Life isn't a quiet river | Free Word

10 November 2020

Presented by:
Zehra Doğan


Video art by exiled journalist and artist Zehra Doğan.

Life isn’t a quiet river is Kurdish exiled artist and journalist Zehra Doğan’s debut video art piece exploring the kindness of solidarity in times of political uncertainty. 

In 2016 Doğan became a political prisoner who was detained for a drawing. Her artwork depicting the destruction of the majority-Kurdish town of Nusaybin and her subsequent arrest went on to spark a world wide discussion on the importance of freedom of expression. 

The short film draws upon the power of writing and sees Doğan reflect on the compassion shown by supporters around the world who wrote letters to her during her 600 day imprisonment. It was filmed this summer in collaboration with many of Doğan’s exiled artist friends as they travelled across Europe. 

This film was made possible with support from Free Word residents English PEN. On October 12 2020 they will launch PENWrites: an international letter writing campaign in solidarity with writers in prison and at risk around the world. PENWrites will encourage supporters to send letters to writers who have been unjustly persecuted, offering them much needed moral support. Sign up now to join the PENWrites campaign.

10 November 2020

Zehra Doğan


Zehra Doğan

Artist, Journalist & Author

Zehra Doğan is a Kurdish artist and journalist and author from Amed, Turkey. She is a founder and the editor of Jinha, a feminist Kurdish news agency with an all-female staff. In 2017, she was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months and 22 days in prison for “terrorist propaganda” because of her news coverage, social media posts, and sharing a painting of hers on social media. Her painting depicts the destruction of the Nusaybin town in southeastern Turkey, after the clashes between state security forces and Kurdish insurgents. After she finished her sentence, she was released from imprisonment from Tarsus Prison on 24 February 2019.