CANSU YILDIRAN - FATHOM

In Turkey, violence, oppression and policies enacted to disregard LGBTIQ+ existence is escalating, and the hate crimes experienced by LGBTIQ+ individuals are proportionately increasing on a daily basis. 

There is no regulation in the laws to punish discrimination and human rights violations against LGBTIQ+ individuals. In addition, the state of Turkey—which does not have any legislations regarding sexual orientation and identity based discrimination—ranks first in trans murders in Europe, and ranks twelfth in the world. LGBTIQ+ individuals are pushed to suicide and made vulnerable to hate crimes due to numerous factors encouraged by the state, such as the inability to join the work force, or pressures put on by their families. 

In the news depicting acts of violence against LGBTIQ+ individuals, there is no care shown to protect the rights of the victims, due to the disdain against their gender identity and sexual orientation. The language and the visuals used in media are always of great importance, especially about those who lost their lives as a result of violence. However, photographs in media often show the victim in humiliating situations and the language is not carefully selected; ending up intentionally targeting and demeaning. Because of all this, the LGBTIQ+ representation is always seen as underpowered. In fact, it is not only our sexual orientation and gender identity that brings us into existence.

Via staged documentary photographs, I took imaginary portraits of LGBTIQ+ individuals, who lost their lives in Turkey due to human rights violations and hate crimes, reflected on surviving members of the LGBTIQ+ community. With this story, I hope to create an unusual monument. I believe in a strong connection between those who were killed and those who survived and carry on the struggle and suffering. Each generation inherits the dreams of the previous one and lives the dreams that those who are no longer among us, perhaps, were not able to realize.

Based on the imagination of a world far from societal norms, I aimed to create queer fairy tales with the people photographed here. I have allowed the symbols in my subconscious of increasing hate crimes and my intuition to guide me. With these tales, I hope to create an unusual monument.

Perhaps the first layer of this imaginary atmosphere was being an LGBTIQ+ individual in this geography. But I sensed that there was a deeper "other" within us that binds us. I wanted to create a fairy tale with characters that live within us and that we all individually contain. While doing this, I wanted to avoid normativity, unintentionally producing a language of violence and Orientalism. LGBTIQ+ is a subject that has been photographed thousands of times with only its outer surface visible.

Assuming the urgency of telling our existence as LGBTIQ+ in a region such as Turkey as only the surface, I decided to dig deeper.