Curated by Elettra StamboulisMuseum of Santa Giulia16 November 2019 - 6 January 2020EXTENDED UP TO SUNDAY 1 MARCH 2020



Curated by Elettra Stamboulis
Museum of Santa Giulia
16 November 2019 – 6 January 2020
Press preview: Friday 15 November, 11.30 am
Opening: Friday 15 November, 7.00-9.00 pm

“The eyes of the characters I draw are larger than normal. They are wide open and large. Because eyes witness everything… Talking is not enough, I know that already. It’s the eyes of the characters that tell it all.”
Zehra Doğan
The City of Brescia and Fondazione Brescia Musei, directed by Stefano Karadjov, in the setting of the Museum of Santa Giulia, present for the first time in Italy a solo show with works by Kurdish artist and journalist Zehra Doğan (Diyarbakir, Tukey, 1989). 
We will also have better days – Zehra Doğan. Works from the Turkish prisons, from Saturday 16 November 2019 to 6 January 2020, is an original project curated by Elettra Stamboulis, the first critical curatorial exhibition dedicated to the founder of the Kurdish feminist news agency Jinha. Following the great success of Doğan’s performance organised last May at Tate Modern in London, the city she has chosen as her temporary residence while in exile, the artist is now the protagonist of this powerful exhibition, organised in Brescia on the occasion of her participation in the Festival della Pace (Peace Festival) organised by the City of Brescia and the Province of Brescia.
This artist’s creations merge with her personal story and, inevitably, with the latest dramatic political events.
The exhibition sheds light on her imagery, exploring her recurring themes and motifs, highlighting her linguistic complexity and showing the wide range of media and techniques employed in her production: unusual and very frail objects endowed with a great expressive force.
The exhibition display defined by Elettra Stamboulis includes about 60 never-displayed-before artworks including drawings, paintings, and mixed media works, dating from the artist’s detention in the prisons of Mardin, Diyarbakir and Tarso, where Zehra spent 2 years, 9 months and 22 days, accused of terrorist propaganda for having posted on Twitter a watercolour inspired by a photograph taken by a Turkish soldier. This digital drawing showed the city of Nusaybin destroyed by the National army in June 2016 with triumphant flags hoisted up and tanks transformed into scorpions. Next to her pictures, the exhibition displays excerpts from the diary Doğan kept during her imprisonment. Her writings often refer to other artists who over the course of history have manifested their dissent without apparently having to suffer the consequences of their ideas, and other artists who, on the other hand, refused to take a stance.  
The exhibition gives account of her irrepressible need to describe and tell about her condition and most importantly that of others through her images and words. From newspaper sheets to cigarette packet papers, from everyday clothes to scraps of fabric: a wide range of tools and materials, often linked to the specific conditions within which the works were conceived. Any element taken from everyday life becomes part of her creative practice: coffee, food, menstrual blood or the more traditional techniques, such as pastels and inks, when available.
The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to stains, shapes originating from the casual mark left on a support chosen as a creative surface. From stains the artist was able to define a symbolic imagery, dominated by human figures, with stylized eyes, hands, and female attributes. Female figures, interpreted as individual presences or a collective group, are the focus of the second section of the display. As a feminist activist and one of the first international journalists to have collected the testimonies of the Yazidi women who managed to escape ISIS, Doğan dedicates most of her production to the representation of women. The female body becomes part of a political representation with scenes of war, where again the female presence is predominant, underlining how the first battle to be won is that against patriarchy. Pablo Picasso, the creator of Guernica and of the elaboration of a specific language of despair, is as the artist herself declares, a fundamental point of reference in the definition of a narrative of pain.  
The exhibition closes with a group of works created after Doğan was released from prison.
Zehra Doğan was released 24 February 2019. Her dissident artist story immediately captured the interest and the solidarity of the international art world. Ai Weiwei wrote her a personal letter and, last year, Banksy dedicated to her the most coveted wall of Manhattan, the Bowery Wall, with a work that portrays her behind bars, while holding her most powerful weapon, a pencil. Over this entire period, the artist has never interrupted her artistic and journalistic activity, producing artworks with reclaimed material, collaborating with inmates in the creation of images, and illustrating a logbook documenting their detention.
The exhibition We will also have better days – Zehra Doğan. Works from the Turkish prisons is accompanied by a rich line-up of activities to further explore the subjects dealt with in the exhibition, open to adults, families and schools, curated by the Learning services department of Fondazione Brescia Musei. Among these appointments is one with the artist in memory of Hevrin Khalaf, Saturday 23 November at 4.00 pm.
This exhibition was possible thanks to the efforts of the web magazine Kedistan (“country of cats” in Turkish) that salvaged and transported Zehra Doğan’s works from Turkey and that currently manages the artist’s archive, and of Associazione Mirada, partner in this project.
Special thanks for their sensibility towards this project go to Abracadabra Cooperativa Sociale onlus, Associazione Cuochi Bresciani, and Strada del Vino Colli dei Longobardi that will contribute to the open buffet organised for the day of the inauguration.
PCM Studio di Paola C. Manfredi Via Farini 70 | 20159 Milan | T. + 39 02 87 28 65 820
Title: We will also have better days – Zehra Doğan. Works from the Turkish prisons
Curated by Elettra Stamboulis
Dates: 16 November 2019 – 6 January 2020
Location: Museo di Santa Giulia, Via Musei 81/b – 25121 Brescia
Opening: Friday 15 November 7.00 pm
Santa Giulia conference hall, Via Piamarta 4 – Brescia
Press preview: Friday 15 November, 11.30 am
Times: Tuesday–Friday | 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
Saturday – Sunday – Public holidays | 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
Closed on non-holiday Mondays
Info: tel. 030 2977833 – 834 | mail. | web.
From 16 – 30 November 2019
During the Festival della Pace
Free entry
From 1 December 2019 to 6 January 2020
€ 5,00 (full)
€ 4,00 (for 14 – 18-year-olds and over-65, university and academy students, groups of 10 to 30 people and card holders)
€ 3,00 (for school groups, 6 – 13-year-olds, groups of at least 10 university students)
€ 5,00 (school groups with learning activity)
Guided tours plus workshops for adults: ticket + 4€ for the activity
Free for 0-6-year-olds, group supervisors, two teachers per class, visitors with >75% disability, one carer, Musei Lombardia Milano card holders, licenced tourist guides.

Zehra was born in 1989 in Diyarbakır, Turkey. She graduated at the Dicle University’s Fine Arts Programme and is the co-founded JINHA, the first all-women press agency (Jin in Kurdish means woman), where she worked from 2010 to 2016 until JINHA was closed by the government. Over these years Zehra Dorğan has been awarded several prizes, including the Metin Göktepe Journalism Award, one of the most prestigious in Turkey. Recently she received the Exceptional Courage in Journalism Award, from the Fondation May Chidiac (MCF) in Lebanon.
During the war in Iraq and Syria, the artist and journalist reported from both fronts and was one of the first journalists to give account of the Yazidi women who were enslaved by ISIS in northern Iraq. During the conflicts in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, Doğan tried to report from Cizre and Nusaybin where the national government had imposed a curfew and journalists were banned.
In July 2016, the day after she left Nusaybin, Zehra Doğan was incarcerated in Mardin. Following a trial, in March 2017 she was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days under the charge of “terrorist propaganda” based on the articles she had written and one watercolour. On 23 October 2018 she was arrested and taken first to the prison of Diyarbakir, and then to the higher security penitentiary of Tarsus.
Zehra’s work was displayed in August 2016 in France at the Douarnenez Film Festival. In 2017, while waiting for her trial after her first detention, she organised an exhibition in Diyarbakır, entitled 141 (the number of days she spent in jail) presenting the paintings she had made in prison.
On 8 October 2018, during the 84th International PEN Congress in India, Zehra Doğan was appointed, although she could not attend the ceremony, honorary member of the association. During that same year, her works included in 141, the paintings produced between her first release and her following re-incarceration, plus the works she later produced in prison were exhibited in Europe thanks to the voluntary work of the Kedistan association.
In November 2019 the publishing house Editions de Femmes will publish the correspondence she held with Naz Oke during her detention, entitled Nous aurons aussi de beaux jours which inspired the title of the present exhibition in Brescia.

Born in Bologna (1969) she is a contemporary art and comics exhibition curator, comics scripter, and school principal. She lives in Ravenna with her partner Gianluca Costantini. She curated exhibitions about several Italian and international comics writers, in Italy and abroad. In particular she curated the only exhibition of Marjane Satrapi’s original works entitled Marjane Satrapi ovvero dell’ironia dell’Iran (2005) and Joe Sacco’s travelling exhibition Nuvole da oltre frontiera.

She directed and conceptualised the Komikazen International Reality Comics Festival (2005 – 2015) that introduced and promoted graphic journalism and graphic activism in Italy. She has collaborated with several magazines including Linus, Pagina 99, EastWest, Internazionale, Le Monde Diplomatique. She is member of the editorial staff of InguineMAH!gazine, a historical periodical of underground Italian culture that has published comics by authors from all over the world, including the only comics by Blu and Ericailcane,  with Gianluca Costantini e Marco Lobietti, she co-curated G.I.U.D.A. Geographical Institute of Unconventional Drawing Art editorial project. Since 2004 she has been artistic director of the Romagna young artists biennale. She is the author of the comic scripts of the following graphic novels: L’ammaestratore di Istanbul (Comma 22, 2008 – Ristampa Giuda edizioni 2013, translated in English as The Turtle Tamer of Istanbul for the VandaPublishing e-book), Officina del macello (Edizioni del Vento, 2008 – Ristampa di Eris Edizioni 2014), A cena con Gramsci (BeccoGiallo 2012), Arrivederci Berlinguer (Becco giallo 2013), Pertini tra le nuvole (Becco giallo 2014), Diario segreto di Pasolini (Becco giallo 2015), all with Gianluca Costantini’s drawings. Piccola Gerusalemme, with drawings by Angelo Mennillo (published in Greek, Turkish and French. The Italian edition is by Mesogea edizioni 2018).  Stamboulis has always paired her writing and curating activity with her work as school principal at the Arts and Music Highschool of Forlì.

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