Duvar English

A recently appointed trustee who replaced the elected mayor of İzmir’s Urla district has taken a decision to close down the Urla Photography Art House and rent out its building with a tender.

Önder Can was appointed by the Interior Ministry to replace İbrahim Burak Oğuz, the elected mayor of the Urla district in the Aegean province of İzmir. Oğuz, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was dismissed from duty on Dec. 18, 2019 over alleged links to the Gülen network, which Turkish authorities refer to as Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Shortly after assuming the position, Can decided to close down the Urla Photography Art House, which has hosted over 100 exhibitions since its establishment 10 years ago, reported daily Birgün on Feb. 11.

Accordingly, all exhibitions and activities held at the art house will be cancelled as of the end of February. Officials told the organizer of the exhibitions, Urla Photography Voluntary Association, that they can hold present the exhibitions in other places assigned by the municipality, provided that those “places are available.”

The newly appointed trustee’s action was criticized by the association’s president Selçuk Kayan as well as several Urla residents.

“For the last four years, we had been organizing exhibition works voluntarily on behalf of the municipality. That place [art house] is not somewhere that we occupied; we are not using there as the association’s center. We already have a building for the association. But, we got saddened by this decision,” Kayan said.

“We have been shown another place [for the exhibitions]. We have been told to present the exhibitions at the Culture Center’s hallway. We did not accept this decision. We also talked with Mr. Önder [Can] but could not persuade him otherwise,” he said.

Kayan said that the Urla Photography Art House does not only host works of artists from İzmir, but also from other provinces. “This place [art house] had become identified with photography. Urla is losing this,” he said.