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Learning & mobility

Reflections on our Diyarbakır visit

By Veli Mert

VAHA’s Mersin Hub participant Veli Mert from D5 Art Environment visited Diyarbakır in November 2021 with the support of VAHA’s Learning & Mobility Grant.* In this story, Veli shares his thoughts and emotions from his travel to Diyarbakır.

First, I must note that three subsequent events – the opening of my solo exhibition, which is the output of my three-year work within a longer process of six years, and two VAHA events (Scale-up Meeting in Çıralı, Antalya and our programme in Diyarbakır) - have strengthen my hopes for future.

Our Diyarbakır visit was initially planned for the Phase 1 of VAHA programme, however we could not realize it due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our goal was to join the opening of Merkezkaç Art Collective’s “Living Space, Living Exhibition”; get acquainted with the art circles and collectives in Diyarbakır, Mardin and Batman; and make plans for potential collaborations in the future. We organised the first event of “Project Vision” series, as a collaboration of D5 Art Environment and Merkezkaç Art Collective, aiming to set a vision for future projects. The efforts by Merkezkaç Art Collective and Remzi Sever were very helpful for the facilitation of this event. I would also like to offer my special thanks to Savaş Işık from Mordem for his hospitality. 

When I and Ahmet Karabulak, the founder of Mersin Art Collectives, were planning this travel, we thought it would be meaningful that Bengisu Muazzez Kurtuluş, the founder of Kurbağa Art Space, Kutu Women’s Collective and Çekirdek Collective (mostly working on ecology and environment), joins us during this visit. We arrived in Diyarbakır in the evening of 26 November 2021.

On Saturday 27 November, we started our meeting schedule which is shown in the poster below. We paid a visit to KASED (Women’s Art Association) following the suggestion by Neşe Toprak, a former student of mine from Mersin University Fine Arts Faculty. Then, we visited Mordem, Wêjegeh Amed, a4 Open Art Space, Lîs Publishing House, Merkezkaç Art Space, as well as the opening of Merkezkaç’s exhibition.

Project Vision 1 poster

On Sunday 28 November, we explored the city, mainly Sur district. We visited Ahmet Güneştekin’s exhibition. In the afternoon, we, as D5 Art Environment (Veli Mert), Mersin Art Collectives (Ahmet Karabulak) and Çekirdek Collective (Bengisu Muazzez Kurtuluş), made our presentations on the activities we hold in Mersin as part of the “Project Vision 1”. We exchanged with our fellow artists from Diyarbakır, Mardin and Batman art circles over future projects.

Our suggestions as Mersin art circles were:
  • sharing our programmes for future,
  • organising common activities,
  • opening space for these three cities in our activities,
  • including other cities (Adana, Hatay and Gaziantep) in our common activities,
  • planning projects for the exchange of young artists,
  • supporting collectives from these cities that are planning to organise activities in Mersin,
  • organising “Project Vision 2” event in Mersin as soon as possible.

These suggestions were supported by the meeting participants. We left Diyarbakır on the same day with pleasant emotions and thoughts.

We are very much impressed by the artistic atmosphere of Diyarbakır; we found it quite dynamic and exciting. Warm regards to everyone who made this visit possible…

Text and photos by Veli Mert

Translated from Turkish by Veli Başyiğit - from VAHA Coordination Team

*The Learning & Mobility Grant aims to foster knowledge and practice exchange among VAHA participants.