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bothers my brain...
...touches my soul
PASAJ Karaköy
2019-2021 (extended due to COVID-19)

PASAJ hosts exhibitions, interventions, workshops, talks, performances of local and international artists that do socially engaged and participatory art projects. It seeks ways to facilitate skills exchange and tries to establish an environment where artists may encounter different communities. It respects the local knowledge, history, and memory of a place.


Relocated 5 times, each time PASAJ experienced different milieu’s conditions and social assets. Now located in Karakoy, PASAJ organizes a series of exhibitions and network meetings under the name of “Bothers my brain, touches my soul”. The program concentrates on freedom of artistic expression investigated in various levels and directions.


Today we witness an overall increase in the suppression of freedom of expression. PASAJ as well directly faced harsh censorship during its curatorial job in the 4th Istanbul Children and Youth Biennial in 2016. That groundbreaking event pushed us to regularly participate in artist solidarity meetings against censorship in Turkey, and to more deeply investigate the mechanisms and consequences of this phenomenon: what happens to the artists and their practices in today’s challenging circumstances? In this relentless crackdown of free speech, which tools do they use to produce? Do they self-censor their own work? What are the precautions of being an artist today? Aware of the ongoing situation, we would like to investigate different practices and experiences. By doing so, we seek for unhampered transmission of thought.


In connection, PASAJ continues to explore the concept of memory, giving a place on its schedule to the events developed around this matter. We consider the value of memory vital to the experience, especially through the fast-changing memory of events/places in Istanbul and contemporary Turkey: brutally gentrified neighborhoods, inaccessible public spaces, abolished/displaced landmarks; statues, sculptures, fountains. We believe that we can recall participatory memory practices, social representations of the forgotten or unknown past through socially engaged art projects produced in situ that invite the inhabitants around to share, discuss, collect and learn from the experiences together.


As a result of the project “Bothers my brain, touches my soul” we expect to move away from the difficulties of fighting alone and unite through commons, similarities, awareness, and recollections. 

program April 2018 - June 2021

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