Photo by Besire Paralik

Public intervention in Kotti, Kreuzberg
Stitching on Fabric with Evil Eyes Beads
75 x 100 cm

“İbne” means “faggot” in the Turkish language. Its etymologic root comes from the Arabic word “ibn”, which means boy or son. The feminizing suffix “-e” attributes a humiliating meaning for manhood. The same word used for referring the men loving/having sexual contact with other men since the 19th century, the earliest usage traced back in written sources for the first time in Middle East. Today it is known as a common derogatory used to insult all Queer people, though its first connotation is male Homosexual. To be able to fight against the pejorative usage of the word, it has been actively reclaimed by the Turkish-speaking Queer community, as one can hear it often in the Pride-Week slogans as well as in LGBTI+ activism in general.

This reclaim is similar to how the word “Queer” has been recuperated by LGBTI+ people of the U.S. in the middle of their fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 90s generated by heteropatriarchy. Therefore, it reversed the flow of the history of “Queerness” that gradually became a positioning towards norms (primarily focused on body politics) and an expression of identity.

Photo by Derin Cankaya

İBNE is an artwork that depicts a stitch-writing of the word “ibne” on a fabric for which used approximately 700 “Evil Eyes”. The evil eye is a blue glass bead in the shape of an eye, mostly used in the Middle East region to protect one who carries it from the evil eye. The work is a greeting towards the Turkish-speaking Queer community and an appreciation of their presence in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Kreuzberg has been home for Turkish-speaking migrants since the early 60s and still holds a remarkable number of Turkish-speaking population, including Turkish-speaking Queers. Reflecting on the reality of Turkey, a country full of contrasts, Kreuzberg also brings extremely various groups and standpoints together. Today, in a street of Kreuzberg, we can hear “ibne” both as a derogatory and as a celebration of identity by Turkish-speaking Queer people, all there side by side.

Placed on a building façade, where the artwork Am Haus has installed from a Turkish-speaking contemporary artist Ayşe Erkmen, İBNE may be open to interpretations as an act of gratitude to and as a totemic protector for Turkish-speaking Queer people who have been building space for all non-Western LGBTI+ people around Kreuzberg over the years. Variant forms of the Turkish past tense suffix “-mişler, -muşlar” of Am Haus serves for İBNE a critical point towards “straight ideology”. Besides being the tense of storytelling of the Turkish language, this specific tense is also used when you are talking behind someone’s back. Therefore, through this specific placement, İBNE refers to the act of gossiping about Queerness to target and humiliate LGBTI+ people.

Photo by Derin Cankaya

PS.: İBNE needed to be taken down in the next day it was installed. Leman Sevda Darıcıoğlu wrote an announcement text to share her* intentions, aims and references as well as the story of how it intervented to its public, the text is now linked to a QR code which is spread to Berlin streets by November 2020.

You can see the text linked to the QR code from the link below: