Un/Freedom: Art as Activism

12:00 to 15:00
Online Workshop

This online workshop gathers artists who are using different mediums of their creative expressions to address intimate, social, and political issues relevant for local, regional and/or global contexts. Socially engaged artists from Turkey, China and Serbia will address the broad topic of  Un/Freedom, and link it to their art, their thinking, past or present activities or interests. 

Some of the questions and issues which may initiate our discussions are: freedom, its lacks and limits;  freedom as/through creation and destruction; un/free body, emotion, mind and desire; freedom and public-private space; freedom and dis/appearance… This is not an exhaustive list of themes we hope to discuss with the artists and with the attending audience.

Simultaneous Mandarin – English – Turkish translation provided!

Tentative schedule:

Time: Belgrade 12.00-15.00;  Helsinki 13.00 – 16.00; Istanbul 14.00-17.00; China 19.00-22.00, Copenhagen: 12.00-15.00

Zoom link:  https://hku.zoom.us/j/93585493244

Zoom ID: 935 8549 3244   

For scanning the QR Code please check the poster.


Asya Leman

Asya Leman is an activist and visual artist based in Istanbul. She received her bachelor’s degree in Photography and Video, and her master’s degree in Radio, Television and Film from İstanbul Bilgi University. She has been producing activist videos and undertaking independent projects in collaboration with non-governmental organizations since 2015. She was the project manager of the Film Activism Workshop held in Istanbul and Gothenburg between 2017-2018 by SPoD and Swedish Feminist School Kvinnofolkhögskolan. With her docufiction short film Hükmü Yok produced in 2018, she became interested in constructing visual narratives against the masculine domination of the state through bureaucracy. She focused in her works on the performativity of the bureaucratic ways of classifying the society as well as on confrontations where concepts of identity, gender, and spatiality intersect. She contributed a video work to “Aşikar Sır”, the exhibition held at Karşı Art Gallery in 2019 by Hakikat Adalet Hafıza Merkezi [Truth Justice Memory Center] as part of the International Week of Struggle Against Disappearances in Custody. In 2020, she became engaged with TAPA (Transformative Art Project for Activists) project organized by independent activists and artists, and exhibited her installation “Aile Cüzdanı” in TAPA exhibition held in Barınhan between December 2020 and January 2021.

Asya usually places herself in the foreground of her imaginative works inspired by her personal experiences. Drawing on documents, images and objects from her personal history, she experiments with creating narratives that offer an inverted version of the lived experience. She produces her works usually with analog tools or techniques of a specific craft. In the beginning of 2021, she founded a video production studio called Lub 28 where she collaborates with queer artists from different disciplines. In this project, she dreams together with queer artists, and works to make dreams come true.

Furkan Öztekin

Furkan Öztekin (d. 1993) graduated from the Painting Department at Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Fine Arts and completed his postgraduate studies at Namık Kemal University Institute of Social Sciences, Department of Painting. He was among the participants of Istanbul Biennial Production and Research Pogramme (2018-2019) & Arter Research Programme (2020-2021). He has participated in various group exhibitions and competitions including Akbank Contemporary Artists Prize Exhibition (2015); Young Fresh Different, Gallery Zilberman (2016); Colony, Abud Efendi Mansion / Schwules Museum (2017-2018); Positive Space, Operation Room (2018); Four Seasons In May, Mixer (2019); Internal/External, Simbart Projects (2021). Öztekin re-interprets the notion of space through the axis of silence, emptiness, time, limits and rhythm. Informed by LGBTI+ activism in his works, the artist reinterprets document-based historical narratives on spaces of resistance and memory through the lens of his artistic practice.


Şafak Şule Kemancı

Şafak Şule Kemancı is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Istanbul. In their recent works, Şafak imagines an erotic queer ecosystem where the boundaries between being plant, mineral, human or animal become fluid. The artist shapes this ecosystem through stretching the potentialities of the material. Belonging neither to a specific time nor a specific place, it invites the audience to travel between the artificial and the natural. This is a place where enthusiasm and exuberance are welcomed, and the movement is never exhausted.

In Şafak’s works, an intense effort makes an appearance right at the point where the consciousness flows and the mind exposes itself to a performative process. Repeating patterns, textures, figures, and pieces are fluently brought together. It is possible to associate this coming together of repetitions with the plants recurrently blooming in the queer ecosystem to which artist’s gaze has been turned for a long time. Having studied textile design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, Şafak received her master’s degree in fine art at Goldsmiths University of London. They works have been exhibited in various venues in Istanbul, London, and San Francisco.

Text by Fisun Yalçınkay, Photo by Nazlı Erdemirel

Zheng Hongbin

Independent curator, he has worked as project coordinator of Guangdong Times Art Museum – Huangbian Station Contemporary Art Research Center, curator of Xi’an Art Museum, and curator of Shenzhen Circle Art Center. In recent years, he has curated several art residency programs, community art projects, and social art activisms in the China. The residency programs he curated include: “Deputy Curator Project” (2015), “Promised Land: Xingqinggong Park” (2016), and “Theory of Practice: Illustrating Nearby” (2016) in collaboration with contemporary literary authors and artists. “In 2016, he participated in the launch of the social art project “Residents”, which invited more than 30 artists to conduct research and related practices on the consequences of urbanization and the rights of residents in the Pearl River Delta region of China. In 2017, he and artists from Xisan Village, a suburban village on the outskirts of Guangzhou, jointly initiated the community practice “Xisan Film Studio”, a video project on consequences of urbanization embodied in Xisan Village. It is a long-term practical project of making “media” together with villagers, inviting 100 villagers in Xisan to film another urban village named Baishizhou in Shenzhen where over 150,000 villagers are facing forced relocation, together made a documentary named “Villager Reporters”.

In 2018, he launched “Nine Launches”, a social art project aims to practice art as media that lasted for around 2 years. More than 10 artists worked in over 10 cities in China, covering environmental protection, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, dissidents, forced relocation, urban and rural space rights and other rights issues; among them, Nut Brothers’ “Little Rabbit Water Pollution” project and Wu Laobai’s project “Lovers” have been widely reported by many media at home and abroad. In 2019, he collaborated with Chinese feminist activists and sexual violence survivors to curate #MeToo in China Exhibition and toured in Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, New York and Shanghai. In the summer of 2019, he also co-curated a series of projects on the forcibly relocated urban village of Baishizhou in Shenzhen

Wu Laobai

Wu Laobai often intervenes in public issues through artistic actions, seeking the “obscured” issues of daily life into public view. In recent years, he has participated in and initiated several social art practice projects, and now he wanders in the urban villages in south China. His recent exhibitions and practical projects: No Blackout, Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai (2021); An individual as a society , Oxbow Art Village, Hong Kong (2021); Resisting Collective Amnesia as Certainty in Uncertainty, Oxbow Warehouse, Macau (2020); Hidden Nets, New Creation Space, Guangzhou (2019); Architecture, or Architecture, Casa Art Museum, Guangzhou (2019); Nine Launches (2018 -2019); The 2nd Circle Art Youth Award, Shenzhen Circle Art Center (2017); New Urban Legend – Resistance to Space, Chinese Cultural Foundation Center, San Francisco (2017); The 6th Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Nomination Award (2017); Residents Re-Recruit, Shenzhen Box Art Space (2017).

Olga Dimitrijević

Olga Dimitrijević is (still) a Yugoslavian playwright, director and dramaturg. She defended her MA thesis “The Body of the Female Folk Singer: Constructions of National Identities in Serbia after 2000” in Gender Studies at Central European University, Budapest. Ever since, female folk singers and their songs strongly influenced her work. She constantly explores the topics of social struggles and injustices, female friendship and solidarity, queer histories, limits of political imagination and possibilities of a better world.

Her significant plays include “A play of the end of the world”, “I often dream of a revolution”, “My Dear”, “Folk Play”, “Workers Die Singing”, “Let’s Say Goodbye”. She directed the performances “I often dream of a revolution”, “Red Love”, (based on Alexandra Kollontai’s novel), “Freedom is the most expensive capitalist word” (co-authored with Maja Pelević), Lepa Brena Project (with Vladimir Aleksić), Lonely Planet (with a group of authors), and a documentary piece Radio Šabac. Participated in several international exhibitions. Participant of Theatertreffen International Forum 2019. Winner of Sterijino Pozorje and Borislav Mihailović Mihiz award for playwriting. Lives and works between Belgrade and Rijeka.

Ivana Smiljanić

Ivana Smiljanić is a visual and performance artist born in Belgrade. She graduated at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, where she obtained her Magister Degree in 2009. As a grant-holder of KulturKontakt (Vienna) and SSA (Salzburg), she spent two summers studding video art and performance at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts. She attended one-year program of Women’s Studies at the Center for Women’s Studies in Belgrade, as well as an alternative program of the Queer Studies at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade. In her work, by using various media and resources of her own body, she is re-creating/re-interpreting experiences and contexts that she faces as a woman, as an artist and as a citizen.

She had solo-shows and performances in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Pančevo, Smederevo, Vranje, Prijepolje, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula, Zabok, Ljubljana, Bratislava, Brussels, Bergen and New York. She participated in all major art festivals in Serbia and more than seventy group exhibitions in Europe and US.

As the winner of the “Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos” Award (Young Visual Artists Award network) in 2009, she was an artist in residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York. She was the Serbian representative for the Henkel Art Award in 2011. and in 2021 she was awarded the Best Art Exhibition for the season 2020/2021 by the Ilija M. Kolarac Endowment in Belgrade. Her works are part of the Telenor Art Collection and the October Salon Collection of the Belgrade Cultural Center. She lives in Sofia and Belgrade.

e: [email protected]

Co-organizers and moderators:

Aylime Asli Demir  

Xiong Jing 

Dušica Ristivojević


Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network/NIAS

KAOS GL and Ankara Queer Art Program

Zoom ID: 935 8549 3244. No registration needed

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