the fact that i am a kurdish, queer, immigrant artist constantly reminds me that my existing identities are in conflict and that i have to struggle with. these conflict situations that i experience inside me are constantly at a point where i need to protect and make them visible. my kurdishness, my queerness and being an immigrant, each of them comes across with different experiences. i think that using my artist identity to create and make visible works on these identities makes me strong at this point. identities, conflicts, borders, struggles, forms of political existence, and i also try to deconstruct my feelings as a defensive dynamic between my works and my identities.
– Ciwan Veysel
About the artist
Ciwan Veysel is a Turkey-born visual artist who lives and works in Austria. He opened his first solo exhibition in Berlin in 2018 and his second one in Vienna in 2021. Through the connection between art and identity, the artist’s production deals with political memory issues such as immigration and diaspora, social memory, Queer struggle, borders, and the political subjectivity of Kurdish identity. Ciwan also continues with photography, curating and performance at artist collectives and art festivals created by Vienna-based immigrant artists.
Black Queer Bodies Are a Protest
Since the beginning of the Stonewall riots in the USA, black queer and trans bodies have always been at the forefront of riots to protect LGBTQ+ community rights and against government and police violence. The systematic exposure of black queers to racism, homophobia and transphobia in Western societies is still an important problem of the racist dynamic today. The photo series Black Queer Bodies Are a Protest aims to reflect the healing power of the LGBTQ+ community together, how important it is to have spaces of solidarity and the existence of black queer bodies as an existential political stance and its visibility through art.
Queerdistan is a photo/story project by Kurdish artist Ciwan Veysel living in Vienna, that focuses on the systematic racist, homophobic, transphobic and discriminatory experiences of Kurdish LGBTQIA+ individuals who were born in Austria or migrated to Austria and tries to make these struggles visible. The project targets Kurdish LGBTQIA+ individuals and enables them to address issues such as attitudes towards immigrants, integration issues, and visibility of their identity through the artistic practices of photography and storytelling. Kurdish LGBTQIA+ individuals living in Austria were severely affected by the pandemic. Queerdistan shows what it means for them to live as Kurdish LGBTQIA+ persons in the Austrian society, how they develop methods to cope with these problems and talk about how they want to shape their own future in Austria. Queerdistan represents on the one hand the connection of the artist Ciwan Veysel, who lives in Austria, with his own identity and on the other hand wants to focus on the queer Kurdish community.
JÎN* in Diaspora
JÎN* in Diaspora is a collaboration between young Kurdish migrants from Vienna. The lives of women*, lesbian*s, intersex, non-binary and trans people in the Kurdish diaspora are characterised by multi-layered mechanisms of oppression and conflicting expectations in the process of finding identity. Migrant. Minority. Exotic female* fighter. Kurd. FLINT*. These identities are political and manifest complex power dynamics. This project tackles expectations posed from the outside and personal experiences between the here and there, the inside and the outside, in the framework of a podcast series and a performance. Therefore, contemporary dance, rap and slam poetry flow together with traditional stylistic devices such as Denbêj. Dêngbej’s aesthetic form resembles rap and slam poetry respectively and created an epic tradition in the sense of oral history located in the Kurdish regions of Turkey’s east. Hence a collective memory came into being that simultaneously was a form of resistance. This tradition is reinterpreted in the context of JÎN* in Diaspora by processing individual and collective experiences.