Archive for June 18th, 2011

June 18, 2011

Ebru – Weaving the Myth of a Europeanizing Turkey – 2

by Azad Alik

Hrach Bayadyan

HETQ – There is no need to prove that the vast majority of who is photographed, in comparison to the photographer (and the other project authors) is on a very low level of existence, if we can ascribe any social level at all, say, to the Sarikecili tribe living in the Taurus Mountains. This difference consists of numerous composite elements, but in this case what is more important is who has the occasion to represent the other; to photograph and tell stories.

This privilege is a benefit to those who are looking for a new language “to make cultural diversity in Turkey visible and intelligible” via the Ebru project (one can also add controllable: knowledge/power relationship). At the same time, it is obvious that “cultural diversity”, deprived of historical-geographic depth – also through the magic word ebru – frequently becomes a euphemism for those ethnic, religious and social conflicts and contradictions that are in abundant supply in Turkey today.

Turkey’s European prospects, that Ebru wants us to believe, those ideas, values and beliefs related to this prospect that the project participants, in this or that way, identify themselves with, convey definite orientalist underpinnings to the project. The representation of ethnicities and their cultures as “reflections” remove them from the cultural context, depriving them of local traits and history. They need a western gaze to be represented, to validate their existence. According to Durak, it’s as if the people looking at his camera lens wanted to say, “We exist and we are here.” For Berger, those cultures (tribal groups) are equated to the elements of nature, where love and hate, the same and the other, the eternally repeating mix and transformation are “natural” prehistoric realities, free of social and political conflicts and objectives.

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