Academy of Silence is a project and experimental platform that was developed as a continuation of Silence of Academy, concerning with the issues of sexual harassment in universities, representation of others’ sufferings and new forms of political and aesthetic expression. It was constructed around the argument that not every traumatic experience can/should be conveyable, especially within the everyday power relations that determine who has right to speak out and who should be silent against certain incidents (such as harassment); as well as who is the receiver and who is the narrator of experiences. Such concerns become more relevant especially when narratives are to travel to other social, political and geographical contexts. Academy of Silence emerged with the urge of problematising the issue of this travel and spectatorship, after the project Silence of Academy—and thereby the experiences of Turkish women—was expected to travel from Turkey to Sweden, to the eyes of far distant audience in an exhibition.
Not only the inconvenience of linguistic translation (of the dictionary in particular), but also the impossibility of representing of others’ context-specific narratives in another context entailed another way of transmitting the knowledge which would raise similar questions in audience’s minds instead of putting them in a mere spectator status or in so-called interaction. To do that, a corresponding research on sexual harassment had to be made in Sweden as well, to find out differences and similarities between politics and experiences and to link them through a common language. Therefore, after one-year working collaboration with Nina Jeppsson, a Swedish feminist activist actress, the practice resulted in a video work as a performance that reflected our collective interpretation and translation of the first work—the content of the dictionary—in combination with her individual experiences on the issue. The video work consisted of both her own visual reflections on spaces, feelings and timeframes of harassments, and the commonplace violent questions and comments women are asked after most of the incidents (This part also referred to the commonplace words pointed out in the dictionary).
At the end, the different forms of expression (a dictionary-photo-narrative book, a performance-video, a room that was set for the exhibition according to the content and even me, myself) represented some of the possible media that design—or material practices in general—could be performed and applied for a particular political agenda without mere profitable instrumentalisation. In the ‘designed’ platform as a space for the exhibition; different languages, media and stories were staged for different ways of reading for different bodies.
Captures from the exhibition space
Video work of Academy of Silence, black and white, 7 min. 2 sec., screened as a looped movie, English and Swedish, projected on a chalked screen on a blackened wall