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photos by Fırat Uzun

Henna Night

Les Belles De Nuit Festival

Opening Performance of Gender Bender Exhibition

Zurich, Switzerland

Performance video 28'01''


© Istanbul Queer Art Collective

Performed by Tuna Erdem, Seda Ergul, Leman Sevda Darıcıoglu, Onur Gökhan Gökçek

Performance video by Burak Serin

Photographs by Fırat Uzun

Original scores by

Ken Friedman, Edison’s Light House, 1965

Larry Miller, 200 Yard Candle Dash, 1970

Robert Watts, Event: 13, 1962

Robert Watts, TV Event, Date Unknown

Ken Friedman, Selection Event, 1991

The Henna Night (Kına Gecesi) is the traditional Turkish version of a bachelorette party in which both the bride to be and her female friends get henna burned on to their hands in celebration of the bride. There is also a vulgar but widely used phrase in Turkish that translates roughly as “to burn henna on your ass” and has the same meaning as the German word “schadenfreude”. Normally you use henna to celebrate the good fortunes of someone you like. But to use it on your ass means the exact opposite: rejoicing for something bad that happens to someone.

The Istanbul Queer Art Collective will be bringing all these various aspects of henna together and rendering them a part of their ongoing project to both queerify and localize Fluxus performances by burning henna on the ass of a dragqueen, burning henna on the hands of anyone who would like to participate, and remaking at least five Fluxus performances in the process. 

The West has a tendency to expect from queers of the East, stories of woe and difficulty. In adopting this traditional ritual in a western country, we wanted to playfully represent the schadenfreude inherent in this expectation, as well as its orientalism. As queers from the orient, the traditional rituals of our country, as well as the gender roles deemed universal, are to us merely masks that can only be worn in exaggeration: we bend the genders as we bend the oriental occidental divide by combing the Fluxus performances of the avant-garde west with the kitsch traditional rituals of heterosexuality our own country.

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