'Under the thematic guideline of 'paper' and its paradoxical power to build bridges through art and the written word, yet limiting identity and movement, one of the main themes of NM will be the possibility of crossing borders, both literally and figuratively.'
Before I left for the sixth biennial ICORN Network Meeting, which this year took place in Brussels from 22-24 March 2022, I read these highlights of the main theme of the meeting on ICORN's official website. It was a very exciting theme for me. The reason for this excitement was that I am a person who sees the act of writing as a tool for crossing borders.
For me, writing is a driving force to move and not be a spectator of life. Combining the act of writing with a life in which I am not only an observer, but also interact with it, allows me to bypass the boundaries that I have built or are built around me, intellectually and physically. Paper and my pen, which I give life to as a journalist, expand my intellectual and physical freedom. When I feel that I am not a part of life, my pen becomes imprisoned and it becomes difficult for me to approach the essence of the subject in what I write. Not being able to use my pen, on the other hand, not only means that I cannot do my job, but also narrows my boundaries and destroys my freedom.
As I write, I bring my world and point of view together with others. As I write, the world and point of view of others enrich my world. My pen, which accompanies my paper, writes in order to intersect or unite my own cluster with different clusters, and ultimately to universalise.
On the other hand, words on paper can also mean going beyond the boundaries of the literal meaning of the word. The meeting of the realities of life on paper can pose a danger for state authorities that have sharply defined their red lines. While each authority determines its red line according to the contradictions of its own geography, you can become "dangerous" when you push this red line. As a journalist from Turkey, it will not be difficult for me to explain this situation. The Turkish state, which defines the LGBTI+, women and Kurdish issues as a red line, leaves you with two different options as soon as you touch this line.
To move away from the red line and continue doing your profession. This means moving away from real journalism and preventing the public from receiving news from the truth.
Doing journalism by continuing to touch the red line. In this case, you have to choose either the walls of the prison or beyond the borders of geography.
These thoughts were reinforced in every presentation made at the ICORN Network Meeting and in the sharing of experiences we had the opportunity to meet other ICORN guests. We were there as journalists, writers, artists and activists from different geographies. Each of our experiences in the countries we had to leave and in the countries where we currently live were as different as they were similar. The differences in our experiences offered us the opportunity to look at the world from different perspectives once again. While I was discovering the differences in the "red lines" of state authorities and the different contradictions of different countries, a wider window was in front of me. This made me feel that my borders were widened and enriched.
On the other hand, the fact that we were all forced to leave our geographies because we came into contact with these contradictions was our biggest point of intersection. The similarities in our experiences were undoubtedly fuelled by this. With pencils, paintbrushes or notes, we had come into contact with the "red lines" of the state authorities in the geographies where we were born and raised. This similarity of experience was part of the feeling of "belonging" that prevailed in me throughout the NM. When I consider "belonging" in its entirety, it was our similarities of experience as well as our shared values of defending freedom of thought and expression and human rights that created this feeling.
Leaving the 6th ICORN Network Meeting behind, I can say that after this meeting, which I had the opportunity to be a part of for the first time, I had the opportunity to overcome my boundaries once again in relation to the theme of the meeting, to capture belonging with our sameness while being enriched by many different experiences. Now, it remains for me to look forward to the meetings in the coming years.
Aslı Ceren Aslan 29.03.2022