(c) Hakan Topal

Hakan Topal

(New York)

The Golden Cage: Reenactments, 2018-22



The northern bald ibis (a.k.a “kelaynak” in Turkish) is the most endangered migratory bird in the Middle East. It is characterised by a bare, red face and neck, and long and narrow feathers. When Palmyra fell to ISIS, the kelaynak colony, which migrates from Northeast Africa to the Turkish-Syrian border, faced total extinction. In March 2016, the state-operated Birecik Kelaynak Reproduction Center decided not to release the birds from their migration-period confinement cages in order to protect them.

“The Golden Cage” refers to a set of confinements amidst the never-ending catastrophes in the region; it is a poetic examination of artefacts, ruins, water bodies and organisms spread across a highly nationalized terrain. As the embodied symbol of the state, the cage is performed through translated texts to create new contradictory associations about borders, migrations, entrapments and untranslatability. For a multitude of historical, archaeological and representative implications, these sacred birds are metaphors for this performative piece.

Language: English

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