A Turkish artist, Vahit Tuna, exhibited an open-air art installation in which he hung 440 black heels to symbolize the deaths of women in Turkey in 2018 due to domestic violence. The exhibition was a part of Yankose, a not-for-profit arts platform started in 2017 by Kahve Dunyasi, a Turkish coffee chain. The shoes have been hung on two installation walls of the building that hosts the Kahve Dunyasi branch, in  Istanbul’s Kabatas neighbourhood in Beyoglu district. The exhibit covers an area of 260 square meters on the outer wall and the intersection wall. It was installed earlier this month and will remain until six months to highlight the national problem of domestic violence.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vahit Tuna, a Turkish artist, exhibited an open-air art installation in which he hung 440 black heels commemorating the murders of 440 women in Turkey due to domestic violence.
  • The exhibition is a strong message against domestic violence, a national and a global issue.
  • The art installation is a part of  Yankose- a not-for-profit arts platform started in 2017 by Kahve Dunyasi, a Turkish coffee chain. It has been put up on the outer and the intersection walls of the building hosting the Kahve Dunyasi branch in Istanbul’s Kabatas neighbourhood in Beyoglu district.
  • It was installed earlier this month and will remain until six months to highlight the national problem of domestic violence.

The idea behind the exhibition:

Many women around the world are the victims of domestic violence and are consequently killed by their partners. Domestic violence is a global issue but it is mostly silenced or ignored as “personal problems”. The exhibition of the Turkish artist aims at breaking this long drawn silence around domestic violence and give women voice and agency.

According to Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We will stop Femicide Platform), an organization in Turkey that records the deaths of women due to domestic violence in the country, 440 women lost their lives in 2018 due to domestic violence. Whereas, in 2017, the number of deaths was 409. Vahit Tuna’s exhibition has 440 shoes which are equal to the number of women died in 2018. This not only makes the exhibition horrific but also a powerful message on domestic violence as a national and global issue. The black heels, as Vahit Tuna said, is a sign of independence and defiance that marks feminine power and agency. He also said that the project both raises awareness about the women murders and also materializes the issue of domestic violence like a sculpture or monument.

The hanging of shoes on walls is a customary practice in Turkey in which the shoes of women who are dead are hung on the walls of their homes. Tuna borrowed this idea of commemorating the dead to raise awareness about domestic violence and give voice to the women who have died as victims.

The location and the social critique of the exhibition

Besides, the location of the exhibition (on the outer wall of the building) is also significant for the message it tries to convey. Tuna deliberately chose to put up the exhibition on the outer walls of the building rather than doing it inside so that the art and its message is visible to not only the art-seekers but also the common people of Turkey who pass the building on daily basis. The building is located in a busy area where it can be visible to everyone in the city. Yankose itself is a famous public artwork display, known for its impact due to its location in the city.

The exhibition that carries a strong social critique is meant to be seen and comprehended by the whole society, and not only the chunks of it. The global popularity of the exhibition itself proves the point. The project and the haunting criticism of domestic violence, which is not an alien idea in any part of the world, is visible and affecting people in Turkey and around the world.

Why is the exhibition garnering attention globally?

The message sent out by the Turkey shoe installation is not restricted to the said country and goads every nation in the world to take measures to ensure safety of women.

Even though the Turkish art exhibition focuses on the records of domestic violence deaths in Turkey, it is influencing people globally. The haunting aspect of the exhibition is the number of shoes equal to the number of women murdered, which marks the absence of the women who should have been alive today. Last month in Turkey, the murder of Emine Bulut by her husband in front of her daughter sparked a public outcry against domestic violence. However, the global figures on domestic violence against women show how the issue is alarmingly widespread and commonplace. According to 2017 report by WHO,  as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner, globally. It further added that 1 in 3 (35 percent) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

Therefore, the message sent out by the Turkey shoe installation is not restricted to the said country and goads every nation in the world to take measures to ensure safety of women.

Picture Credit: Metro

Also Read: Behind Closed Doors: Growing up with domestic violence in India

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.

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