Article on Wikipedia.
For high res image downloads click here.
Dickinson is a British artist and the founder of the Istanbul
Stuckists. He has lived in Turkey for over 20 years.
June 2006 he displayed a collage Best
in Show (left) showing the face of Turkish Prime
Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, on a dog's body being given a
rosette by President Bush. This was in an anti-war show
organised by the Global Peace and Justice Coalition. Dickinson
had work in the show and added this particular collage without
the organisers' knowledge. The collage was seized by the
police, and he was told he would be prosecuted.
September 2006, he arrived at court in Istanbul and was
informed he would not be prosecuted for lack of evidence,
but that Erkan KayaIn of the Global Peace and Justice Coalition
would be prosecuted. Outside the court he held up a similar
collage, Good Boy (left),
showing the face
of the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip on a dog's body with
a stars and stripes leash and nuclear missile tail. Dickinson
and detained for 10 days in "horrific" conditions.
He was informed he would be prosecuted for displaying this
October 2007 he arrived at court, and the case was adjourned
so that the opinion of professors could be ascertained as
to the worth of the collage.
24 March 2008, he appeared in court. The professors of art
from Marmara university invited by the judge to give their
evaluation as to whether it was art or insult didn't show
up, so the trial was adjourned.
25 September 2008, he appeared in court again under article
125/3 "insulting the prime minister" with a possible
two year jail sentence if convicted. He was acquitted of
June 2009, the acquittal was overturned, and he fled to
England, giving away all his possessions. Unable to find
work, and refused Jobseekers Allowance, he returned to Turkey.
was summoned to court again and the case adjourned.
January 2010, the judge in Kadiköy law court, Istanbul,
said Dickinson was guilty of insulting the Turkish Prime
Minister with the collage. When Dickinson said he would
not pay any fine, though that could result in up to two
years in prison, the judge delayed a final decision until
a hearing at 2pm on 9 March 2010.
9 March 2010, the judge sentenced Dickinson to 425 days
in prison. This would have been the first time anyone had
received jail for criticism of the prime minister. However,
the judge then immediately communted the sentence to a £3,000
fine. When Dickinson said he would not pay the fine, the
judge said the fine would not be enforced, as long as Dickinson
did not make any further collages about the prime minister
for the next five years.
other similar cases, see the Turkish Freedom of Expression
(page 9). Michael
Dickinson site here.
his article on Counterpunch.
NOTICE FOR HOLIDAY MAKERS AND RESIDENTS IN TURKEY:
DON'T ACCESS THIS SITE!
SHOWING THE COLLAGE BELOW IN PUBLIC COULD MEAN UP TO 3 YEARS
Below: Best in Show with face of Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish
Prime Minister, on dog's body, being given a rosette by President
Dickinson is the John Heartfield of our time with his scathing,
inventive and exquisitely-wrought political collages.
TO TONY BLAIR
8 2005 White
House press release
President Bush: Turkey's democracy is an important
example for the people in the broader Middle East, and I
want to thank you for your leadership. Mr. Erdogan.
Prime Minister Erdogan: I can summarize the main
titles of our discussion as freedom, democracy, rule of
law, fight against terrorism, security and human rights.
ASKED TO INTERVENE AS STUCKIST ARTIST FACES 3 YEARS JAIL
IN TURKEY FOR THIS COLLAGE
Tony Blair has been asked to intervene,
after Michael Dickinson, founder of the Istanbul Stuckists,
has been told he will be prosecuted for "insulting
the dignity of the Prime Minister" for displaying the
collage shown above in Istanbul. It features the Turkish
Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, as a dog being given a rosette
by President Bush.
charge carries a sentence of 1 to 3 years imprisonment.
Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists, has written
to Tony Blair to ask him to intervene in the case, saying:
is intolerable that a country applying for EU membership
should censor freedom of political comment in this way.
I trust you will communicate your strongest condemnation
and ask for this case to be abandoned immediately. I ask
for your assurance that you will oppose Turkish EU membership
in the strongest terms, until Turkey adopts the attitudes
of the civilised world towards human rights.
commented, “If Blair doesn’t intervene, he is condoning
the violation of human rights. If Saddam Hussein isn’t allowed
to get away with it in Iraq, why should Tayyip Erdogan in
The case again raises serious questions about Turkey’s human
rights record in its bid for EU membership, which Blair
has said he is “proud to champion”. In January following
an international outcry, charges of “insulting Turkishness”
were dropped against leading Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk
for speaking about Armenian genocide.
who lives in Turkey, displayed his collage in an exhibition
in Istanbul on March 11. The exhibition’s organiser, Erkan
Kaya, has already been charged with “insulting the dignity
of the Prime Minister”. On Monday last week (5 June) Dickinson
went with a lawyer to the judge’s office on his own initiative
and submitted a letter, admitting sole responsibility for
displaying the work, titled “Best in Show”. He was informed
that he would be notified when he has to appear in court.
mixed media exhibition was part of a Peace Fair, staged
with council permission in central Kadikoy, Istanbul, by
the Global Peace and Justice Coalition (BAK), with anti-war
statements particularly about American action in Iraq. After
complaints about the collage, civil police arrested all
those on duty in the show tent, Erkan Kaya, Gulen Sahin,
Mehmet Demir, Filiz Ulget and Burak Delier, and removed
Dickinson’s work. Following statements made to the public
prosecutor, charges were dropped against all but Erkan Kaya,
the organiser of the show, who was deemed liable. He disclaimed
responsibility, saying, “A lot of people were coming and
going in the tent. I didn’t see who put the picture up."
Dickinson had other collages on display, but had included
this one during the course of the show without authorisation.
front page of Turkish paper Vatan,
also in The
Sunday Times (12.6.06), Turkish
Daily News (14.6.06),
counterpunch.org, Kanal Turk TV, Agence
France Press , artinfo.com,
yahoo news, iafrica.com,
East Times, Mail
& Guardian online, melbourne.indymedia,
In French: info-turk.be,
In French: lawoufgazette,
Gallery forum, deviantart,
(you can post to these)
News Agency (download,
court cases concerning freedom of expression in Turkey here
Dickinson's (other) collages were then displayed at Ucari
Cafe, Bahariye Cad., Ali Suavi Sok, (Sanatkarlar Sokagi),
No 28, Kadikoy, Istanbul.
to his MP Dan Norris (16.6.06):
"Can you assure me that you will address this issue
seriously and condemn this gross violation of human rights
and freedom of artistic expression."
COLLAGE - JAILED FOR 10 DAYS
Good Boy by Michael
Dickinson. The face is Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime
The text on the cloth on the dog's body translates
as, "We Will not be Bush's Dog!"
Michael Dickinson said, "It was a sign some protestors
had wrapped around their
pet boxer dog at an anti-war rally a couple of years ago."
Dickinson was detained in jail for 10 days after he held
up this collage outside the court in Istanbul.
interview on More 4 here.
Story in Guardian
collages were shown at the Stuckists Go
West exhibition at Spectrum London
TO GORDON BROWN AND PETITION
Michael Dickinson faced possible jail for his collage.
Sign the protest petition on mungbeing.com.
The petition states:
"We, the undersigned, support an artist's right of
free expression.We stand firmly with Amnesty International
in their calls on the Turkish authorities to terminate without
delay all prosecutions against individuals under the notorious
Article 301, and to abolish all other articles in the Turkish
Penal Code that stifle and punish freedom of speech and
expression. We call for the prosecution of Michael Dickinson
over his political collages to be dropped."
on Michael Dickinson in Pasadena
Weekly (20.9.07), Northern
Echo (2.10.07), + Artinfo,
New York (2.10.07). Also Coxsoft
(19.9.07) and Saatchi Gallery blog
Independent (15.5.07) (3rd story) Also
collage was displayed in the A Gallery here.
SENT TO GORDON BROWN
29 September 2007
Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister
I would like to ask for your intervention
in the case of British artist Michael Dickinson, who lives
in Istanbul, where he is due in court on 8 October under
Article 125 on a charge of “insulting the dignity of the
Prime Minister” after displaying a collage. Conviction can
result in a jail sentence of up to two years.
I enclose a copy of this collage,
Good Boy, which depicts the Turkish Prime Minister’s head
on a dog’s body with a Stars and Stripes leash. This kind
of satire is of course commonplace commentry in this country,
and it is intolerable that a country applying for EU membership
should censor freedom of political comment in this way.
A year ago, when he was arrested,
Mr Dickinson was held for 10 days in a Turkish police station,
in inhumane conditions. He reports that he could get virtually
no sleep, with lights on twenty-four hours a day, thick
cigarette smoke, loud music, shouting from policemen, and
screams from prisoners being abused in the next room.
Mr Dickinson’s case has already achieved
international media coverage with coverage from UK national
press including The Times and The Guardian.
I trust you will communicate your
strongest condemnation of this prosecution to the Turkish
government, and ask for this case to be abandoned immediately.
I ask for your assurance that you will oppose Turkish European
Union membership, until Turkey adopts the attitudes of the
civilised world towards freedom of speech and human rights.
Michael Dickinson is the Istanbul
representative of the Stuckism International art movement.
Co-founder, The Stuckists
Prime Minister's office passed the letter to the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office. Stephen Sneath, Desk Officer, Turkey,
Afghanistan, Former Soviet Union, replied on 31 October
I am sure you will understand we are unable to interfere
in the judidicial process of other countries, just as other
countries are unable to interfere in our judicial process.
Dickinson appeared in Kadikoy 2nd Criminal Court of First
Instance, Kadkoy, Istanbul on 8 October 2007, accused of
insulting the dignity of the Turkish Prime Minister under
Article 125. The case has been adjourned. Michael Dickinson
said, "Case due for 11.30 was delayed until 2 pm. A
couple of witnesses gave evidence - a plain-clothes police
woman who said she'd seen me open the poster of Good Boy
last year in the corridor of the court building when I was
showing it to another person; and the policeman who had
arrested me after I opened it to photographers waiting outside.
The judge said the next hearing will be on the 24th March,
during which time he will have gathered the opinions of
the university arts professors on my work."
2008: case adjourned On 24 March 2008, he appeared in court.
The professors of art from Marmara university invited by
the judge to give their evaluation as to whether it was
art or insult didn't show up, so the trial was adjourned
Dickinson (left) with Abby
Jackson (center) in 2008 in Istanbul.
OF INSULTING THE TURKISH PRIME MINSTER
artist Michael Dickinson acquitted in landmark Turkish court case
over this collage
Boy, the offending collage by Michael
the face of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
text on the cloth on the dog's body translates as, "We Will not
be Bush's Dog!"
Michael Dickinson said, "It was a sign some protestors had
wrapped around their
pet boxer dog at an anti-war rally a couple of years ago."
Dickinson, a British artist prosecuted in Turkey for "insulting
the dignity of the prime minister" because of a collage he made,
was acquitted in a ground-breaking ruling by the judge (25.9.08).
judge read out a testimonial letter from Prof Mehmet Ozer, an art
teacher at Marmara University saying that in his opinion Dickinson's
collage Good Boy was more an example of "political criticism" rather
The judge disagreed with this and said he thought that the collage
was insulting according to Turkish standards.
then went on to say that this sort of art was quite normal in the
European community, mentioning cartoonists in Spain and Germany,
who sometimes caricatured politicians as pigs or other animals without
being accused of insult. His conclusion was that as Turkey was trying
to join the European community a collage such as Dickinson's should
not be held as a crime.
Michael Dickinson said, "So I'm free, without even a fine. I'm very
relieved to have it all over now after having lived under the shadow
of the charge for the last two years. "My lawyer and I might talk
later about possible compensation for the discomfort I suffered,
but at the moment I'm just trying to let it sink in that I don't
have to worry about this any more, and hope that my acquittal might
have an effect on the decisions of the judges of the many other
cases where Turkish writers and artists face criminal charges for
having expressed their opinions in writing, speech or art."
carried a possible two year jail sentence.
Dickinson founded the Istanbul Collage Stuckists group in 2004.
the story in The
Guardian and The
Northern Echo (26.9.08), and as syndicated by Associated
Press (25.9.08) worldwide to International Herald Tribune, Forbes,
Philadelphia Enquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Journal Gazette,
Seattle Times, Anchorage Daily News, Press of Atlantic City, Yahoo,
Fort Mill Times and others. Also on the BBC.
and Finchley Times (30.9.08) and Hendon
and Finchley Press (2.10.08).
news and google
for more coverage.
Story prior to the case in the Northern
Echo and here,
also on Coxsoft.
Dickinson fled Turkey to avoid prosecution for his Good Boy
collage after hearing that last September's acquittal had been
said, "I caught a plane out as soon as I could, leaving most of
my possessions behind, including my books, furnishings and computer.
I was sad to leave after 23 years in Turkey, but I don't fancy another
taste of Turkish hospitality in incarceration."
First Post (29.6.09), The
Times (also Nancy Durrant p.2), The
Guardian (4th item), The
Northern Echo, Durham
Post and Hürriyet
de Paris and ArtInfo
(1.7.09). All news results including Turkish language here.
TO TURKEY AND NEW TRIAL
3 NOVEMBER 2009
failed to find work in the UK and being refused Jobseekers Allowance,
Dickinson returned to Turkey and faced a new trial on 3 November
2009. An account of it is here.
case was adjourned to 27 January 2010.
27 JANUARY 2010
guilty of insulting the Turkish prime minister with the Good
Boy collage, says judge. He refuses to pay any fine and faces
up to two years in jail : BBC
Journal (with Amnesty International quote), and Press Association
report in The
Echo and The
Star (S. Yorkshire). Blogs: Art
in Liverpool (28.1.10), Durham
Times + photo (29.1.10). Blogs: Guncel
Meydan (31.1.10), Andrew Finkel in Today's
Johnstone on Michael Dickinson in the Ham
& High Broadway (4.2.10) - click to page 3
Dickinson emailed us:
to start at 11.20, my hearing was delayed for two hours as the judge
went through cases before mine. It
was the same rigmarole more or less, although my lawyer, Volkan,
put up an impassioned speech for freedom of expression. The judge
asked if I had anything to say before he gave his verdict. I couldn't
think of anything to say except 'Biktim' ('I'm bored/fed up with
before the judge was about to pass sentence Volkan explained to
him that if he had decided to punish me with a money fine, I had
decided not to pay one as a protest against this law against freedom
of expression. The judge called for a 10 minute break while he considered
we had come back from the recess, a last paragraph of the preceding
record of what had been said was deleted. The judge
gave his decision. I had gone too far with the imagery in my collage,
he said, and particularly by showing it in public.
He did consider it an 'insult to the Prime Minister' and had decided
to punish me, but was witholding his official verdict and sentence:
he was going to adjourn the case for a final trial on March 9th
at 2pm in order to give me time to reflect and review my defence.
I deserved to be punished, and if I refuse to pay a fine I will
be sent to prison, possibly for 2 years.
sum of money was mentioned for the fine, but I will not pay, no
matter how small it might be."
Earlier coverage in Northern
Echo (26.1.10), and Press Association story (27.1.10) in Google
News , Belfast
Media , Independent
Express and Channel
Michael Dickinson's article in Counterpunch
week, Turkey was identified as the worst violator of the European
convention on human rights between 1959 and 2009. According to figures
released by the European court of human rights, the country accounted
for almost 19% of all violations, with 2,295 judgements issued against
it. Turkey also had the highest proportion of violations in 2009,
making up 347 out of 1,625 negative rulings. The most common violation
was the denial of the right to a fair trial. Turkey also had 30
rulings against it following complaints of inhumane or degrading
treatment." - The
is the 2010 European Capital of Culture.
the new updated Good Boy 2 on Michael's
to top back
AND FINE COMMUTED
9 MARCH 2010
:The judge sentenced Dickinson to 425 days in prison, immediately
commuted to a £3,000 fine, which Dickinson said he would not
pay. The judge said the fine would not be enforced, provided Dickinson
made no further artworks of the prime minister for the next five
also Deutsche-Presse Agentur report on Monsters
and Critics (10.3.10) and comment
by Michael Dickinson on Counterpunch