Özgür Gündem – Gaol


Handwritten journal.
Collectif work to denounce the closure of the newspaper Özgür Gündem.

Technical information : The originals being very fragile and being double-sided pages, we propose to realize an installation with quality prints preferably, of the size of the originals. (please see the installations already realized below)
On kraft paper, pencil, ballpoint pen, felt pen, paint, 39 x 55 cm/page. 2016, Mardin Prison.
Özgür Gündem n°1 : 8 pages. Özgür Gündem n°2 : 10 pages.

Özgür Gündem Gaol n°1, Mardin Prison August, September 2016

Özgür Gündem shuts down on August 16 2016, following a tough police raid, journalists and editorial staff are placed in detention.

An act of solidarity and active resistance occurs at the Mardin women’s prison and the detainees, Zehra Dogan among them, decide on September 12 2016 to publish °1 of Özgür Gündem, illustrated and entirely drawn by hand. The news and feature stories drawn from the prison news (the only news to which they have access) include several articles on the women prisoners, the pressures and violations of rights to which they are subjected in jail. Among them, Nûdem Durak, Roj Çem Partizan, Merge Polat, Öznur Değer, Dîljîn Dînç.

“Özgür Gündem was the only newspaper we read in prison. We learned it had been banned, closed down and that its journalists were imprisoned. We were stunned.  One of my friends originally from Cizre collapsed in tears. “We don’t even have a newspaper anymore! How will we keep informed?” She asked, crying. Her tears, her despair broke my heart. To console her, I said ’all the journalists are in prison. If there is no more Özgür Gündem, we’ll publish it from prison!’ She was happy and enthused by the project.

We did things right. I pulled a team together. Some became correspondents, others tackled the chronicles or the layouts. We even put together an editorial desk. We held editorial discussions every day, as in a real newspaper. We discussed, identified topics, spotted contact persons, sought their advice, gathered information and testimonies. Under the state of emergency, photography was forbidden in jail, so I made drawings to illustrate the articles.

I had rolls of Kraft paper for my drawings. We used that paper. We thus “edited” this paper entirely by hand. Afterward, during an open visit that allows detainees to meet their visitors face to face, I got it out.”

Of course, following the ’publication’ of Özgür Gündem ’Gaol’, the prison administrators were furious. We were subjected to endless searches of our cell blocks. Do you know what they were looking for? They were asking ’Where did you hide the printing press?’”

This first issue of Özgür Gündem – Gaol was published in September 2016 and reached a large audience through social media relays. By its hand-written manuscript and its content as well as by the rebellious spirit that gave rise to it, his newspaper provided a true lesson in resistance, a blow against despair.

A second issue was published in November 2016.

Özgür Gündem Gaol n°1, Mardin Prison September 2016

English and German translations.

Özgür Gündem Gaol n°2, Mardin Prison November 2016

English and German translations.

Özgür Gündem Gaol n1 and 2. Kiosk, Maxim Gorki Theatre 2021, Berlin. (Photo by Ute Langkafel)
Özgür Gündem Gaol n1 and 2 in “Fractured Spine”, Zurich, 2021 (photo by zehradogan.net)
Kunstbulletin, 11/2021 (photo by zehradogan.net)