Posts tagged ‘Atilla Durak’

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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June 11, 2011

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.

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