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Erdem Çolak

Speakers’ Corner, 2020

Many writers, journalists, artists, intellectuals and academics from all corners of the world seesaw between exercising the right to freedom of speech and the fear of being punished or censored due to what they express. In most cases the latter overweighs and this double bind mostly ends in self-censorship, leaving the public sphere with less and less critical voices.

‘Speakers’ Corner’ is an interactive installation that transforms the relationship between the speaker and the audience, and draws attention to the difficulty of preserving the freedom of speech. The installation presents its speakers behind bars as if they are already being punished for what they will say. ‘Speakers’ Corner’ calls for solidarity with the people who are imprisoned because they exercised their right to freedom of speech. It emphasizes the value of criticism, especially when expressed under the threat of pressure and punishment.

Photos: Annie van der Werff

Erdem Çolak (1989, TR) is an artist and a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Political Science from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara and the University of Birmingham, the UK, respectively. By force of his academic career, he has lived in Turkey, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. After having worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for several magazines, and having performed as a professional musician for many years, he focused his artistic practice on visual art. His recent shows include Truly Essentials (No Man’s Art Gallery, Amsterdam) and Summer Exhibition (Galerie Mia Joosten, Amsterdam).