Omuz is a new solidarity network in Turkey that came into existence shortly after the worldwide lockdowns in early spring 2020. A few days after the first Covid case was “officially” announced in Turkey, a small group of art professionals began seeking financial support for art practitioners who lost their secondary jobs, which had been their primary sources of income. Personal relationships helped in collecting modest sums for a close circle of colleagues, whose issues were quickly resolved. The aim was to save the day. But by the end of the month—and in the following two months—the group started meeting regularly to respond to similar cases, urgencies, and economic inequalities in the art world that the so-called first wave of Covid-19 laid bare, including but not limited to lack of institutional support, resources, and even health insurance for art workers, especially due to the high ratio of immaterial and unwaged labor in the art world.
As a network of solidarity, Omuz is based on unreciprocated resource sharing, bringing together artists, curators, researchers, art handlers, technicians, art historians, art writers, and others in the visual arts ecosystem. Omuz is not a legal entity; it is not a foundation, a corporation, or an association, and it does not have a bank account. It does not have office space or staff but instead has facilitators who rotate every three months. Through the website (omuz.org), Omuz acts as a mediator between those in need and those who want to provide resources. This is an unconditional and unilateral mechanism. The supporter, or the group of supporters, agrees to give 1,000 TL (approximately 122 USD).1 There are no conditions for the recipient. The supporter directly transfers the amount to the assigned recipient. In facilitating this peer-to-peer transfer, Omuz simply collects the necessary data and connects the individuals. With all of its participants, Omuz is built on mutual trust, unconditional financial support, and the sharing of labor and resources.
Subjects to discuss:
Trust and anonymity. The possibility of being a fluid, flexible, administrative body. The fact of taking individual steps/action on behalf of a collective movement without an administrative authority or institution backing you up.