A Childhood Tale From The Dark

Photo by Hamdi Atay

Video and photography installation
19 minutes, 30 seconds
In collaboration with Berivan Işık

For her* work entitled a chilhood tale from the dark, Leman S. Darıcıoğlu launched through her* social media accounts, an open call for collaboration to women or LGBTI+ tattoo artists of Kurdish origin. This is how the artist produced their work with Berivan Işık, one of the Kurdish women tattoo artists who responded to their call. She* asked for a handwritten tattoo on her* body of a Kurdish sentence Işık could remember from the tales and stories that have been told by her elders or the dreams she had during her childhood. During the performance, Darıcıoğlu did not intervene on the choice of the sentence nor the placement of the tattoo as she* surrender her* back to Işık.

Stemming from the Iranian myth of Kaveh the Blacksmith, Işık chose the following sentence: “Bi mirine ye qrale zordar bihar cardin hat!”. It means that “Spring came only when the tyrant king died!” The story of Kaveh the Blacksmith – referred as a symbol of the Kurdish fight for freedom – is about a ruthless King named Zahhak; he forced his people to bring children to his castle in order to feed his wild animals and snakes with children brains. By causing death to children he also prevented the arrival of spring. Someday, people of the country has started to contravene the foreign rule by starting to send lamb brains instead of child brains. At the same time, they were smuggling their children to a safer place and training them to fight. When the King found out the truth, he became even more ruthless and ordered his soldiers to bring him the children’s brains themselves. In a village nearby to Zahhak’s castle, there was a blacksmith called Kaveh; who had already sacrificed seven of his eight children. When he had to send his last child to Zahhak, he decided to revolt against the rule and encouraged people to join a rebellion against the King. In the leadership of Kaveh, the people and their children trained as fighters, fought against Zahhak. They killed him and set his castle up on fire. It is said that this revolt and liberation which brought spring to the land occurred on the 21stof March. This is also the story both behind the Newroz ritual and behind the references of Kurdish liberation movement.

During the foundation of the Turkish Republic, rather than establishing a national identity that would embrace cultural diversity and diverse ethnic identities in the country, the state chose to build a national identity based on nationalism with the notions of “Tek millet, tek dil, tek vatan.” [“One country, one language, one nation.”] Since then, the development of hegemonic ideologies and similar forms of national identity politics in Turkey, has caused several oppressions, violence and discrimination towards various ethnic groups – having a different culture and language. Since the 80s, the Kurdish-Turkish conflict that led to ‘unofficial’ civil war is still existing and there is still oppression, violence and discrimination against Kurds and their mother language is still not recognized on constitutional level.

a childhood tale from the dark aims to call attention both to the history and story of Kurdish people with an emphasis on the colonial side of the story through the focus on the mother language issue. By surrendering her*self to a Kurdish origined woman’s hands and letting Işık making a permanent tattoo of a Kurdish sentence – a language that was forbidden to use legally until the early 90’s and still not recognized as a national language –, the artist turns her* body into a ‘space’ of free expression and a ‘canvas’ for those who were kept in the dark. The tattoo artist uses the artist body by making a permanent mark in order to make a space to reveal what is hidden and instead of using slogans that became common tools of nowadays political discourses and movements, she* take a reference from the childhood stories.