A multimedia installation by Caglar Kimyoncu exploring the politics of compulsory military service. Produced by disabled-led digital art agency filmpro, the work will show at the Old Truman Brewery, London from 2 May.
A four-channel video installation presents individuals who meet at a military hospital - three subjects under assessment and their doctor. Character and stories emerge through the imposed intimacy of the hospital ward to create a compelling, thought-provoking and dramatic installation.
Building on first-hand research and interviews with people who have direct experience of conscription and conscientious objection, the narrative is based on circumstances in Turkey but deals with the subject in a universal, global way.
The installation sites the filmed material and multiple soundtracks in a military hospital room reconstructed within the Old Truman Brewery exhibition space, making the visitor feel like an unseen protagonist.
Complementing the exhibition is a series of events in the surrounding space whose aim is to raise awareness around the politics of compulsory military service, including a panel discussion on 15 May - the International Day of Conscientious Objection.
There are at least thirty countries that still have conscription. Conscription is controversial because of conscientious objection to service or because of political objection to service for a disliked government or an unpopular war, and because it violates individual rights. Those conscripted may evade service, sometimes by leaving the country.
Turkey does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for conscripts. Article 72 of the Turkish constitution states: “National service is the right and duty of every Turk. The manner in which this service shall be performed, or considered as performed, either in the Armed Forces or in public service, shall be regulated by law”. This in principle would allow for a non-military alternative. However, Turkish law does not provide for this.
Conscription in the United Kingdom has existed for two periods in modern times. The first was from 1916 to 1919, the second was from 1939 to 1960, with the last conscripted soldiers leaving the service in 1963. During World War I and World War II, it was known as War Service or Military Service. From 1948 it was known as National Service.
The UK was the first country to legislate for recognition of conscientious objection, resulting in the Military Service Act 1916. However, neither the 1916 Act nor the Second World War legislation which followed it provided relief to an individual who initially volunteered or accepted call-up but then changed his mind on grounds of conscience.
filmpro ltd is a disabled-led digital art agency, supporting artists who experience exclusion, particularly disabled artists, by providing services ranging from advice and mentoring through to production and project management. filmpro's mission is to extend the ways of making and experiencing film and digital art, and the diversity and openness of the arts sector.
Caglar Kimyoncu is a digital and video artist as well as curator and arts consultant. His previous film, IMC, explored power and sexual dynamics within a hospital setting. In the past fifteen years, he has collaborated with artists in a variety of media, including film and video production, website design, theatre scenography, video and photo documentary, and script development.
Venue: Old Truman Brewery, 4 Wilkes Street, London, E1 6QF
Dates: Thursday 2 May – Sunday 18 May 2013
Opening times: Tues – Sun, 11am – 6pm / Fri 11am – 8pm
Part of the Whitechapel Gallery's ‘First Thursdays’ - 2 May 2013
For more information please go to www.caglark.com/conscription