08/10/2019 | Writer: Gözde Demirbilek

On the last day of the International Memory and History Conference, gendered places and queer spaces were discussed.

From visibility to forming memory: Queering the space Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

On the last day of the International Memory and History Conference, gendered places and queer spaces were discussed.

The third session of the last day of the International Memory and History Conference organized by Kaos GL Association was moderated by Ali Erol of Kaos GL and presentations of Burkay Pasin with the title "Queer space: Changing paradigms, contradictions and possibilities" and Melek Göregenli, "The genderification of the space and the control of gender and sexuality through space".

From magazine cover to anonymous slogan

Ali Erol said, "Bans in Ankara produces different emotions, this event has made me feel them. We don't have to agree on everything to be together. The fact that we have come together in Izmir, not Ankara, has a great relevance to the current conditions of spaces", adding that in 96, how did the saying "We want the whole city', not the gay ghettos" that appeared on the cover of Kaos GL magazine became an anonymous slogan for the whole LGBTI+ movement in Turkey and left the floor to Burkay Pasin.

Closets of the city and getting out of the closet

Burkay Pasin began their speech by expressing a requirement for the analysis of the concept of "queer space":

"Queer space is a concept that needs to be read and analyzed in a very disciplinary context, free from the disciplinary hegemony of architecture and the urban paradigms in which it reflects"

Pasin continued their speech by underlining the lack of contemporary studies on queer space and the mostly marginalization of it within the mainstream Western architectural literature, and its inevitable invisibility.

"In scientific literature, two types of theoretical approaches to queer space emerged. Modernist Euro-American approach tends to see queer space as ghettos defined for specific functions. Following this approach, researchers mainly adhere to the closet metaphor of American critical theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and the body-power epistemology of the French philosopher Michel Foucault. In this context, they see queer space as urban closets where marginalized individuals take refuge from heteronormative social structure because of their sexual orientation."

"Some of the studies that follow this approach prefer to see urban public spaces such as saunas, public baths, bars, cinemas, and parks, which are frequently used by male gay individuals in the queer space category."

“Spaces are transformable, queer space can be created”

The second speaker, Melek Göregenli began their remarks by defining memory:

"What we call memory is not about the past, it is a continous notion. It's about the present and the future. What is queer space? It's your home, it's a queer space where you can sit comfortably. Even if solid material is used, it can be converted due to the structure of space. That's why we need to demand flexible spaces so that they can transform more easily."

In their speech, Göregenli underlined the need to focus on the capacity of each place to be queered:

"The spaces are formed as the décor of a culture when it is created. Our relationship with spaces is a context in which spaces and people transform each other. My opinion is this: No space is a queer space by its very nature. Those ghettos aren't queers either. For example Ülker Street, Bornova (Azra Has) Street. There was a time these could be perceived as queer places but now? Could it be a queer place when it's hollowed out? But a cortege formed by people claiming their sexual orientation and gender identity rights is a queer space. I think we should be aware of our capacity for queering any place."

*Photography: Semih Varol / Kaos GL
**Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz

Tags: arts and culture, life