Responsive image

City Horizon, 120 x 120 cm, 2008

Digital c-print, 120 x 120 cm, 2008

Taking on Taksim Square as a subject, especially from a photographic perspective, is an arduous one, to put it mildly. A space that has been contested both socially and politically for decades, Taksim Square has witnessed the transformation of Turkey and its non-official capital and the host to almost one third of its population, Istanbul.

To highlight just two important historic moments of Taksim Square would be appropriate to give an idea of what the square has stood up for. The first is May 1, 1977, when over 30 people died in the bloodiest May 1st of the country in stampedes and shootings. The second is May 30, 2013, which could be defined as the beginning of the Gezi Protests, a movement that is singular in the Middle East, as the instigation of it was to protect the Gezi Park—a most peaceful and universal theme. Taksim Square is closed on May 1sts up until this day and in the state of exception that envelopes the country, peaceful protests like Gezi are a far away notion.

Taksim Square is also the center of the modern city in contrast to the historic peninsula, symbolizing a rise of Turkey as a modern nation. It has always been the stage for Turkey’s political trajectory.

The circular, photographic image is based on over 200 photographs, proposing an “artificial” horizon line. The void in the middle symbolizes the “emptiness” of the stage, while it can also be interpreted as a blank that our minds as viewers are free to fill in. The “real” horizon line of the sea is only visible through the one point that looks on to the Bosporus.

It is important to note that the work was realized in 2008, before Taksim Square and Gezi Park became global symbols of peaceful protests. The potential of the square relates to the potential of people to come together to make a statement. The circular form of the image also links to the cyclical nature of history, offering simultaneously hope and disheartenment.