The wave of demonstrations that developed out of the Gezi Park sit-ins manifested a form of aesthetic creativity that employed transvaluation and displacement in a way that set them apart from other protests in Turkey and the Arab world. Transvaluation and displacement were arguably among the primary forces that drove the protests following the forceful breakup of the Gezi Park sit-ins. The protests began when police forcefully removed sleeping demonstrators from Gezi Park. To most observers, the police use of violence to clear the park was deemed disproportionate, and the resistance countered the tear gas, truncheons, water cannons, and detentions with a level of aesthetic intensity that surprised detractors as well as supporters. The primary aim of the movement was to protect a park in the center of Istanbul, but the resistance represented a broad coalition of those who opposed what they perceived as the autocratic ruling style of then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They ranged from anti-capitalist Muslims to students who simply opposed the Prime Minister’s Islamification of the Turkish public sphere. Examining the way in which transvalution and displacement were used as a response to the force employed by riot police at the direction of the Turkish government shows how political art was employed effectively in the Gezi Park protests.
Public space directs how we live and act, how we socialize and even protest. If there is no community and solidarity there is no city, no civilization; there can only be a »city-state« as the modern version of an empire, says Murat Germen, photographer known for his critical view on the home-town of Istanbul. Muta-morphosis, probably one of his most famous series, uses digital manipulation to show a dark vision of future cities: buildings cramed together as in a strange and dangerous mutation process, almost melting as objects in Dali’s paintings. Through his artworks, text and lectures, Murat Germen criticizes excessive urbanization, motivated by capital and not by human needs. He also documented Gezi Park protests, in which the political aspect of managing the city became very apparent. His photos can be understood as a visual protest and Murat Germen thinks some of them may turn into visual evidence of the urban crime committed by the present Turkish government since 2002, when it came to power.
In the Semiotics of the Protest performed video, I visually examine the key significance of the body and its language for the materialization of the street protest, the vital tool by means of which people reclaim public space and activate it as a political terrain. The video is based on a performance for which I invited a volunteer dancer to “rehearse” public gestures of resistance against oppression. Challenging dominant representations of protestors as “mobs” and protestors’ bodies as irrational and uncontrollable entities, in this performed video, I visually analyse the political demonstration as choreographic tactics executed by bodies which are meaningful and purposeful and which, through their gestures, move forward to social change.
This paper investigates the conditions in which photojournalistic images of the past are becoming iconic and it also traces the ways in which such images actively negotiate the meanings of particular events. Starting from Robert Hariman and John Lucaites’ iconic photography methodology (2007), this research aims to clarify how iconicity operates in specific situations defined by cultural and digital circumstances. The proposed case study analyses the photographs of the events known as Miners’ Raids that took place in Bucharest, Romania in the aftermath of the December 1989 Revolution. First, through a close reading of the aesthetic qualities of the photographic composition, I investigate how images themselves are sites where meaning is produced and how they have the power to sustain multiple and sometimes contradictory semiotic transcriptions. Second, I trace the circulation and appropriation of these photographs to argue their capacity to generate debates and absorb new meanings in the course of their afterlives. The purpose is to understand how photography can work as a distinct category that can articulate complex ideas, judgments, and dialogue.
Zigzagging through personal memory and historical episodes of great consequence – the fall of the Berlin wall, the Romanian revolution and the April 2018 protests in Nicaragua – the essay seeks points of connection between the personal and the political, exploring how the two are intimately and inextricably intertwined. The textual approach can be situated in-between historical analysis and auto-biographical fiction; the aim is to enable multi-layered narratives, and contrasting, conflicting temporalities to co-exist. Illustrative of this intent, Romanian artist Călin Man intervenes upon the more well-known documentary photographs referenced in the text, by conflating them with everyday snapshots from the city of Arad taken at different points along the temporal arc described.
Contribution focuses on the series Travelling Through the Territory by Brazilian photographer, Gabriel Uchida, in collaboration with the Uru-eu-wau-wau. In the interview, his experience living and collaborating with the Native peoples of the Amazon, the political climate in Brazil and the unsettling feeling towards the destruction of the Amazon are discussed. Brazil’s historical narrative has largely situated itself in contraposition to Indigenous narratives, which are often marginalized and submerged to a time immemorial. Illegal land invasions, death threats and injustice are on the rise, heightened by the damaging rhetoric of President Bolsonaro. Today, the Indigenous population is inseparable from resistance and protest, photography lends itself as a tool for self-defense and preservation. Besides cameras, the Internet is largely accessible, compact (smartphones) and provides direct contact with global audiences, contributing to the circulation of information and unbiased narratives.