Turkey became an exponentially worse context for journalists with the polarization post-Gezi (2013), causing many to lose their jobs. The 2016 coup led to many newspapers and magazines to close down and many writers and journalists to be imprisoned. The polarization was also reflected in the ways in which the news have been received; choosing to buy a certain newspaper or to follow a specific news portal meant taking a specific side.
Parallel to the increasing censorship and move away from being a state of law, the number of fortune-tellers and astrologers increase. Astrologers and clairvoyants are invited to newscasts, enjoying the position of authority. Most probably the least affected by the oppression and censorship, the fortunetellers have become more politically engaged, warning us about bombs by looking at the angles of the stars, providing us with a date for a rebellion depending on the position of Mars.
Future Tense is a project in the form of a newspaper that brings together 50 soothsayers from diverse political opinions and ethnicities who consulted sand, lead, tarot cards, coffee grounds, blank sheets of A4 paper, dreams, water, clairvoyance, astrology, pendulums and horoscopes in order to reveal the point that Turkey has reached in newscasting. The sessions took place in December 2016 and January 2017. The articles in the newspaper have been commissioned specifically for 2017 and further future.
As populism, lack of empathy, discrimination are reaching new extremes both in the world and in Turkey, as everyone is asking the question of what will happen next, Future Tense questions our habits of receiving the news by mixing propaganda, news, and fortunetelling.
16 pages, Black and White. Commissioned by Pinchuk Art Centre for the exhibition of Future Generation Art Prize 2017.
Future Tense has been edited by Evrim Altug /// designed by Yetkin Basarir /// coordinated by Deniz Memisoglu /// translated from Turkish into English by Merve Unsal /// copy edited by Zeynep Bilginsoy. Conversations by Yusuf Emre Yalçın (Sinop), Asli Cavusoglu (Istanbul + Tekirdag), Deniz Memisoglu (Istanbul), Cengiz Tekin (Diyarbakir), Gulnur Kurap (Edirne), Fikret Atay (Batman), Emel Sikargenc (Hatay), Meliha Cavusoglu (Adapazari + Istanbul), Ayber Hasturk (Adana).
You can download the pdf here.
Future Tense also exists as an audio piece produced for documenta 14 radio. The work will be broadcasted through 8 radio stations from around the world based in the following countries: Greece, South Africa, Germany, Colombia, Brazil, USA, Indonesia, Lebanon. documenta 14 radio will take the chosen radio station’s program in its entirety and feed in 4 hours. The radio relay will last for the period of documenta 8.4.17-17.9.17. Within this period the work will be broadcast 8 times, once within each station’s period of broadcasting.
Future Tense [Breaking News] & Audio, English, 50 min.
Original music by İsmail Genç aka Havantepe /// With voice recordings of Sinan Okan Çavuş, Karoly Aliotti, Selin Murat, Özkan Cangüven and Aslı Çavuşoğlu /// Mixed by İsmail Genç aka Havantepe at Circuit Room, Istanbul
Her recent project in Venice wanted to outline uncertainty, unpredictability and polarization. The project, called “Future Tense,” is a newspaper where the day’s news is interpreted by fortunetellers, astrologers and clairvoyants.
Outside the Biennale, another young Turkish artist, Asli Cavusoglu, has produced a subtle and wryly engaged response to the Erdogan government’s imprisonment of journalists and writers. At the Palazzo Contarini Polignac, a grand building near the Accademia that is hosting an exhibition of nominees for the Future Generation Art Prize, Ms. Cavusoglu is distributing her own newspaper, “Future Tense,” whose articles on geopolitics, society and Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum are written by astrologers, soothsayers and other prognosticators. One fortune teller predicts that Turkey will be divided into two states; another foresees that Donald J. Trump will not remain the American president for long and that George Clooney will enter politics.
Tackling the times even more directly was Aslı Çavuşoğlu’s Future Tense, 2017. In Turkey, things have escalated to the point where journalists can no longer professionally address current events. The only people who can speak about politics with impunity are fortune-tellers. “Now you have all these fortune-tellers getting invited to speak on the evening news,” Çavuşoğlu recounted. “It’s like our version of ‘Fake News.’” For her commission, the artist worked with clairvoyants from across the country, compiling a sixteen-page newspaper from clippings ranging from “Coup in Two Months” to “Two Jaguars Are Running Towards India.”
In Asli Çavuşoğlu’s giveaway newspaper, Future Tense (2017), the columns are wryly given over to fortune-tellers, who used tarot cards, coffee grounds, pendulums and maybe a soupçon of their own subjectivity. Rita thinks things will hit rock bottom and then ‘we’ll wake up to a miracle’, Gamze sees a new saviour coming and Ismail sees the novelist Orhan Pamuk going to prison – all of which remain pending.