performed by Ensemble Decipher
Instrumentation: Laptop Ensemble
Premiere: March 5, 2018 - Ensemble Decipher - Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
On January 19, 2007, Turkish-Armenian journalist and political activist Hrant Dink was assassinated outside the office of his newspaper Agos in Istanbul. He was killed by a Turkish nationalist for his efforts to speak out about taboo issues in Turkish society, including minority rights, the reconciliation of Armenians and Turks, and democratization. After his funeral, two hundred thousand mourners marched through the streets of Istanbul chanting “We are all Hrant. We are all Armenians.” They held signs with this message in Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish, a powerful message of solidarity in a country with a history of repressing minorities and where the word “Armenian” is used by some as an insult. In this piece, the performers repetitively type this chant in Turkish, Armenian, Kurdish, and English, triggering the sounds of protest chants in all four languages. In between these chants is the text of the original 2005 version of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which criminalizes the “denigration of Turkishness,” a crime for which Dink was prosecuted three times and eventually convicted of, leading to death threats and eventually his murder. Finally, the voice of Hrant Dink emerges from the cacophonous chants, a reminder of the power a single voice can have to change an unjust society and the work still yet to be done.
For optional visual component, follow this link.
For more on the significance of the “We are all Hrant. We are all Armenians” chant, read: What Do We Mean When We Say “Hepimiz”? Exploring Chants of Solidarity in Turkish Protest Movements, Asher Kohn, Ajam Media Collective