Ebru – Weaving the Myth of a Europeanizing Turkey

by Azad Alik

Hrach Bayadyan

HETQ – This May, we had the opportunity to see two photo exhibits here in Yerevan. One was an extensive exhibit of the works by the New York-based Turkish photographer Attila Durak on display at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA) entitled “Erbru – Reflections of Cultural Diversity in Turkey”. The other presented the works of French-Armenian photographer Max Sivaslian entitled “We Once Lived There…” Both are related in some way to the issue of ethnic (religious) minorities living in Turkey.

Despite the fact that Sivaslian’s photos are far removed from being documentary testimonies, that main aim of the exhibition was clear. “We Once Lived There” refers to those locales (villages, towns, neighbourhoods) where Armenians once called home – from Van to Diyarbekir and even Istanbul. Now, others live in their former homes – Kurds, Turks, and Assyrians. The photographer firstly strives to reflect on the disappearance of Armenians from these locations; they either leave or are Islamicized.

More extensive in scope was the ACCEA exhibition. It was a sampling of the thousands of photos that Durak took over the course of seven years while travelling to various regions of Anatolia. The works include individual portraits and group shots. The project was turned into a book in 2007 with its own website (www.ebruproject.com). The exhibition has also been shown in Germany, France, Switzerland and the U.S., in addition to Turkey.

The theme of my article is the Ebru project. The word “weaving” in the title may seem out of place for a photographic project but the photos, in the book just as in the exhibit, are incorporated in a diverse and abundant textual weaving. I’ll speak about this in more detail later on.

For more see: http://hetq.am/eng/articles/1887/

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