Gençler Aralarında Anlaşmış - GAA

Gençler Aralarında Anlaşmış (GAA)

When we say independent art organizations, one of the main concepts is, of course, "independence". What does independence mean to you? As an art formation, what do you feel like you are dependent on, and what do you think you need to look out? 

Begüm Akın: GAA is a formation that emerges from the people who enjoy spending time together and produce by thinking within those times. Over time, it continued its path with the participation of new people, and we started to think about more planned activities. 

Many things that we got down to -including the establishment of GAA- included a collaboration which forms an idea put forward together. For GAA, the thing that corresponds to the concept of independence may be that we are open to trying and learning by doing. Someone who crossed with GAA may have a direct impact in any meeting held or any event made. Everything we could achieve was because of the events that were going on around us, the people sharing their ideas and the things happening to us. Throughout our existence, we had been a formation holding collective visual production at its heart, and our methods always had some surprises. Maybe we can summarize our relationship with independence. 

Of course, as time goes on, the need for regularity and continuity occurred both in our individual lives and in the GAA. For us, it did never mean to put something regularly or to meet the expectations as an art organization. We mobilized and attempted at the point where we thought we could produce something together. Therefore, we have become a diverse group with different ranges and productions. It had pearls and pitfalls. And these always made us think. Nevertheless, we had never taken action as we felt obliged to do something. Aside from the things that were felt short of, I believe that is the reason why what we had done has been very precious and complete and full for us. 

Şener Soysal: GAA was independent of space, people, and money. For this reason, we had gathered in houses, pubs, and coffee places. When we need a place for an exhibition or an event, we collaborated with Ka Atölye, Pasaj, FilBooks, and Studio X. There was also the issue of infiltrating in Fotoistanbul as a guerilla exhibition. There was no open call for young photographers, so we hold an exhibition in an empty corridor of the venue and made a fake statement tag. Consequently, we tried to produce and share with a strength arising from the collaboration. We had a freedom that does no harm. The thing we were dependent on was ourselves. Our doubts, worries, times that we can spare...


When it comes to sustainability, the organizational model is as crucial as financial issues. That makes us think more about certain concepts. What do you think about institutionalization and division of labour? 

B: On institutionalization, we focused more on gaining a corporate identity which would create a statement that describes us textually and visually. Apart from that, we did not need institutionalization at any time. Perhaps if we considered continuing in a more planned and regular manner, we would try to define this. 

We cannot say that we had the main definitions for the division of labour. There were times that everyone has undertaken some duties, as well as a single person did the major part of the task. We did not have a rigid program, and we have taken action spontaneously. Therefore, people who were the right place in the right situation at the right moment had a lot of effect on the division of labour.  

Ş: Generally, we held activities that did not have financial difficulties. We aimed to get into the acts within the available opportunities. There were no bounding things such as place, space, material. Therefore, institutionalism and the financial issues were not on our agendum. Maybe GAA would be in a format that meets its needs by being an organization or institution, but we have never think of it. For instance, Begüm's husband, Ozan, suggested that what we did could be sold to corporate companies as a social event. He was right about it, and we could sell our events. Who knows, if we did this maybe it would turn into a commercial format. But it would not continue with the same sense of independence.


The organizations arise from the individual desires and needs as well as the needs of the art environment. Therefore, the wishes and opinions of individuals become a significant factor in the structure of an organization. How much did your organization depend on the individuals part in and how did you balance between these two?

B: Perhaps we brought up this subject in previous answers. It might be more right to state that the establishment of GAA was through the communion of a group of people rather than individual curiosities and needs. We can say that an action based on people coming together and telling/showing something to each other turned into an initiative. It was very dependent on and independent of individuals. 

Naturally, the paths we have followed over time may have been shaped by individual intentions. In such initiatives, a person who is the pioneer of an idea or someone who heats the stationary phases becomes more influential. That fact does not contradict the structure of an initiative, and we can say that each initiative progresses by building its balance. In one way or another, the attempts we wanted have continued altogether. Apart from them, there were also things we could not maintain/do.


Why did your organization end? What does termination mean to you?

B: Actually, we can discuss the issues we have talked about up to this point in two points. There were aspects that we could say "How nice it was, we are glad to do this," as well as that could cause the lack of sustainability. GAA has been a lovely adventure with its ups and downs since its establishment. We should not consider only the needs/goals we talked about, busyness and developments in the lives of individuals who lead the organization for sustainability are also a crucial factor. At this point, we can say that we have come to a period that we do not believe in our future as GAA. These days, we are noticing that we have not come together to make a collaborative production for a long time. Accepting this is a bit of termination for GAA. 

Ş: We did not develop a plan while establishing GAA. It has started with a workshop that we hold with Öykü Okuyan. The name, Gençler Aralarında Anlaşmış (The Youngs match up with each other), was based on the desire that two friends coming together to produce something together. We also wanted to make fun of cool artistic names. The pleasure of creating, sharing, having fun, and being a community together makes things grow naturally. Likewise, when our togetherness was interrupted, the GAA inevitably ended. 


How did you provide your economic sustainability? 

B: GAA did not provide its economic sustainability. We solved the spatial problems thanks to the beautiful people who open up their houses, studios, art spaces to us. Apart from this, everything from the papers we used to the fruits we ate was the contributions of someone from GAA. There was only one exhibition in which the print costs were covered by the organization inviting us. Even though there was no income/expense situation, that was the only event we faced financial issues, I guess. In the guerrilla exhibition that we held the year before, we were more independent and had a clear conscience. Therefore, I believe we can attribute this issue to "both good and bad sides" of the organization.


Does the concept of generational difference mean anything to you? Do you think that your initiative can transform itself in the period that continues its existence and adapts to the new conditions?

B: We may say that it had transformed itself up to a point. It has a curve, actually, a rise and a pause. There was a period that we had many opportunities such as playing new games, meeting new people, hearing new voices and travelling to other cities thorough GAA. It seems as if everything has grown during this period, and when we look at it, it would not be wrong to say that GAA has adapted to conditions. 

I am not sure whether the concept of generational difference means anything to this community. We had a chance to meet with many different people, and we had collected many beautiful memories with all of them. At least we wished it to be that way. I hope we managed that. 


What difficulties did you experience during the termination process?

B: I guess the biggest challenge we had was accepting the termination. There is a comfort zone created by not expressing the ending and believing that it may wake one day somehow. The reason lies behind may be that: in general, people involved in an initiative have the potential to pick up where they left off when they come together again, no matter how long the pause takes. That gave us a dream of coming together and having an action one day. Maybe it still does, but accepting the end of an initiative does not prevent the potential future actions.   

Ş: I guess the most bizarre moment for me was the moment that I did not renew the domain of I thought, "Is it over, really?", "Isn't there even an archive anymore?" But I know that there is still access to When you do not start something officially, you do not mention the termination either. Everything happens with instincts.  


If there was a world in which you could determine all the conditions, what changes would you think for maintaining?

B: I would like to see what our formation can achieve in a beautiful world where many things that we worry about individually and limitations end :) 

Ş: In a world with less earthly problems, we could worry more about GAA, and it might not end. 


What kind of problems do you observe in independent initiatives, and what are your concerns about the future of them? Do you have any suggestions or experiences to share?

B: The initiatives need time, effort, and support. It is also crucial that the people involved in those initiatives should enjoy and be eager while trying to bring all these together. To independent initiatives have a future, this balance must be established and hold. GAA progressed by having this balance, and it stopped at the point where the balance cannot be held anymore. Since we could not think of that we could move forward by balancing, we have become the subject of the termination today. We can say that this is a proper end that complements what we have mentioned up to this point. Although we think that one day we can continue where we left off, it would be better to finish the sentence for now. Our experience was that way, and thanks to everyone who has been a part of it.