A bar in Eskişehir, a Turkish college town heavily involved in the recent protests, has decided to update the “men” and “women” signs on their bathroom doors. On the left is the famous “Woman in a red dress,” who was pepper-sprayed by riot cops, saturated really, yet refused to move an inch.
On the right, dancer Erdem Gündüz, known more famously as “standing man.” Similarly stoic Gündüz stood for eight hours in Taksim Square, silent and immobile. The theme of resilience is the strength of the iconography, and it’s certainly something to boost the morale after a few drinks, when our maudlin tendencies to despair are at their most insidious.
The artist has requested anonymity, so the art remains a discreet proclamation of solidarity, and a reminder that wry dissent is still alive and well in Turkey. Below, you can see the original photographs.
As the Taksim Square demonstrations escalated into police riots, Turkish television ignored the major event and instead broadcast a documentary on penguins. The penguin became a symbol of the gutlessness of Turkish media.
Turkish-American artist Mirgun Akyavas has been photographing street art and graffiti, from Calcutta to Cleveland, for the past three decades. Last month she went home to Istanbul to participate in a retrospective of her father Erol’s art at the Istanbul Modern museum. When the Taksim Square demonstrations and police riots erupted, Akyavas was there. In these photos, she shows us some of the residue of resistance.
Civil unrest often finds its expression on the walls of the city, particularly when the media is as suppressed as that of Turkey’s. Graffiti and street art become the headlines, not found on newsprint but on cement and brick. A can of Krylon and a stencil become the medium of the people, often coarse, frequently funny and generally angry.
Akyavas took these photos exclusively for Dangerous Minds. She’s become our resident photo-journalist. She’s also my wife.
“The people’s gas.”
“Erdogan The Joker.”
“Love is an organized group.”
The calm between the storms.
“Tayyip get lost.”
“Let the people eat pepper gas.” Tayyip Antoinette.
“Instead of having 3 children, plant 3 trees.”
“Sex, drugs and revolution.”
“We are proud of our revolutionary lawyers.” Honoring the lawyers that have been representing arrested protesters for free.
All photographs by Mirgun Akyavas. Feel free to share them but please credit the photographer and Dangerous Minds.
Yinanc: Well it’s not a secret that the prime minister is a conservative person. He is a pious Muslim and I think in his mentality he has some kind of a standard definition of how Turkey should be, how the citizens should behave.
So, more and more he is trying to impose his vision of how people should behave, how Turkey should be upon the people.
Press TV: But, is that a democracy as you used the word correctly, imposing his will regardless of what his personal beliefs may or may not be. In a democracy, should it not be decided by the people themselves?
So, as you had said that he is going more and more in this authoritarian direction. Do you think that we are going to continue seeing protests like we have already witnessed. Or, do you think that it will put enough pressure on the prime minister that we will see him backing down from some of these decisions that he has made?
Yinanc: Well it is very hard to say. What I can say is that this is huge. It has been a long time since we have seen anything like that. There is this huge civil disobedience movement going on in Turkey.
Let me add that although the Turkish prime minister has implied that these are marginal groups, throughout the day, I have been in the streets, and really there is nothing marginal about these groups. They don’t carry anything. They have no violent intentions. They are just coming to protest at what they see as interference to their lifestyle.
At the end of the day, this comes as an ideological problem, because more and more people feel that the government has been too much interfering with their lifestyle and over the years this was coming step-by-step, but there was not this kind of organized reaction. So this is really a first and there is no one group dominating these demonstrators. Really everybody that has an iPhone or an internet have heard it and have come out.
So it is not representing any particular political party, but it is of course hard to say whether this will continue because - as I said - it is not oriented or organized by certain groups. It is really a lot of people coming there by their own. So it is hard to guess whether this will continue like that or not.
In an interview with Turkish state television, Prime Minister Erdogan rejected claims he was a “dictator” and said he was “committed to serving the nation.” He also said Twitter was “a curse,” and that “social media as a whole is a pain in the side of society.”
However, it should be noted that if Erdogan is serious about entering the EU, he will not be able to use excessive force to quell demonstrations, as this would breach the Human Rights of his citizens—which are guaranteed by the EU.
Urgent steps must be taken by the Turkish authorities to prevent further deaths and injuries and allow protesters access to their fundamental rights, as well as ensuring the security of all members of the public, Amnesty International said following reports of more than 1,000 injuries and at least two deaths of protesters in Istanbul.
Amnesty International kept its office, which is close to the Taksim area of Istanbul, open as a safe haven for protesters escaping police violence throughout the night. Twenty doctors are currently in the office and treating injured protestors. Other civil society organizations have taken similar actions.
“Excessive use of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International for Europe.
Today, across Europe, solidarity demonstrations in support of the protesters have also taken place in Belgium, Spain and Germany. According to Euronews:
Holding up anti-government banners and chanting “Resign,” the crowds called for Turkish premier Tayyip Erdogan to step down from what many now see as his increasingly authoritarian rule.
One protestor in Brussels told euronews, “We would like to get rid of this government first and get more freedom, freedom of speech. And at the end of it all, we’d like a better government, perhaps with the ideas of Ataturk, which we’ve had in the past.”
If the world comes to an end, model Naomi Campbell and her nearest and dearest will have no trouble surviving in this 25 roomed eco-home. Designed by and a birthday gift from one of our favorite new architects Luis de Garrido, the glass domed house is completely energy and water self-sufficient and features an amazing indoor landscaped terrace. Everything about this house is a dream: its comfortable microclimate, its constant flow of air, light and heat when necessary, its superior landscaping, and of course the fact that it was built on the Isla Playa de Cleopatra in Turkey (notice the Egyptian theme.)
So far people have been referring to this house as “Horus House” but surely “House of Horus” is more appropriate?
Almost 14 years after his death, William S Burroughs is on trial for corrupting Turkish morality. The Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into Burroughs’ novel The Soft Machine, which was recently translated and published by Sel Publishing House in January. Tukey’s English Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review reports:
The court referred to a report written by the Prime Ministry’s Council for Protecting Minors from Explicit Publications that accused the novel, The Soft Machine, of “incompliance with moral norms” and “hurting people’s moral feelings.” Sel Publishing issued a press release that included parts of their testimony in the court.
“It is impossible to understand the insistence in sending books written and published for adults to councils that specialize in minors. If we consider things from this perspective, then dozens of such reports could be written about TV channels, newscasts and thousands of books,” read the testimony given by the publishing house.
The testimony also argued that the Prime Ministry’s council had no credentials in literature, aesthetics or translation, thus causing what the representatives of the publishing house called a “freakish” decision by the council.
The council also accused the novel of “lacking unity in its subject matter,” “incompliance with narrative unity,” for “using slang and colloquial terms” and “the application of a fragmented narrative style,” while claiming that Burroughs’s book contained unrealistic interpretations that were neither personal nor objective by giving examples from the lifestyles of historical and mythological figures. None of the above, argued the publishing house, constitutes a criminal act.
The council went further and said, “The book does not constitute a literary piece of work in its current condition,” adding it would add nothing new to the reader’s reservoir of knowledge, and argued the book developed “attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity.”
The representatives of the publishing house responded to these charges. “Just as no writer is under any special obligation to highlight humanity’s fair attributes under every circumstance, the measure of whether a book has any literary value or not, and the judge of what the book may add to the reader’s reservoir of knowledge, is not an official state institution, but the reader himself,” they said.
“Once again, societies comprised of modern, creative and inquisitive individuals are formed by reading and being exposed to literary texts and works of art that can be considered as the most extreme examples of their kind,” further asserted the defendants’ statement.
The testimony also invited members of the council to conduct “a simple Internet research” about the writer, and learn about the fact that Burroughs was one of the pioneers the “Beat Generation” that rebelled against the stagnant morality of the middle class in post-World War II America. The testimony also drew attention to the fact that the “cut-up” technique used in the book was once heralded as a great novelty among literary circles.
“Through this technique, Burroughs runs counter, not just to entrenched attitudes in people’s lifestyles but also in contradiction to [older] literary techniques. That being the case and since the aim of the book itself is to push boundaries, it is clearly absurd to search for criminal elements in the book by suggesting that the book does not conform with social norms,” further stated the press release.
“Moreover, it is also meaningless to expect William S. Burroughs, who was not raised in accordance with the National Education Law, or as an individual who ‘identifies with the national, moral, humanitarian, material and spiritual cultural values of Turkish society, and who always tries to exalt his family, country and nation,’ to have produced a text within this framework,” read the testimony. “It is clear and obvious that this case carries no weight nor any respectability outside of the borders of our country.”
“We demand an end to investigations that constrain our activities and the prosecution of books for any reason whatsoever,” concluded the statement.
Bonus: William Burroughs reads ‘Junky’ (abridged version)
As the art of urban projection has grown, its scope has started blasting out into contexts beyond simply pretty pictures on building. Yekpare is one of the most amazing pieces in the format that I’ve seen yet. Art-directed by Deniz Kader and Candaş Şişman of the firm Nerdworking and soundtracked by Görkem Şen, Yekpare is a project that douses Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa Train Station in the symbological 8,500 year history of the city. From the writeup:
The story embraces symbols from Pagans to Roman Empire, from Byzantine Empire to Latin Empire, and finally from Ottoman Empire to Istanbul at the present day…
Haydarpaşa Train Station, with its brilliant architectural forms, is the building on which the story is projected. The connection between middle east to west has been provided by Istanbul and Haydarpaşa since 1906..
The project’s conceptual, political and geographical positioning, the location’s depth of field and the fact that the entire show can be watched from Kadıköy coast; make “Yekpare” a dramatic presentation.
This is the most disgusting thing ever. Even if I wasn’t a vegetarian it would be disgusting. In LA they sell hot dogs wrapped in bacon on the street. Sometimes when I am drunk I am tempted by them. But I never give in. And this, this. I would never be tempted by this. Tempted to do anything other than laugh. And laugh. Oh, Turbaconducken. You so crazy.
The above clip from Mexican television exposes a new wrinkle in the drug-smuggling game sure to be popping up on next season’s Weeds: the use of turkeys as drug mules. According to my Google-translated Spanish, traffickers apparently anesthetized the turkeys, then “introduced into their bodies” all the illegal merchandise (in this case, roughly 3 kilograms of baggied heroin).
The birds were next transported via bus to Trujillo, where their unusual weight drew the attention of Federal agents. Thankfully, though (and you can see it in the clip), a veterinarian was summoned to withdraw the baggies, sparing the turkeys further harm (for now). WARNING: the above clip is NOT for the squeamish.