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Artists’ Exchange

Gizem Aksu

Choreographer, dancer, ex-academic and activist
• Coexistence in modern day Europe

This project strand offers short residency opportunities in partner cities for 30 emerging artists. Each UEO city partner will send two artists on a residency to another partner’s city of a different art form, thereby seeking to enrich their professional practice through inter-disciplinary residencies. Artists are chosen on the basis of having demonstrated an interest in the hosting city’s Arts & Society contemporary European theme. They must also practice a different art form from that of the hosting city’s public event. The project offers the emerging artists the opportunity to travel without the pressure to produce work and ideally to experience UEO’s public events.

Gizem Aksu will travel to Leeuwarden

Istanbul’s other artist Cenal Unal Hopkins will travel to Berlin

Artist’s Statement

Due to my background in political science and dance studies and ongoing volunteer involvement in queer and feminist movements, I approach the body as a collective and relational process. Choreography is a constant act of excavation to find and reveal certain relations embedded in societal and historical bodies and it is a technology of inspirations to sign and signal other relations. In the context of my recent artistic inquiry and creations I strongly feel connected to the urgent priorities in contemporary European society underlined by the organisers of this project; especially to ‘enrichment through immigration’, ‘our creative dialogue with the dead’, ‘The future–a female vision’.

With this residency, I would like to contribute to a progressive environment of understanding, standing-with and empowerment in the context of gender equality, diversity and freedom through a site- specific visual work which will be distilled from the encounters and exchanges in Leeuwarden. I would like to apply choreographical strategies through performative lenses in order to produce this visual work. The concepts of an ‘archive of feelings’ and ‘public feelings’ by Ann Cvetkovich will provide a contextual framework for it. I have never been in Leeuwarden. I believe its stance for LGBTQ+ representation and its strong link to literature will inspire me to find unexpected ways of feeding feminist and queer perspectives and presences in Leeuwarden. With this opportunity, I would like to meet and connect deeper to the visions ULYSSES: European Odyssey cultivates; in addition to my artistic involvement in Istanbul part.

Artist’s Biography

Gizem Aksu is an independent choreographer, dancer, ex-academic and activist from Istanbul, currently living in Berlin. She first graduated from the Department of Political Science & International Relations, Boğaziçi University and then from the Department of Contemporary Dance, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University with and honours degree. She completed her MFA and her Proficiency in Arts and gained her doctorate. Her artistic language has expanded into a broader canvas including installation, film and text. She prefers to include this expanded canvas in the realm of choreography. In 2022 her film 9/8 Fight for All was screened at the Documentarist Film Festival in Istanbul and won the Jury’s Special Award. The film also won the Best Short Film Award at the International Festival of Romani Film in Berlin, 2022.

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