Yaşar Anter / Muğla, Oct 12 () - The 2nd International Bodrum Biennial continues in the western province of Muğla’s Bodrum resort around the theme of “Tolerance,” although the works by U.S. painter Deborah Semel Demirtaş were not shown much tolerance, in the artist’s words.
Demirtaş’s works, depicting various dimensions of Turkish social life with eight female mockups, four of which were headscarved, was removed five hours after the exhibit’s opening at a local museum.
The mockups were placed in the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum as part of the biennial on Oct. 2 but were removed by museum officials despite Demirtaş’s objections and sent to the artist’s atelier in a truck.
Demirtaş, who has been living in Bodrum for 10 years, said, “I brought my works to the museum for the exhibition at 10:30 a.m. An official also watched me placing my works. She said there was no problem. Meanwhile, tourists visiting the museum liked my work and took photos. The same official called me at 12:30 p.m. and said the text of the work was not approved, asking me to remove the work. I was shocked when I heard that I did not have permission for the exhibition. The biennial organizers got all permissions from the ministry months ago. The date of the exhibition was organized long time ago. But when I talked with the Culture and Tourism Ministry General Directorate of Museums, they said they did not have information about the cancelation of my exhibition. It was shocking. When I told this to the museum officials, they said ‘If your works stayed here, all exhibitions would have been canceled, too’.”
Demirtaş said she would file a complaint against the ministry, adding, “I was trying to feature Turkish women’s social life and drama. A mind that cannot tolerate five female sculptures hurt me too much. The exhibition was set to be open until Nov. 12. My goal is to learn the real reason. Is this censorship or failure [of the ministry]?”