ponte, Gizem Yılmaz, September 2021. Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz. Copyright: Tanja Ostojić.

We were not direct participants… yet, to be with the participants at all times, to be the meeting bridge in order to make their voices heard made us part of the workshop and community as facilitators. Making public performances possible, supporting the participants and the artist during the process, to ensure the smooth running of Ostojić’s workshop was actually Performistanbul’s performance. Ostojić’s sharp, determined, confident nature became her guide. At the same time, her humble approach, loving embracing and openness to each idea created a space that encouraged free expression and communication. Such a unique and one of a kind experience was created that just like the particles colliding with each other in the creation of the universe, the participants grew and propagated by listening and reading each other, interacting, communicating…

Many of the interventions were not completely understood by the diverse audiences, but that did not matter, as it was not a show but a display of an expressive stance. Performance was not present as an academic discipline and it was not essential. As Performistanbul, since our establishment we approached performance art as a communication tool to bring people together, to vibrate and to heal collectively and it also has been Ostojić’s way to connect with the participants and the public. We prioritised our natural needs over the technical ones. This openness of heart and transparency led us to live art rather than producing it. We were present at that moment, fully feeling its liveliness. 

We are grateful, thankful for all the participants and Tanja Ostojić for revealing and sharing  their unique  identities, memories, experiences, and sorrows with us. We would like to sincerely thank Ostojić  for making us a part of this long adventurous journey that led us to a discovery of ourselves, of performing in public spaces and producing a collective/participative creation. 

Now remembering our strength as women, we feel together, and we know that we have each other.

By staying a collective, staying whole, we continue transforming and keep transforming…

The Writing Part as a Post Scriptum:

At the end of the second part of the workshop (performances on the street) all participants, including the coordination team, have received Ostojiić’s instructions on how to write reviews and short texts including reflections about our experience of the workshop. First drafts of the texts were due before the screening and the round table at Beykoz Kundura so that participants could prepare for the public presentation. Those short texts and essays are in the process of editing by Tanja Ostojiić in order to be gradually published on the project blog.

This review has been written a half a year after the workshop took place and includes a chronological description and brief analysis of all performances and the workshop’s process as a whole, comprising reflections on Tanja Ostojiić’s practice and our own experience as a performance art platform that coordinated the project. 

Besides digging in our memories, we went through the 90-minutes-long documentary video about the workshop process, the notes that we have gathered in September as well as all the reflections shared by the participants. The reflections were a crucial part of the workshop in which each participant shared and analysed their own experiences of both the performance(s) they realised as well as the one(s) they witnessed. In our review, we tried to include as much as possible their approach in respect of their intentions and analysis, to avoid misinterpretations and confusions which may sometimes compromise the main motives of creation. The participants’ perspectives and intentions can not be extricable from the analysis. Thus, we would like to acknowledge and thank all the participants who indirectly contributed to the creation of this review, especially Persefoni Myrtsou who wrote an extremely meticulous and detailed reflective essay on the whole workshop process.

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Review written by: Azra İşmen & Simge Burhanoğlu, Performistanbul

Edited and first published on the MIS(S)PLACE WOMEN? blogue by Tanja Ostojić on June 1, 2022. (Anniversary of the beginning of the Gezi-Park-Protests  June 1, 2013.)

Updated with the Post Scriptum on June 8, 2022.

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Workshop led by Tanja Ostojić

With the group and individual performances by: 

Arzu Yayıntaş, Bahar Seki, Gülhatun Yıldırım, Gizem Yılmaz, Nazlı Durak, Persefoni Myrtsou, Sabbi Senior, Selma Hekim, Vanessa Ponte and Tanja Ostojić.

Documentation Team

Gülbin Eriş – Camera, Video Editing, Gün Üçok – Camera Assistant, Burçin Aktan – Sound Operator and Kayhan Kaygusuz – Photographer

Performistanbul Team 

Azra İşmen & Simge Burhanoğlu – Organisers and Ayda Bayram – Coordinator

Cultural Academy Tarabya

Çiğdem İkiışık – Program Coordinator 

The Mis(s)placed Women? production in cooperation with Cultural Academy Tarabya and Performistanbul in the frame of Ostojić’s four-months-long residence in Cultural Academy Tarabya (June-September 2022).

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Save the dates: 

June 18, 2022, Istanbul premier of the ‘Mis(s)placed Women? Istanbul’ 68 min documentary by Tanja Ostojić: Mis(s)placed Women? Performance Art Workshop by Tanja Ostojić(2021-22), at the Tarabya Summer Festival, Istanbul.

The video documents collective and individual performances, reflections and the process of the Mis(s)placed Women? workshop realised over four days in several neighbourhoods of Istanbul during September 2021. The workshop uses principles of Art as Social Practice that on one side explores a variety of public spaces and the possibilities for temporary interventions in them, and on the other, empowers participants via a Master-class-like block seminar, a laboratory outside of an educational institution. Istanbul itinerary of the   project (ongoing since 2009) was marked by massive police presence, appreciative responses from the people on the street, and the participants who were amazingly supportive of each other, highly motivated to engage in the collaborative work and in agency to work with the issues of displacement, feminism, queer issues and the public space.

September 15, 2022, ‘Mis(s)placed Women?’ Project retrospective, exhibition opening at DEPO Istanbul

September 20-24, 2022, ‘Mis(s)placed Women?’ International community gathering in Istanbul and live events at DEPO and outside

Please visit the related posts and links:

Mis(s)placed Women? (2009-2022) About the project

Open Call for Participants: Tanja Ostojić’s Mis(s)placed Women? Performance Workshop in the Public Spaces of Istanbul

Tanja OSTOJIĆ: Score #1: Unpacking a Bag of Your Own2009

Tanja OSTOJIĆ: Score #2: Holding the Misplaced Women? Sign, 2012

Misplaced Women? Video Channel

Performistanbul

Tarabya Cultural Academy/ Kulturakademie Tarabya/ Tarabya Kültür Akademisi 

The Press coverage of the Istanbul Workshop:

Interview:

Unlimitedrag interview with Tanja Ostojic by Aise Draz,

Announcements:

https://www.unlimitedrag.com/post/mis-s-placed-women-atolyesi-icin-acik-cagri

https://www.disonans.com/post/performistanbul-dan-açık-çağrı-tanja-ostojić-mis-s-placed-women-atölyesi

https://kaosgl.org/haber/tanja-ostojic-in-mis-s-placed-women-performans-atolyesi-istanbul-sokaklarinda

Sanattanbihabervar Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CSuChKtAe9g/

Cumhuriyet – Printed Publications:

https://www.artfulliving.com.tr/gundem/tanja-ostojiin-missplaced-women-atolyesi-istanbulda-i-23787

https://www.artdogistanbul.com/en/tumu/guncel_sanat/ostojicin-atolyesi-istanbul-sokaklarina-geliyor.htm

https://bantmag.com/tanja-ostojicin-missplaced-woman-performans-atolyesi-7-9-eylulde/

çokiyiişler – Instagram Story https://www.instagram.com/p/CS_mbpCASKa/

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Tanja Ostojić was a recipient of the Cultural Academy Tarabya, Istanbul, Fellowship in 2021 and is currently a recipient of the Stiftung Kunstfonds NEUSTART KULTUR Stipend for the contemporary visual arts in 2022.

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