Project by Çatlak Zemin opens at the Pera Museum as part of the Istanbul Biennial.  Merve Elveren and Çağla Özbek invited Çatlak Zemin to become a part of the “In Time / On Ground” research project, which led us to produce a response focusing on the Women’s Works Library and Information Center Foundation (WLCIF) archives.

As women who are part of the feminist movement and street activism, we have founded Çatlak Zemin in 2016, and defined documentation of feminist memory as one of our primary goals. We wanted to make the history of an action and its discourse built in texts, which was conveyed verbally for years, accessible to everyone without having to ask one another or searching for it in the swirls of our mailboxes. Our main intention was to transfer our own history to each other, more than becoming a source for feminist memory and creating feminist archiving practices. With this motivation, we have created the “Herstory” section, which started to grow day by day since the launch of the website. These articles, which initially included the date, a photograph of and brief information on an action, event, or campaign, were revised and expanded over time. And this section eventually turned into a dynamically growing archive.

The history of feminist movement in Turkey is usually represented by photos from 1980s. When we look back today, the photographs of actions such as the Campaign Against Beating, the first action which took place in Yoğurtçu Park, the Purple Needle, and Kariye Museum exhibition are important components of the feminist archive. We wanted to reveal the continuity of the feminist movement and the feminist archive by exhibiting these photos mostly found in the WLCIF archives, and the actions that have embraced and followed this history.

Alongside visuals focusing on actions, we have incorporated moments captured from different feminist synergies. These moments, which we randomly took from the photo albums of digital accounts, such as Feminist Gece Yürüyüşü [Feminist Night Walk] and Feminist Gündem, where feminist meetings and actions are shared and made public, express the diversification of images of our feminist togetherness, as well as the fact that feminist history is not only about political actions that mark major turning points but also about our everyday practices. At least, that was our intention behind bringing them together.

As we have stated in the foundational text of Çatlak Zemin, we have founded the website to “renew our feminist ties/links; to empower feminist discourse on the basis of women and to empower women based on feminist discourse”. We have tried to construct an intellectual framework by adding quotes from texts written by women on their experiences, thoughts and perspectives on feminist politics and feminist movement.

Inevitably, this work –like other feminist historiography and archive studies– is shaped by dispositions for inclusion and exclusion. Incorporation of an Istanbul-centered archive –with which women in Çatlak Zemin have a connection or of which they are a part– completes the work. We hope this work will serve as a thought-provoking and encouraging example of the ways in which we write, archive, and present the history of our feminist movement.


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