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Davutpaşa Mid 3
24/11/2012 @ 08:00 - 23/12/2012 @ 17:00
24 November – 23 December 2012
The morning of September 12, 1980… Prisoners, many of them not yet in their twenties, are woken up by announcements blasting over the sound system: “Armenians, Greeks, communists and traitors shall be brought to account!” Nothing would ever be the same again for these young men, who risked their lives in the name of a struggle for “beautiful, sunny days”…
Davutpaşa Mid 3 presents portraits of 42 human beings who shared their fate in the Mid 3 ward of Davutpaşa Military Prison in the lead-up to and aftermath of the 12 September 1980 military coup d’état, that left an indelible mark on the recent history of Turkey.
The old inmates were treated by Ahmet Sel as if they were in a time tunnel, on a stage constructed somewhere between the past and the future. The places where the photographs have been taken not only contain details regarding the past and present of the people in the portraits, but also feature clues that point towards the world beyond that field, for instance, towards the transformation of Turkey. Thus, a family album striving to exist in memory, begins to exist in the reality of the present as a document that has been handed down from the past.
The Mid 3 ward, now used as an art studio by a university (Şahin Arslan); the asphalt road that has taken the place of teahouses along the shore, and the coastline that gradually moves further away (Mustafa Taluğ); the hills of Dragos, once a place to visit to find solitude in the years after coming out of prison, but now covered with kitsch villas of the wealthy classes (Sefer Atalay); a five-storey building in Sefaköy, erected in place of a police department once used as a torture house (Kemal Işık); and memories revived at the side of one’s mother, who also signs of the passing of troublesome times (Kazım Rençberoğlu)… The photograph of Erhan Tüskan, who after long years spent in prison settled in the Netherlands and felt alienated to his own city, was taken at the edge of a city, in an area that was once covered with fields, but is now filled with skyscrapers!
The portraits in these constructed places are an opportunity to face-off, both for the viewer, and the person who has been photographed. “Which traces of youth remain?” is one question that comes to mind. The shadow of an old code of conduct -the way the legs have been crossed, the tesbih [worry beads] in one hand, the challenging manner of a certain slant, or the weathered look emanating from a crestfallen glance? The people in the portraits are left facing their own reality, their present condition and their own mortality in these photographs. Even the negatives on which the portraits are recorded on, the paper they are printed on, and the wood of their frames will last longer than these lives enriched with dedication and complexity.
Despite the passing of time, lives lived in the past continue to influence the present. The deep traces of the past determine the flow of the present.
The objects that were made by the prisoners during their imprisonment and their photographs from those times can also be seen in the exhibition. The book Davutpaşa Mid 3 published by Aras Publishing will be available at the opening.
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