As the Ottoman Empire Turns: Taner Ceylan on Occupy Gezi and Turkish Taboos / Hyperallergic

The now infamous image by Reuters photographer Osman Orsal was taken in Istanbul last week in the midst of protests against Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to raze a public park to build a mall. (photo via reuters.com)

The now infamous image by Reuters photographer Osman Orsal was taken in Istanbul last week in the midst of protests against Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to raze a public park to build a mall. (photo via reuters.com)

CHICAGO — Turkey erupted last month with people occupying Gezi Park to protest a project that would have pedestrianized Taksim, Istanbul’s main square. Prime Minister Recey Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to rip apart the park, which in the last few decades has been a site of protests and political change, to transform it into a commercial center. Turkish media largely blacked out the news; CNNTürk aired a documentary about penguins rather than cover police officers tear-gassing protestors. As Hyperallergic’s own Jesse Honsawrites:

” … the protest was an effort to save a part by occupying that very park; it was not a symbolic or ideological demonstration like Occupy Wall Street movements, but a primal struggle between human bodies and bulldozers, that made the political discourse all the more potent.”

We reported extensively on the goings on in Taksim during the protests, and the responses in both New York City and at the Venice Biennale. Increasingly, artists and social media became the leading source of news, offering a more diverse source of information to the people of Turkey and the world at large.

German-born, Istanbul-based Turkish artist Taner Ceylan, a prominent Turkish artist whose work deals with the hidden histories of the Ottoman Empire, was on hand as the political upheavals in Istanbul exploded. Nearly one month later, the energy in Gezi Park has quieted, and pacifists continue their work. We reached Ceylan by Skype phone and talked with him about his reactions to what is happening in Istanbul now, and his upcoming solo exhibition Lost Paintings Series at New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery this fall , where he will show paintings that examine the histories that the Turkey selectively chose to erase from the cultural memory.

Read the interview on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/75561/as-the-ottoman-empire-turns-taner-ceylan-on-occupy-gezi-and-turkish-taboos/