Curated by Queer Art Projects, Turkish Delight festival will bring five queer art events, in five days, to five different venues in East London. For those who are interested in queer art in all its incarnations, for those who would like to get to know a different side of Turkish culture, for the entire queer community with all its LGBTQI+ components, and for those who are already addicted to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours of art.
The festival consists of a screening of live art documentations from Turkey, preceded by the curators’ introductory talk and followed by a Q&A, at Live Art Development Agency (LADA), a belly-dancing workshop for the queer and non-binary by the oriental dance master Mr. Ozgen at International College of Musical Theatre, a symposium on Turkish queer politics, culture and art, at Goldsmiths University, a night of live art performances, pop-up exhibition, music, dance and party, which will be the new instalment of the ongoing, addictive Deep Trash nights at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and screening of two experimental documentaries about the commodification of sexual minorities from a Berlin based director Emre Busse.
YASS Magazine met director Emre Busse just before the official premiere of the Turkish Delight Festival.
Who is Emre Busse and how would you describe your work?
Emre Busse is an artist, filmmaker, and Ph.D. candidate focusing on gay ‘ethnic’ pornography in Europe. I do participate in a variety of practices such as curatorial practice, filmmaking, performance, lecture and so on. There is no specific style or genre that can help me to describe my work. I would rather identify myself as an embodiment of interdisciplinary practices that deal with pornography and its politics.
What shall we expect to see in the Turkish Delight festival?
Turkish Delight offers five days long rich event series in East London. Queer Art Projects (Tuna Erdem and Seda Ergul) put such hard work on this program which will bring together queer artists, academics, and community members from different geographies and backgrounds. This intensive program of events will enrich London’s queer day and nightlife in collaboration with Deep Trash, Cuntemporary, Goldsmiths University, Benthal Green Working Men’s Club with the support of Arts Council England. There will be a variety of events such as ‘Queer Art Culture and Politics from Turkey symposium’ at the Goldsmiths University of London on the 19th of March. Dr. Cüneyt Cakirlar and Dr. Evren Savcı, will be doing a keynote speech on this symposium and to me, this is very important since they are two milestone academics who did very important research on queer art in Turkey. Following day, two great parties of London are pairing to present kinky performances and large scale of artworks in an exhibition and exciting party setting. On the 22nd of March, there will be a movie screening and a Q&A session which I’ll participate in to meet with the audience. Turkish Delight will be delighting London’s queer scene with an unforgettable series of events.
You have been head curator and participating artist of the Berlin-based queer art project, Pornceptual between 2014 – 2017. How did Pornceptual come to your life and how was this experience?
I moved to Berlin in 2012 and one of my first friends in Berlin was Chris Phillips who is the name father of the project. One of our meetings he invited me to collaborate. This is how Pornceptual came into my life. At that time Pornceptual was more of a boutique party in Berlin’s nightlife which Chris was co-organizing with Raquel Fedato. Our collaborative spirit led us to amazing short movies, art performances and great party nights in Berlin which made Pornceptual a trademark now in Berlin’s nightlife. The growth of the project is so successful. I toured many countries including Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Amsterdam and so on. It was a great experience and I do see Raquel and Chris as good friends of mine. We supported each other on the level of both personal and artistic growth. Pornceptual is an open and democratic platform that creates safe-space and provides visibility for many artists who are underrepresented since pornography is still not being considered seriously as an art form. This experience has historical importance for my career as well. It helped me to find my way in art and movies while being an active member of the queer porn network, especially in Berlin.
What are the messages you want to convey through your movies?
I cannot say I have a specific message for my movies, or I do these movies to give one particular message. I do believe that my movies are thresholds in-between situations and social positions. I do see performances of things where it’s unexpected to see. For instance, in The Landlords – The Economics of S&M Apartments in Berlin, I wanted to question what is owning a property for commerce while being an active member of the fetish community. Me and Ceven Knowles (co-director of the movie) decided to find the owners and to somehow convince them to be exposed about their position between being a scene member in the fetish community, being gay and upper-class wealthy men. I do mostly documentaries recently. In the recent documentaries I co-directed, I like to ask questions where I can create new meanings. For this reason, those movies are kind of a sketchbook for my thoughts and ideas to create new meanings.
Do hyper-masculine gay men undermine the dominant hetero-patriarchal values around gender and sexuality?
That is a very individual experience. I don’t think I am the right person to be a spokesperson for hypermasculine gay men. I do believe that some of these men reverting the hetero-patriarchal values around gender and sexuality by being aware of their position. We have to look back to the AIDS epidemy where hypermasculinity became a trend within the gay community. Gay men wanted to prove themselves as healthy beings due to the social pressure put on them. This is how bodybuilding trends became popular in the gay scene but how it’s evolved today is terrifying. Because now most of these representatives are using their hyper-masculine body representations to discriminate feminine allies which makes no sense to me. We are experiencing most of the femme shaming comes from hypermasculine members of the gay community not only because they appreciate people like themselves but as a defense mechanism how heteropatriarchal society thought them to hate one another to survive.
In relation to the hyper femininity of drag queens, to what degree is camp and irony involved in the performance of hyper masculinity?
I think being hypermasculine is also a form of performance where you can read through drag. Not only hypermasculine men but also leather and rubber fetish men are also performing drag to me. I do think that my existence in the S&M scene is a drag for an outsider. Not only because I do wear ‘different’ outfits, but I also outperform myself through leather or rubber gear. Instead of make-up, I rely on fabric to create a different interface. For so many years there is a competition called International Mr. Leather in Chicago, US. To me such a pageant is also a form of drag, that doesn’t need some sort of expected make-up or lip-sync where we expected from Today’s drag performers. Drag today is outperforming its titleholders and meanings. Performing temporal another self has already inescapable irony and camp in it.
How easy/difficult was for a Turkish man to settle in Berlin? Is the audience different?
Being an immigrant for a non-European person is never an easy process. Let’s start from here. Not only because you have to deal with the bureaucracy but also you are financially not equally powerful as the other European or North American (US & Canada) due to the currency rate. I am half Kurdish and half Anatolian Greek, therefore, I don’t have much to do with being Turkish, but I was born and raised in Istanbul and I do speak the language. Speaking Turkish has a huge opportunity in Berlin where there are big numbers of migrants are speaking the language. It helped me to find a daytime job, helped me to find friends, find me to help to get into new scenes and so on. Of course, there are several difficulties as well. Such as dealing with the stereotypes where you will be judged by your background and physical features. Throughout the years, I made peace with all these and instead of declining stereotypes I use them as a gift and use it for the redemption.
When it comes to the audience, of course, it is different. Berlin is a multi-cultural city where you can meet people who have an extremely different and rich background comparing one another. This uniqueness about Berlin is such a workshop for an artist who works with a live audience. It is extremely vocal and rich.
How has the LGBTQ+ scene in Berlin affected and influenced your work?
When I look back my last 8 years in Berlin, I did a lot of things including co-curating a show at the Schwules Museum Berlin* (Gay History Museum) focusing on the artistic relationship between Istanbul and Berlin, curating Pornceptual, directing several documentaries, attending numerous lectures about pornography, organizing community events and so on. I do believe that I am a vocal member of the queer and gay community of Berlin and I do believe that I brought a new voice in queer body positive and political scene of this city. I did so many collaborations with such talented artists and all these dialogues invited great artistic energies which helped Berlin to become more liberated. I love to see how each new member of this scene is presenting a new breath. This is what makes us such a strong community.
What are your future plans?
Maybe I should mention some of my short-term plans first. I will be in Vienna right after Turkish Delight to be a judge at the Porn Film Festival Vienna. During my visit to Vienna, I’ll be speaking at the Queer History Day of Vienna in collaboration with QWIEN (Zentrum für Queere Gesichte) and Porn Film Festival Vienna. In May, I will be heading to the 1st ever Porn Film Festival Athens which I am quite excited to see. During the summer I am planning to make a new movie which will be about Leather Tribe and the translation of its old traditions.
TURKISH DELIGHT festival in details:
17-22 March 2020 in London
Below the list of activities:
1. Enduring Turkey @ Live Art Development Agency (LADA)
Tue 17 March 7-9pm / Free
‘Enduring Turkey’ is a compilation of Live Art documentation and performance videos from Turkey and its diaspora. Focusing specifically on endurance performances, the programme will bring together examples from the pioneers of performance art with its latest incarnations, which refer to the conditions that trans, queer and feminists endure in the current political climate of Turkey.
2. Shake That Queer Belly @ International College of Musical Theatre (ICMT)
Wed 18 March / 6.30-8.30 pm / (£6)
A bellydancing workshop by master bellydancer Mr. Özgen, for the queer and non-binary
3. Queer Art, Culture and Politics from Turkey and its Diaspora @ Goldsmiths University
Thurs 19 March / 6-9pm / Free
Symposium bringing together presentations from prominent scholars with, performative lectures and spoken-word performances at Goldsmiths University, supported by the Mountain of Art Research (MARs) and the Center for Feminist Research. The key note address by Assistant Professor Evren Savci from Yale University will give a general overview of queer culture and politics in contemporary Turkey, while the second key note address by senior lecturer Cuneyt Cakirlar from Nottingham Trent University will provide an overview of Turkish contemporary queer art.
4. Deep Trash: Turkish Delight @ Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (BGWMC)
Fri 20 March / 8pm – 2am / (£8/10)
The famous exhibition-cum-performance-club night with a Turkish twist at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (BGWMC)
5. Cinema Cummodification: Two Documentaries and a Q&A @ Horse Hospital
Sun 22 March / 5-8pm / (£10)
Screening of two experimental documentaries co-directed by the Berlin-based Turkish director Emre Busse, about the commodification of sexual minorities, at the Horse Hospital. Busse will attend a Q&A session after the screening.
Turkish Delight is curated by Queer Art Projects in partnership with CUNTemporary and supported by Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants, The Mountain of Arts Research (MARs) and Centre of Feminist Research at Goldsmiths College, Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (BGWMC)
Turkish Delight: https://www.queerartprojects.co.uk/td
Who Has Come, Who Has Gone, Leman Sevda Daricioglu, 2016
Image by Levent Basacik
Courtesy the artists
Emre Busse by Rafal Gaweda
Courtesy the artists
The coupling of the decade:
Deep Trash is a unique multi-disciplinary exhibition and performance night produced by Arts Feminism Queer / CUNTemporary. Since 2014, the Deep Trash format continues to be a stable presence for a network of artists and audiences that are drawn to a more dynamic engagement with artistic work and aesthetic experience, beyond traditional exhibition spaces. Every Deep Trash event is constructed around a theme and There have been a series of Deep Trash events which focused on queer and performance art cultures of certain countries or regions among which were, Deep Trash Italy, Deep Trash Greece and Deep Trash Escoria.
Turkish Delight: A Bilingual Queer Night, which graced the renowned queer performance venue The Glory, seven times in 2018 is a live art night with a Turkish flavour.
Now Deep Trash: Turkish Delight will bring you best of two worlds in a night of performances, exhibition, dancing and tasting the Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean mix of flavours of queer art in all its facets.
CUNTemporary is a non-profit organisation that works with individuals and groups that explore feminist, queer and decolonial art practices and theories. CUNTemporary provides a newsletter and daily listings of events related to feminist and queer art practices in the UK.
The events team curates talks, screenings, exhibitions, performances, events and club nights with the participation of a multidisciplinary and international group of artists, performers and theorists, mainly in London, but also around the UK and abroad.
Deep Trash is a unique multi-disciplinary exhibition and performance club night produced by Arts Feminism Queer / CUNTemporary.