Daily Obscene Secrets (play)
Artist: Marco Antonio de la Parra
Date of Action: April-May 2012
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul; Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey
Description of Artwork: The play centers on Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud as they fight over a park bench across from a private girl's school. The two men are set upon flashing the girls as they walk by. A political comedy, the work challenges the values and practices of Chile's military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, and contains both strong language and nudity.
The Incident: After a run of performances staged at the state-run theater in Istanbul, public criticism of the show's "vulgarity" led the Mayor of Istanbul to seize oversight of artistic decision-making at the theater. The show will likely be dropped from the repertoire.
Results of Incident: In the wake of the government seizing artistic control over the theater, the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, supported the Mayor's move, as well as threatened to "privatize" the state-run theaters by cutting their funding. Actors and arts organizations have condemned the intervention as a "political witch hunt," and some have taken to public protest. While the political posturing points towards further state intervention, the results are uncertain.
The artistic climate in Turkey is on ice under the Erdogan government. In April 2011, the Prime Minister's daughter walked out of a performance of Young Osman, claiming she was humiliated by an actor's improvisations. Claims that the theater is elitist and vulgar have increasingly led to calls for state control over the artistic content of productions.