Artists attacked in Istanbul

Via the Submitterator, Boing Boing friend Doug Rushkoff writes:

My friend and occasional collaborator, technology artist Burak Arikan, writes from Istanbul that he, the artists, and guests at galleries in the Tophane district of Istanbul were systematically attacked by thugs last week. According to Burak, there was blood "everywhere." From the press release prepared by the beaten artists:

"In an organized attack on art galleries in the Tophane neighbourhood of Istanbul, guests attending exhibition openings were physically assaulted in a lynch attempt by a gang of 40-50 people. The audience subjected to this atmosphere of total terror featured artists, academicians, students, writers, local and international journalists and cultural attaches from consulates. The attackers used knives, batons, broken bottles and pepper spray. The injured include Polish, Dutch, German and English guests."

Burak adds:

"International support is urgent to enable the security in the Tophane district in Istanbul. The international visibility creates the chain pressure starting from the head of the government, which puts pressure on the mayor, which then affects the local police to investigate the criminal gang. Then hopefully we have a viable security in the district. Our press release is a collective effort, a statement from the Tophane art community."

Now this all leaves us with the obvious question: why are the galleries of this section of Istanbul being attacked by small armed gangs? No one is quite sure. Some say it is loosely organized conservative radicals, others say it's state-sponsored terror against the emergence of a potentially counter-culturally inclined community.

The works itself, such as Burak's piece entitled "When Ideas Become Crime," appear innocuous enough. Then again, when ideas become crime, no one is safe.

Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and author. His new book, Program or Be Programmed, is being published this week by Or Books.