A4 Atelier Contemporary Art Association (A4 Atölye Çağdaş Sanat Derneği) received a grant from our Culture & Arts Fund to implement the Acting Together and Saving Memory project to organise workshops and an exhibition and provide trainings to encourage especially women artists to act and produce together.
Read the interview below:
Can you tell us about the purpose of the A4 Atelier Contemporary Art Association (A4 Atelier) and your work?
A4 Atelier Contemporary Art Association was founded in 2018 as a non-profit civil society organisation. We implement projects and programs to increase artists’ learning and production opportunities. Our activities for young artists include meetings, exhibitions, portfolio evaluations, presentations, workshops, and research activities for young artists. We value collaborations to support the contemporary art of Diyarbakır and the region and to increase its international recognition. We aim to strengthen our interactions with art institutions and networks in Turkey and across the world.
Creating cultural employment areas for women artists is among the aims of your association. What are the reflections of gender inequality on women artists in the region?
We observe that women are strong and aware of their strength due to the political climate and the events in the region. We contribute to the visibility of women’s productivity by establishing communication networks in the field of culture and arts. If an artist is not being represented, that is because he/she does not actively tackle this problem. If desired, there is always a place to be represented. The projects we implement as A4 Atelier do not mean anything if women artists do not problematise the issues of visibility and employment, and struggle with them. Women need to take action on issues of representation. It is this desire and struggle that makes us work harder.
We value collaborations to support the contemporary art of Diyarbakır and the region and to increase its international recognition.
It is necessary to distinguish cultural employment from economic employment. We call bringing together artists with the actors of culture and arts they want to meet in their practices, cultural employment. This way, we want to enable women artists to meet with those who can contribute to the solution of problems arising in the art practices of women artists. Anyone who wants to take a step in these matters can find a platform. We act as a platform, creating professional-level exhibition spaces for artists and providing production support. We are working to make women artists visible, to increase their motivation at the professional level, and to provide employment in the field of culture and arts.
We know that the culture and arts field has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you share your observations about the effects of the pandemic on the culture and art field in Diyarbakir?
The impact of the pandemic on the culture-art field seemed like an axis shift at first. However, later we realised that this was not an axis shift and that the meaning of art has expanded. As the initial shock was over, quick steps were taken to reach people digitally. Art can always quickly reposition itself since it is ever-changing, renewing, and undying.
The inability of people to come together in public spaces negatively affected the world of culture and arts. Events were cancelled, and there were closures and forced changes in projects. During this time when artistic activities came to a standstill, we also had the opportunity to turn inward and contemplate deeply. With the development of digital infrastructures, we have seen that art lovers could reach and benefit from art, and concepts such as the centre and the periphery have lost their meaning. We can easily say that the same effects were experienced in Diyarbakir, just as in the world.
Art can always quickly reposition itself since it is ever-changing, renewing, and undying.
The developing technology is causing changes in the artistic production processes. One of them is the art of artificial intelligence. What kind of transformation is art undergoing in a world becoming more and more digital by the day?
The pandemic has accelerated the change in the meaning of art. With technology’s development, interest in non-fungible tokens (NFT) and crypto would increase, but the pandemic accelerated this process. The use of digital infrastructures and social media, and the adaptation of the actors from the arts sector to the digital environment took place quickly. Art always finds a way out, as it has in other periods of history.
NFT has ceased to be just an investment in art, it has covered all other fields of art. Crypto artists feel free and creative in the NFT world. This situation opens new spaces to art, artists, and art investors in various ways. We also should not ignore that most artificial intelligence productions that are not sustainable will be garbage in the NFT market. Businesses based on a solid foundation will position themselves more firmly in the NFT market day by day. Not everyone has to like or perform the art of artificial intelligence, but it cannot be ignored either.
The introduction of artificial intelligence art into our lives brought along the issue of artist rights. The addressee of the works produced by the artist is herself directly, without any intermediaries such as commissioners or galleries. Due to the follow-up of the artworks and the recording of the exchanges, the artist does not suffer any loss of rights. At the same time, the art market is positioning itself accordingly (Tax commission regulations, etc.)
The pandemic has accelerated the change in the meaning of art.
In the art of artificial intelligence, artists will be able to work from home and produce work and market their products on NFT markets. Of course, this market is a beautiful world that is always active and has no time limit. But there are downsides. It is also important not to ignore the damage of time and energy consumption to the ecosystem. Questions such as how the art world will normalise this, how it will play a role without consuming energy, and how it will continue, need to be considered. Despite these problems, we cannot prevent the development of the art of artificial intelligence.
With our grant support, you are implementing the Acting Together and Saving Memory project. Can you tell us about the purpose and activities of this project?
The project brings together women artists for workshops and a subsequent exhibition to act together, talk and develop new methods in artistic production. The project, which creates discussion areas for women artists from different disciplines living in Diyarbakir, aims to diversify the opportunities for research and practice. We will provide resources to the participants, who will be selected with the open call, to develop their art practices. Participants will also come together in online talks and final exhibitions. In addition, we aim to create a cultural employment area for women artists, to strengthen the role of art in solving the women’s problem in the city and throughout the country, to establish alternative relations networks and strengthen and/or transform the existing ones.
Gender is at the centre of the project. In the workshops, within the framework of concepts such as belonging and displacement, the problem of destruction and gentrification in the old settlement of Diyarbakır will be discussed through ecology, the city, social memory, and current politics. The artwork created in the project will meet art lovers from Diyarbakır with the final exhibition.
About A4 Atelier
A4 Atelier was established in Diyarbakır to support productive young people in the city, and to create new opportunities for them. A4 Atelier is a multi-functional art space that provides room for artists to express alternative art practices, also encouraging interdisciplinary partnerships. Since 2019, the Association has been carrying out projects on gender issues, equality, justice, and diversity.