The State of Ata, an Artists’ Book: My Turk­ish I.D. Card

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Short:Circuit: Cross Border Communications in New Media Between US and Turkey

Presentation Title:

  • The State of Ata, an Artists’ Book: My Turk­ish I.D. Card

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Panel: Short:Circuit:  Cross Border Communications in New Media Between US and Turkey

    The State of Ata is a vi­sual book about the so­cial themes that de­fine con­tem­po­rary Turkey and that specif­i­cally ex­am­ines the im­agery of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader after World War I. This is a crit­i­cal vi­sual ex­plo­ration on the mean­ing of Atatürk’s im­agery and how it is used in Turk­ish so­ci­ety today. He is seen as the link to West­ern cul­ture. His image is being used as a sym­bol in op­po­si­tion to the Is­lamist po­lit­i­cal move­ment. For the new Turk­ish Re­pub­lic the sym­bolic image of Atatürk is the icon that con­nects the cit­i­zen to the image of a mod­ern Turkey. His image per­vades Turk­ish life. A va­ri­ety of iconic im­ages com­mu­ni­cate the mil­i­tary hero, fa­ther of the coun­try, vi­sion­ary thinker, plan­ner, teacher, re­li­gious leader, even fash­ion model, as he moved to rein­vent every facet of Turk­ish life in­clud­ing mode of dress.

    With the pre­sent-day strug­gle be­tween sec­u­lar­ists, fas­cists, na­tion­al­ists, Is­lamists, and the mil­i­tary, there is an in­creas­ing in­ter­est in using the image of Atatürk as an em­blem for every po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion. This work also rec­og­nizes the po­lit­i­cal bat­tles within Turk­ish cul­ture that re­volve around fem­i­nine po­lit­i­cal fash­ion, the wear­ing of the scarf and even more ex­tremely, the wear­ing of the black çarsaf. Re­li­gious dress has be­come a po­lit­i­cal state­ment that coun­ter­points the sex­u­ally evoca­tive styles from Eu­rope and the West. This is an artists’ book in its con­cep­tion and de­sign that weaves to­gether pho­tographs, in­ter­views, artists’ in­ter­ven­tions and archival im­agery. It is a crit­i­cal vi­sual ex­plo­ration on the mean­ing of Ataturk’s im­agery and how it is used in Turk­ish so­ci­ety today. Dur­ing a twelve year pe­riod be­tween 1997 and 2009, Mike Man­del and Chan­tal Za­kari, two artists, one Turk­ish, one Amer­i­can, have be­come en­gaged in this pro­ject to bet­ter un­der­stand this con­flict. In this pre­sen­ta­tion Chan­tal Za­kari (one of the two artists) will speak about iden­tity is­sues in re­la­tion­ship to her Turk­ish-Lev­an­tine her­itage.

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