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Cambridge Dictionary defines officialese as “the type of language, often used in government documents, that is formal and often difficult to understand”. For me, officialese stands for a language shield built to protect the status quo. 

status quo
statü ko
the way things are
mevcut durum

the way things are
mevcut durum
called, officially.
the way official languages create violence,
assimilate, discriminate against the speakers of the non-
the official and the non-
the everlasting binary

violence and non-violence
non-violent public space

non-violent public space
İstiklal Caddesi
İstiklal Avenue, İstanbul
istiklal, freedom, independence, liberty

A walk from Taksim Gezi Park to Tünel


Reading The Force of Non-Violence by Judith Butler, we imagined how a non-violent public space would sound and look like.

… when the world presents as a force field of violence, the task of nonviolence is to find ways of living and acting in that world such that violence is checked or ameliorated, or its direction turned, precisely at moments when it seems to saturate that world and offer no way out. The body can be the vector of that turn, but so too can discourse, collective practices, infrastructures, and institutions.

Judith Butler (2020). The Force of Non-Violence. Verso Books. page: 10

the body and discourse to find a way out
walking collectively, sharing the personal in public
walking from Taksim Gezi Park to Tünel
reading Judith Butler while listening to the sounds of İstiklal

… the ethical stand of nonviolence has to be linked to a commitment to radical equality. And more specifically, the practice of nonviolence requires an opposition to biopolitical forms of racism and war logics that regularly distinguish lives worth safeguarding from those that are not – populations conceived as collateral damage, or as obstructions to policy and military aims. Further, we have to consider how a tacit war logic enters into the biopolitical management of populations: if the migrants come, they will destroy us, or they will destroy culture, or they will destroy Europe or the UK. This conviction then licences violent destruction – or the slower death-in-life of detention camps – against the population that is phantasmatically construed as the locus of destruction. According to that war logic, it is a matter of choosing between the lives of refugees and the lives of those who claim the right to be defended against the refugees. In such instances, a racist and paranoid version of self-defence authorizes the destruction of another population.

Judith Butler (2020). The Force of Non-Violence. Verso Books. page: 62

the migrants will destroy Turkey. 1928
the migrants will destroy Turkish
citizen, speak Turkish
all competent authorities
the migrants will destroy the UK
the migrants will destroy Switzerland

Contemporary European racism perhaps takes different forms, but the efforts to block migrants to Europe are in part rooted in the desire to keep Europe white, to safeguard a nationality that is imagined to be pure. It hardly matters that Europe has never been exclusively white, since the idea of European whiteness is a fantasy that seeks to be realized at the expense of a living population that includes people from North Africa, Turkey, and the Middle East. … The thousands of migrants who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean are precisely lives that are not deemed worthy of safeguarding. Those waters are monitored for the purposes of trade and maritime safety; there is often cell coverage. So, how many countries have to disavow responsibility in order for those people to be left to die? Even if we could track the decision not to send help to boats in distress to this or that functionary from a European government, we would not quite grasp the large-scale policy that effectively lets populations die, that would rather let them die than let them in. On the one hand, these are decisions, and we can track who is accountable for deciding in this way; on the other hand, the metric of grievability is built into these decisions in such a way that migrant populations are ungrievable from the start. We cannot lose those who cannot be grieved. They are treated as beyond losing, already lost, never living, never having been entitled to life.

Judith Butler (2020). The Force of Non-Violence. Verso Books. page: 120-121

all competent authorities
vatandaş, türkçe konuş
citizen, speak turkish

A walk from Tünel to Taksim Gezi Park

How do you feel?
Emotional. I wasn’t. I’ve had. I’m grateful. I feel drawn. I felt distracted. 

Songs playing along the walk.
Censorship lingered in the beginning. As I listened to the walk towards Taksim Gezi Park I was thinking about the way Zoom’s sound processor determines what sound to filter and what sound to keep - the sounds on the street seem to fight to pass through the filter. Admittedly this makes/made me frustrated, and then in turn elated when I caught the violin/string instrument being played loud and clear, as if it was shouting joy loud enough to surpass the censorship. And then looping back to where “censorship” first occurs, it is in the context of a group of people protesting censorship - but it lingered in this context for me as a state/media portrayal as protest as “mob”, or protestors as “violent”, or protest as “terrorism”, which is a further censorship of (non-violent) purpose and a sure-fire way to censor the message of the protestors. So the little voices that come through the digitized silence make me think of what I’m missing, what’s being held from me based on my position in relation to the site I’m accessing (remotely, digitally, via zoom, via bluetooth headphone speakers or similar.
I am thinking about the relation between the words, violence, self and self defense. On what forms of violence are permissable and grievability, on the apportion, distribution and narratives that construct the value of a life. It makes me think about the state, the market, and the sanctioned forms of violence that we are allowed to do to ourselves, to work to levels of illness, that harm ourselves physically, emotionally, socially and psychically. That we have permissable forms of violence that the law protects, and labour laws and economic conditions which at the same time allow us to routinely commit a violence to ourselves, to not permit us to act in defense, of our selves, our lives, and to value our time.

all competent authorities
vatandaş, türkçe konuş
citizen, speak turkish
Граѓанин, зборувај Турски!

face recognition: bizden değilsin

“Citizen, Speak Turkish!” campaign ... promoted the speaking of the Turkish language in public. The campaign aimed to eradicate the public visibility and audibility of non-Turkish languages and it was one of the important initiatives of the Turkification attempts in the early years of the Turkish Republic. This campaign demonstrates that it is not the state alone that defines and promotes a national identity, but social actors outside the state also actively contribute to the creation and dissemination of this identity in tense alliances with the state.

Senem Aslan (2007) “Citizen, Speak Turkish!”: A Nation in the Making, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 13:2, 245-272, DOI: 10.1080/13537110701293500

ailemi anadilinden ayıran benim anadilim

1928, İzmir
1955-1960, İzmir

Even with the most autobiographical details included, the second a story moves from the mind to the page, through the filters of memory and language, it becomes –however personal – fiction.

Olivia Sudjic (2018). Exposure. Peninsula Press. Page: 97

kendi deneyiminden yola çıkar, yolunun kesiştiği kişilerin anlatıları ile zenginleşir.


Begin to doubt the Wet. Why would I want this stuff made public?
An old stumble: exposing the abject.
This temptation goes way back.

Moyra Davey (2020). Index Cards. Fitzcarraldo Editions. Page: 27
As the last sentence of the section, add
[The name of the work] is an autofiction
No punctuation as in Moyra Davey’s Fifty Minutes is a work of autofiction

This installation is based on real events.
This installation is a work of autofiction

officialese explores the ways in which official languages become a tool to protect the ways things are. The work looks at how official languages create violence, assimilate and discriminate against the speakers of non-official languages. The installation presents a work-in-progress research based on real and fictional uses of official languages, in state and social level, in and outside the artworlds.

The installation at Kunstraum ZHDK presents notes, readings, annotations and images from the officialese lab and its collaborators. The documentation of the research and in-situ contributions are presented online at as they happen between November 26th – December 6th, 2022. Following the exhibition, there will be a publication about the personal, anonymous and collective stories shared throughout the research.

As part of IF IT IS A GARDEN THAT HAS BECOME A WILDERNESS by the School of Commons.

officialese is based on real events
officialese is a work of autofiction

Resmi dillerin devlet ve toplum aracılığıyla ürettiği şiddeti inceler.

To be born at all is to be situated in a network of relations with other people, and furthermore to find oneself forcibly inserted into linguistic categories that might seem natural and inevitable but are socially constructed and rigorously policed. We’re all stuck in our bodies, meaning stuck inside a grid of conflicting ideas about what those bodies mean, what they’re capable of and what they’re allowed or forbidden to do. We’re not just individuals, hungry and mortal, but also representative types, subject to expectations, demands, prohibitions and punishments that vary enormously according to the kind of body we find ourselves inhabiting. Freedom isn’t simply a matter of indulging all material cravings, Sade-style. It’s also about finding ways to live without being hampered, hobbled, damaged or actively destroyed by a constant reinforcement of ideas about what is permitted for the category of body to which you’ve been assigned.

Olivia Laing (2021). Everybody, A Book About Freedom. Picador. Page: 179

Hello, my name is Betül. Hah, no, not me too. Oh no, not beetroot, Betül. Oh no no no, not meth, Betül

everything the letter ü had to go through
somewhere in between the banality of the evil (Hannah Arendt) and the force of non-violence (Judith Butler)

In 1928 a local newspaper of Izmir in Turkey wrote: “Citizen, do not make friends with or shop from those so-called Turkish citizens who do not speak Turkish.

Senem Aslan (2007) “Citizen, Speak Turkish!”: A Nation in the Making, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 13:2, 245-272, DOI: 10.1080/13537110701293500

1928. Around 30 years before my gradparents immigrated to İzmir
from Gorno Vranovci, Yugoslavia, in today’s North Macedonia
Yugoslavia, Macedonia, North Macedonia
Ottoman Empire, Republic of Turkey

a local newspaper
social actors supporting the state 

Ben burdayım, tarih nerde?
Bir yerde kabul görme ya da görmemenin ne gibi tanımlar üzerinden gerçekleştiğini

If silence equals death, he taught us, then art equals language equals life.

Olivia Laing (2020). Funny Weather, Art in an Emergency. Picador. Page: 77
he, David Wojnarowicz

Güneşi farklı şehirlerde batırdığım günlerde
hissettiklerim, gördüklerim, dinlediklerim, okuduklarım, deneyimlediklerimin her biri kural-dışı bir pencereden içeri girip döngüsel bir ışık altında birleşti.

this page is being developed between 26.11.2022 - 06.12.2022, scroll now and also come back later