The British born artist Michael Dickinson may face up to three years in prison for displaying a collage of the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a dog.
The work is called “Best in Show” and was confiscated by police and the artist has been detained. It shows President Bush awarding the Turkish Prime Minister with a ribbon at a dog show.
Michael Dickinson has been charged with “insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister” after he refused to take the work down.
The artist has said “It’s such an Alice in Wonderland feeling. The law is so absurd.. This law exists in Turkey about insulting ‘Turkishness’ or the State. You’re not allowed to state your opinion.”
I think freedom is relative. Perhaps I take freedom for granted, or maybe I just don’t like poking sticks at hornet’s nests, but if I was an artist working in Turkey, I would be the least political or controversial artist alive! I also don’t like mixing art and politics anyway, so it wouldn’t be much of a compromise.
Michael Dickinson probably hasn’t seen the movie Midnight Express. (I know it was made in the seventies and it is just a movie, but it’s still pretty scary).
I do feel for the guy though, and think it’s sad that such a thing could still happen. I’m sure it can’t help with Turkey’s attempts to join the European Union.
Here’s plenty more information about the issue with links to ther source over at the Stuckism website or the Times or the Guardian. Here’s some cool Turkish Artists that I mentioned previously.