silivri. prison of thoughts
Installation by Can Dündar
Garden, Gorki Theatre
Silivri, the high-security men’s prison outside Istanbul, is more than a prison. It is a symbol, not only for the precarious situation of critical thinkers in authoritarian systems, but also for their fighting spirit which is nearly impossible to break. After all, thinking continues behind walls. Numerous journalists, intellectuals and human rights activists are held in Silivri, which is known as the »largest journalists’ prison in the world«. The renowned journalist Can Dündar, former editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, also served time there.
Living in exile in Berlin, Dündar creates an abstracted, nearly true-to-scale reproduction of a cell – a room 3.94 meters by 3.71 meters, cramped and hostile to life. The cell, designed by Shahrzad Rahmani as a free-standing, transparent object, references more than the individual fate of the occupant. In addition to well-known prisoners such as Ahman Altan, Osman Kavala, Peter Steudtner and Deniz Yücel, countless other intellectuals were, and are, held in cells of this kind. silivri. prison of thoughts confronts visitors with a political reality in which journalists, artists and human rights activists are imprisoned for their work, their art, their words, their thoughts.
»What you see is not merely a prison cell, but rather a miniature of Turkey, the largest journalists’ prison in the world« (Can Dündar).
Open to the public when pandemic-related restrictions are lifted
[Image Credits: Can Dündar/© Milena Schlösser]