More than 46,000 people have died following the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on 6 February and its aftershocks. On 20 February a second earthquake, at a magnitude of 6.4, struck the southern Turkish province of Hatay with reverberations felt in Syria also. As of writing, this second set of earthquakes has injured 294 people in Turkey, the health ministry confirmed, and more than 500 people in Syria according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The destruction has also decimated homes, heritage sites and key infrastructure, raising serious concerns about the wellbeing and recovery of those who have survived the disasters. As international charities and non-government organisations work to provide support in the region, artists and art world platforms are seeking to rally industry support, attempting to raise awareness and funds for disaster relief.
Istanbul-based artist creates new work for World Health Organisation campaign
The digital artist Uğur Gallenkuş has created a set of new works in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Foundation to encourage donations for urgent medical care and supplies in Turkey and Syria. Known for his collage works, which parallel the lives of children in extreme circumstances with those in quotidian comfort, Gallenkuş's latest works contrast the destruction and rescue efforts with the unscathed reality of those unaffected by the earthquakes. According to the foundation website, the funds are not only necessary for providing care to those injured in the initial disaster but to those in affected regions for which "aftershocks, freezing conditions [and] the destruction of roads and power supplies" continue to pose serious health risks.
London creative platform organises charity art auction
The UK-based creative platform, Open Space Contemporary, has organised an online sale of art in the wake of the disaster. “We have asked brilliant and generous artists we have worked with and in our network to help donate a work for the relief” efforts, the organisers say on Instagram. To purchase a work, buyers must send the platform confirmation of a donation to one of the disaster relief organisations listed in the platform’s Instagram profile. Groups listed include: the Charities Aid Foundation, the British Red Cross, the Turkish-based charity Ahbap and the Turkish government’s own humanitarian aid campaign.
Turkey-Syria earthquake: the race to save damaged heritage sites
Sold works include the ceramic artist Holly Stevenson’s EYE (2022) (£300) and prints from the Prague-based artist Radek Brousil (£250 each, in an edition of 30). Works still available include prints from the British artist Lauren Godfrey (£275, in an edition of 3) and the London-based Venezuelan artist Lucia Pizzani’s clay work Tabachin (2022) (£2,000). Open Space’s latest figures put the total raised at £2,450 since Wednesday. Artists can still submit works for sale. “It is not a race but a marathon as unfortunately the damage is immense,” the site's founder, Huma Kabakci, tells The Art Newspaper.
Turkish AI artist opens a charity crypto wallet
The Turkish American new media artist, Refik Anadol, announced an Ethereum fundraising campaign via Twitter this week. “Hope we can gather together a strong support in web3 community!” says the artist best known for his artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic art. As of this writing, over ETH3.7 (around $6,000) had been raised. The total amount will be deposited into Ahbap’s crypto account, the artist confirmed.
Benefit film screening at e-flux studios in New York City
The experimental film Gilgamesh, titled after the towering ancient Mesopotamian hero of the eponymous epic poem, will be screening at art and publishing platform e-flux’s New York studios today (9 February). “All proceeds from ticket sales and donations will go toward disaster relief in southeastern Turkey” the organisers say in an online statement. Made by the platform’s founder and editor, Anton Vidokle, and the Turkish sociologist and art historian, Pelin Tan, Gilgamesh: She Who Saw the Deep (2022) is “a meditation on questions of living, death, friendship, love, and immortality”. The film features a cast of actors who are all women and members of the Amed Theater in Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city in the part of Turkey most directly hit by the earthquake. Proceeds from the e-flux shop are currently also being sent to fund relief efforts.