Gelibolu: an exhibition

“We don’t call it Gallipoli,” says a Turkish Australian woman, when asked about the importance of the Battle of Gallipoli.

“It’s Gelibolu. It’s Çanakkale for us.”

It’s these words that sum up the significance of the exhibition Gelibolu, which showcases, through contemporary art, a Turkish-Australian perspective of Anzac Day and the battle of Gallipoli.

But it’s titled Gelibolu, and for good reason.

One of the exhibition’s three curators, Juliette Hanson, says bringing the Turkish word of the infamous peninsula into public view fulfills its main objective.

“It is a clear yet subtle reminder,” she says, “that events, places and histories can be very different depending on who is telling the tale.”

And here, the tale is told by Turkish Australians, many of who have called Australia home for almost 50 years.

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Gelibolu opens on 18th of March, which is the date that Turkey celebrates its victory in the Allies’ attack of Çanakkale.

“It’s important that visitors to this exhibition see all sides to the war,” says Deniz Günal, one of the three curators of the exhibition.

The Turkish and Turkish-Australian perspectives are explored through contemporary art, film, poetry and historical narratives.

“A war may be fought between people that in any other situation, could be the strongest and closest of friends,” Günal says.

“How can we change those hostile feelings people may hold to other nations and its people? Searching for an answer to this question should perhaps be the most important outcome of this exhibition.”

And there’s no better way to address that question than through art.

“[Art] can cause a subversion of popular belief through the expression of personal narratives,” says co-curator, Juliette Hanson.

“It can blend the personal with the political, the traditional with the new, and the symbolic with the experiential, all of which are vital contrasts within the landscape of this year’s shared commemoration.”

“Art,” she says, “has always been a powerful tool in reframing history.”

Ultimately, it’s hoped this exhibition is a learning experience for visitors.

“I would like Gelibolu to enable audiences to find their own strength of meaning to these events,” says co-curator Nilgün Güven.

“And perhaps change or grow something that better reflect themselves and their connection to others, there and then, and into the future.”

Gelibolu runs from 18 March to 25 April at the No Vacancy Gallery in Melbourne. 

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