Posts Tagged ‘the modern city

10
Nov
19

European photographic research tour exhibition: ‘Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul’ at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Exhibition dates: 29th May – 17th November 2019

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

 

“A moment of experience”

This is the first of my catch up postings on exhibitions and art I saw during my European art and photographic research tour.

I know very little about the history of Turkish photography, and knew nothing of the work of “The eye of Istanbul”, Ara Güler, before I saw this exhibition.

Visually, Güler’s images are atmospheric renditions of people and place, grounding the representation of a city in the people who live and work there. They share a mainly male gaze, a patriarchal perspective on the treasured secrets of Istanbul, for this perspective is how the culture at that time (and possibly now?) was structured.

Güler’s visual histories of rare and subtle perception, “make visible the unseen, the unknown, and the forgotten.”1 They implicate “the urban discourse as a system in which culture enlists the medium (of photography) for representational tasks – nation building, identity construction, city scapes2,” highlighting photography’s ineradicable role for interpretation in the construction of knowledge and memory.3

As the press release states, Güler’s photographs have made a very significant contribution to the formation of the public’s collective imagination and memories of the city, but these memories of the city can only ever be reflections of concepts of identity that have developed across the social spectrum from within the self, within the culture, and within the political arena. One informs the other.

Güler’s cityscapes can only be a partial representation of what a city was and what it was moving to become. Paraprashing Eyelet Carmi when she talks of Sally Mann’s landscape photographs of the Deep South of America, we might say that the urban landscape, the photograph shows us, is never a neutral space. It is always historically constructed, politically used and emotionally complex.4 It is where national history is mediated by and intertwines with patriarchal assumptions, emotions, memories and personal experiences of everyday life. The personal is national and vice versa, for “the notion of home and place (national and personal alike) is inevitably unfixed, unstable and partial.”5

In an erudite and instructive piece of writing by Zeynep Uğur, “After Ara Güler: Capturing the Feeling of Loss in Modernizing Istanbul”, an extract of which is presented below, Uğur expertly places Güler’s photographs in the era of their composition, filling in the cultural background that surrounds their creation… depictions of the urban poor and their small routines – smoking, having a cup of tea, coffee, or an alcoholic drink – mainly men in their coffee shops and old fashioned bars, enacting traditions that have not changed for centuries, swept up in the modernisation of the city. “An emotional relation is established between people and the space they inhabit by enacting the space in the body and the body in the public sphere, hence humanizing the city and spatially contextualizing the people. As Jacques Lecoq announces in his pedagogy of movement in theater, only the body engaged in the work can feel, and thus reflect the evidence of the space. Güler’s urban poor portrayed in their work express the social reality with their bodies.”6

Where I disagree with Uğur is in her proposal that that these men, who are “waiting” instead of actively circulating or producing, proffer “a sense of disbelonging, being removed from the context, being out of place, a sense of invisibility, immobility and arbitrariness.”7 In other words, a sense of alienation from the existence and surroundings in which they find themselves (alienation of the individual in modernity is a trope that goes back to the beginnings of Romanticism). Uğur proposes that Güler’s photographs possess hüzün, “a feeling of melancholia, nostalgia and loss in a multilayered city where multiple spatialities and temporalities are superposed. Guler’s photography reflects this singularity of Istanbul, its vibe and the ambiance experienced when wandering in the city.”8

This idea of a singularity is a very modernist way of perceiving the world. In this singular world a unified self can be easily alienated from itself (through concepts such as social alienation, the alienated body (Sartre), the phenomenologists’ ‘body for others’, the objectified body, the social body), and objectified by the gaze and discourse of others.9 “… Marx expresses his conceptualization of the state of alienation as a loss of sensuous fulfilment, poorly replaced by a pride of possession, and a lack of self-consciousness and hence actualization of one’s own real desires and abilities.”10 Leading to the feelings of melancholia, nostalgia and loss allegedly seen in the work of Ara Güler.

Postmodernism on the other hand sees no decentering of the self from the centre to the periphery for there is no centre, no periphery, only fragmentation. Fredric Jameson wrote that, “in the postmodern world, the subject is not alienated but fragmented. He explained that the notion of alienation presumes a centralized, unitary self who could become lost to himself or herself. But if, as a postmodernist sees it, the self is decentred and multiple, the concept of alienation breaks down. All that is left is an anxiety of identity.”11 Through the fragmentation of the subject the “existential model of “authenticity” and “inauthenticity” is thus challenged.”12 When there is no centre, no periphery – where one cannot move to the centre because there is no unified centre – there can be no unified self and therefore no alienation or, alien nation. There is no unified self, no appeal to nostalgia and melancholy, for the people in the photographs just are: and this is my point here, Güler was a visual archivist who documented life as it exists, not how we now look back on those times through the misty eyes of loss.

All we are left with, then, is the fact that Güler’s photographs are “a moment of experience” which document change not loss. His photographs document people and places that are not being lost (for that proposes a unified perspective), but images which picture an anxiety (and presence) in their radical potential, in their political context, which is both then and now – the receiver (the subject) and the viewer recognising the categories of perception and appreciation as it applies to him or her.13 An experience, existence and anxiety that is both then and now. As Garry Winogrand has observed, “The photograph isn’t what was photographed. It’s something else. It’s a new fact.” Time after time, again and again.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,040

.
Many thankx to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All iPhone images © Marcus Bunyan and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

 

  1. Marianne Fulton, Eyes of Time: Photojournalism in America, Boston: Little, Brown, 1988, p. 107
  2. -scape. a combining form extracted from landscape, with the meaning “an extensive view, scenery,” or “a picture or representation” of such a view, as specified by the initial element: cityscape; moonscape
  3. Alison Winter, Memory: Fragments of a Modern History. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2012, p. 5
  4. Ayelet Carmi, “Sally Mann’s American vision of the land,” in Journal of Art Historiography Number 17 December 2017, p. 25
  5. Ibid., p. 13
  6. Zeynep Uğur, “After Ara Güler: Capturing the Feeling of Loss in Modernizing Istanbul,” on the Ajam Media Collective website 26 November 2018 [Online] Cited 22/10/2019
  7. Ibid.,
  8. Ibid.,
  9. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness. London: Methuen, 1969, pp. 339-351
  10. Harry Brod, “Pornography and the Alienation of Male Sexuality,” in Kimmel, Michael and Messner, Michael. Men’s Lives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1989, p. 397
  11. Sherry Turkle, Life on The Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995, p. 49
  12. Katarzyna Marciniak, “Introduction,” in Fredric Jameson. Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of late Capitalism. Duke University Press, 1991
  13. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. (trans. Richard Nice). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986, p. 207

 

 

‘I believe that photography is a form of magic by which a moment of experience is seized for transmission to future generations,’ Güler once said when asked to explain his art

 

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Ara Güler' Nd

 

Anonymous photographer
Ara Güler
Nd
Gelatin silver print
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation views of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation views of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

 

Istanbul Modern, in collaboration with the Ara Güler Museum, presents an exhibition of works by Ara Güler, “the man who writes history with his camera.” Titled “Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul” the exhibition follows the changes that have taken place in the city since the 1950s, and is open to public between May 29 – November 17, 2019.

A collaboration between Istanbul Modern and the Ara Güler Museum, the exhibition draws on the archives of both institutions to portray the changes that have taken place in the city from the mid-20th century to the present.

It also shows the influential role of Ara Güler’s photographs in the development of the public’s collective memory of Istanbul following these changes.

All signed by him

The exhibition brings together photographs from different periods that were signed by him, as well as various dark room prints, objects and ephemera from the archives of the Istanbul Modern Photography Collection and the Ara Güler Museum, and maps that situate the works in different neighbourhoods and angles. As a whole, the exhibition aims to address the relationship between photography and a photographer’s subjectivity through the works of Güler, who defines himself as a photojournalist and photojournalists as “people who write history with their cameras.”

When it comes to Istanbul, Ara Güler’s photographs have made a very significant contribution to the formation of the public’s collective imagination and memories of the city. The exhibition combines Ara Güler’s photographs, which invite viewers to look at them again and again, with archival materials in order to highlight Güler’s practice as well as his role in the creation of our perception of Istanbul.

Curated by Demet Yıldız, Photography Department Manager at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, with Umut Sülün, Manager of the Ara Güler Museum and Research Center, acting as consultant, the exhibition can be visited until November 17. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, there will be talks and various programs that focus on the city and collective memory.

 

About Ara Güler

As a youth he was greatly influenced by the cinema, and while in high school he worked at film studios in every branch of the industry. In 1951 Güler graduated from the Getronagan Armenian High School and began training in theatre and acting under Muhsin Ertugrul, aspiring to be either a director or a scriptwriter. At that time, some of his stories were published in literary magazines and Armenian newspapers. He continued his education in the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University. However, on deciding to become a photojournalist, he left the university and completed his military service.

He began his journalism career with the newspaper Yeni İstanbul in 1950. He became a photojournalist for Time Life in 1956, and for Paris Match and Stern in 1958. Around the same time, the Magnum Agency started distributing his photographs internationally. One of his first features was on the ruins of Noah’s Ark, and more than one hundred of those photographs were distributed by Magnum. Also during these years he reported on Mount Nemrut, introducing it to the world. Another of his important features was on the rediscovery of the forgotten city of Aphrodisias, through which it likewise was revealed to the world.

From 1956 until 1961 Güler headed the photography section of Hayat magazine. In the 1961 edition of the British Journal of Photography Year Book, he was named one of the seven best photographers in the world. That same year he was accepted as a member of the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) and was its only Turkish member. In 1962 he received the Master of Leica award in Germany and was the subject of a special issue of the journal Camera, then the most important photography publication in the world. His works were exhibited at the “Man and His World” show in Canada in 1967; and at the Photokina Fair in Cologne in 1968. He took the photographs for Lord Kinross’s book about Hagia Sophia, published in 1971.

His photograph was on the cover of the English, French, and German editions of the book Picasso: Métamorphose et Unité, published by Skira on the occasion of Picasso’s ninetieth birthday. In 1974 Güler was invited to the United States, where he photographed many famous personalities; the images were later exhibited under the title Creative Americans in many cities around the world. Also in 1974 he made a documentary film called End of a Hero about the scrapping of the battle cruiser Yavuz. His photographs on art and art history were used in articles in Time-Life, Horizon, and Newsweek, and published around the world by Skira. Starting in 1989 Güler joined the project A Day in the Life of… and collaborated with some the world’s most famous photographers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

In 1992 his photographs of the great architect Mimar Sinan’s works, which he had been working on for many years, were published under the title Sinan, Architect of Süleyman the Magnificent in France by Editions Arthaud, and in the United States and the UK by Thames & Hudson. In the same year his book Living in Turkey was published by Thames & Hudson in the United States and the UK, in Singapore by Archipelago under the title Turkish Style, and as Demeures Ottomanes de Turquie by Albin Michel in France.

In 2002, France decorated Güler with the Legion d’Honneur Officier des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2009 he received La Médaille de la Ville Paris from the city of Paris. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Yıldız Technical University in 2004, Mimar Sinan Fine Art University in 2013, and Boğaziçi University in 2014; the Presidential Culture and Arts Grand Award in 2005; the Award for Service to Culture and the Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2008; and the Outstanding Service Award of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 2009. Also in 2009 he received a lifetime achievement award from the Lucie Foundation in the United States.

Hundreds of exhibitions all over the world have featured Güler’s work, and his images have been published in dozens of books. Güler interviewed and photographed numerous celebrities, from Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill to Arnold Toynbee, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. As an outcome of the partnership created between Güler and Doğuş Group, two art institutions, Ara Güler Museum and Ara Güler Archives and Research Center, have opened their doors to visitors in Istanbul.

Ara Güler passed away on October 17, 2018, at the age of ninety.

Text from the Istanbul Modern Photography Gallery website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Taşlıtarla, Gaziosmanpaşa' 1959

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Taşlıtarla, Gaziosmanpaşa
1959
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Feriköy' (installation view) 1985

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Feriköy (installation view)
1985
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Galata' (installation view) 1950

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Galata (installation view)
1950
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Hallç, Vapuru'nda [In the Golden Horn Ferry]' (installation view) 1969

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Hallç, Vapuru’nda [In the Golden Horn Ferry] (installation view)
1969
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Persembe Pazan, Karaköy [Thursday Market, Karaköy]' (installation view) 1957

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Persembe Pazan, Karaköy [Thursday Market, Karaköy] (installation view)
1957
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Persembe Pazan, Karaköy [Thursday Market, Karaköy]' 1957

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Persembe Pazan, Karaköy [Thursday Market, Karaköy]
1957
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Hazzopulo Pasajl, Beyoglu [Hazzopulo Passage, Beyoglu]' (installation view) 1958

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Hazzopulo Pasajl, Beyoglu [Hazzopulo Passage, Beyoglu] (installation view)
1958
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Hazzopulo Pasajl, Beyoglu [Hazzopulo Passage, Beyoglu]' 1958

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Hazzopulo Pasajl, Beyoglu [Hazzopulo Passage, Beyoglu]
1958
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Eyüp Sultan Camii [Eyüp Sultan Mosque]' (installation view) 1965

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Eyüp Sultan Camii [Eyüp Sultan Mosque] (installation view)
1965
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Eyüp Sultan Camii [Eyüp Sultan Mosque]' 1965

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Eyüp Sultan Camii [Eyüp Sultan Mosque]
1965
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Tarlabaşi' 1965 (installation view)

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Tarlabaşi (installation view)
1965
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Sirkeci' (installation view) 1956

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Sirkeci (installation view)
1956
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Sirkeci' 1956

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Sirkeci
1956
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Cagaloglu Hamami' (installation view) 1965

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Cagaloglu Hamami (installation view)
1965
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii, Kadirga [Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, Kadirga]' (installation view) 1988

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Camii, Kadirga [Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, Kadirga] (installation view)
1988
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Kandilli [A Bosphorus passenger boat leaving the European shores of Istanbul for the Asian shore]' 1965

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Kandilli [A Bosphorus passenger boat leaving the European shores of Istanbul for the Asian shore]
1965
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Büyükdere' (installation view) 1972

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Büyükdere (installation view)
1972
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Büyükdere' 1972

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Büyükdere (installation view)
1972
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Kandilli' (installation view) 1985

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Kandilli (installation view)
1985
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Kapaliçarsi [The Grand Bazaar]' (installation view) 1972

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Kapaliçarsi [The Grand Bazaar] (installation view)
1972
Gelatin silver print

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Eminönü' (installation view) 1954

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Eminönü (installation view)
1954
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Eminönü' 1954

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Eminönü
1954
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Sehzadebaşı' 1958

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Sehzadebaşı
1958
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection
Photo: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Tahtakale' (installation view) 1966

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Tahtakale (installation view)
1966
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Zeyrek' (installation view) 1974

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Zeyrek (installation view)
1974
Gelatin silver print

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Zeyrek' (installation view) 1960

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Zeyrek (installation view)
1960
Gelatin silver print

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Nightfall in the district of Zeyrek, Istanbul' 1960

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Nightfall in the district of Zeyrek, Istanbul
1960
Gelatin silver print

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Tophane' (installation view) 1954

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Tophane (installation view)
1959
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'A drunk man at a bar in Tophane' 1959

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
A drunk man at a bar in Tophane
1959
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Tophane' (installation view) 1954

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Tophane [Atrium of a house] (installation view)
1954
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Tophane [Atrium of a house]' 1954

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Tophane [Atrium of a house]
1954
Gelatin silver print
Ara Güler Archive and Research Center Collection

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Galata' (installation view) 1955

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Galata (installation view)
1955
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

 

Extract from “After Ara Güler: Capturing the Feeling of Loss in Modernizing Istanbul”

Our focus is Güler’s portrayal of Istanbul in black and white in 1950s and 1960s, where Istanbul appears as a metropole “in progress”, or under construction. As described by the sociologist Nilüfer Göle, in the context of non-Western countries modernization, involves a cultural shift, a process of changing habitus, aesthetic norms, values, and lifestyles in the public sphere. The economic development of the country goes along with this social and cultural transformation. In 1950s and 60s Turkey, the construction of highways and railways connected the national periphery to the center. Istanbul received a mass wave of migration and expanded with slums during this improvised, unplanned urbanization process. The city became the scene where center and periphery, modern and traditional lifestyles encountered, confronted, and transformed one another and found ways to coexist. Urban poverty became an issue with this contrast becoming more and more visible in the city. …

Güler starts from the micro level, photographing people in their small routines: working, smoking, having a cup of tea, coffee, or an alcoholic drink. These people can be defined as the urban poor, not synchronized with the rapid urban growth and the modern ideal of progress. They are portrayed in the public sphere rather than in the intimacy of their private sphere. Their eyes, facial expressions, hands, and postures incarnates their poverty, highlighting modes of being that contrast sharply with the Westernizing public sphere they have entered. An emotional relation is established between people and the space they inhabit by enacting the space in the body and the body in the public sphere, hence humanizing the city and spatially contextualizing the people. As Jacques Lecoq announces in his pedagogy of movement in theater, only the body engaged in the work can feel, and thus reflect the evidence of the space. Güler’s urban poor portrayed in their work express the social reality with their bodies. …

People are also photographed in coffee shops and old fashioned bars where they socialize. Coffee shops have a particular significance in Istanbul’s urban culture, as they emerged as alternative public spheres to mosques in the 16th century. Coffee houses became popular by offering a venue for social occasions including leisure and political dialogue between men in the Ottoman world, thus creating a public culture, as noted by the historian Cemal Kafadar. As gender-mixed modern coffee houses gained popularity, traditional kahvehane became considered places of unproductive time pass activity. These alternative spaces, in turn, become a shelter for men alienated from the emerging modern public sphere and lifestyles. Güler’s men in coffee houses are “waiting”, as the opposite of circulating or producing that increasingly characterized the fast rhythm of the modern city.

In the absence of plans in the present and for the deferred future, a temporal slowing manifests itself. Hence, it points out to a suspension referring to the interruption of social ties, the feeling of being cut-off, a sense of disbelonging, being removed from the context, being out of place, a sense of invisibility, immobility and arbitrariness. These traits resonate with people waiting in the photographs, who seem slightly erased, detached from the space and time surrounding them. Güler’s choice of décor, the Ottoman ruins, emphasizes this detachment by fixing our regard on the remains of the past embodied in the present and the obsolete corners of the city, not “illuminated” yet by the city lights.

Perhaps this is the very reason why Güler’s Istanbul appears as the visual reflection of the Nobel winning author Orhan Pamuk’s description of the grayscale Istanbul, marked by the feeling of hüzün. Comparable to Baudelaire’s description of Paris Spleenhüzün is a feeling of melancholia, nostalgia and loss in a multilayered city where multiple spatialities and temporalities are superposed. Guler’s photography reflects this singularity of Istanbul, its vibe and the ambiance experienced when wandering in the city. Given that urban heritage is never patrimonialized and the events of the imperial and republican past haven’t been confronted, they haunt city’s present. …

Ara Güler might be referred as a Proustian in search of lost time, however his madeleine would be persons; the urban poor in the streets of Istanbul. His quest to seize what is being lost is not an interior process of romanticization, but comes from the external world. He always insisted that he is not an artist who proposes an interpretation of reality, but a visual archivist who documents life as it exists. In his photographs, it is the people who craft the urban sphere by sitting, waiting, settling, investing, appropriating it. Güler composes the cityscape of Istanbul by parting from the margins to join the center, the core of the city. This composition identifies the singularity of Istanbul, hüzün, a feeling of loss of firm ground, a loss of an emotional root, which opens up a wide range of emotions and experiences.

Zeynep Uğur. “After Ara Güler: Capturing the Feeling of Loss in Modernizing Istanbul,” on the Ajam Media Collective website 26 November 2018 [Online] Cited 22/10/2019. Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

Zeynep Uğur Academia website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler's Footsteps in Istanbul' at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ara Güler: Two Archives, One Selection: Tracing Ara Güler’s Footsteps in Istanbul at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018) 'Children playing in Tophane, Istanbul' 1986

 

Ara Güler (Turkish, 1928-2018)
Children playing in Tophane, Istanbul
1986
Gelatin silver print
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Photography Collection

 

 

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Asmalımescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Caddesi, No: 99, Beyoğlu, 34430 İstanbul

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Thursday: 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sunday: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Monday: Closed

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art website

LIKE ART BLACK ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

10
Jan
11

Review: ‘Luminous Cities: Photographs of the Built Environment’ at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd October 2010 – 13th March 2011

 

Eugene Atget. 'Coin de la rue Valette et Pantheon, 5e arrondissement, matinee de mars' 1925, printed 1978

 

Eugene Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Coin de la rue Valette et Pantheon, 5e arrondissement, matinee de mars
1925, printed 1978
Gelatin silver photograph
17.8 x 23.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

A delightful exhibition of photographs of the built environment at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. The exhibition contains some interesting photographs from the collection including the outstanding Coin de la rue Valette et Pantheon, 5e arrondissement, matinee de mars by Eugene Atget taken two years before his death (1925, printed 1978, see below) that simply takes your breath away.

Atget was my hero when I started to study photography in the late 1980s and he remains my favourite photographer. His use of light coupled with his understanding of how to organise space within the pictorial frame is exemplary (note the darkness of the right-hand wall as it supports the integrity of the rest of the image, as it leads your eye to that wonderful space between the buildings, the shaft of light falling on the ground, the blank wall topped by an arrow leading the eye upwards to the misty dome!). The ability to place his large format camera and tripod in just the right position, the perfect height and angle, to allow the subject to reveal itself it all it’s glory is magical: “Atget’s interest in the variable play between nature and art through minute changes in the camera’s angle, or as functions of the effects of light and time of day, is underscored in his notations of the exact month and sometimes even the hour when the pictures were taken.”1 Two other immense works in the exhibition are New York at Night by Berenice Abbott (1932, printed c. 1975) and the incredible multiple exposure The Maypole, Empire State Building, New York by Edward Steichen (1932).

The only disappointment to the exhibition is the lack of vintage prints, a fair portion of the exhibition including the three prints mentioned above being later prints made from the original negatives. I wonder what vintage prints of these images would look like?

The purchasing of non-vintage prints was the paradigm for the collection of international photographs early in the history of the Department of Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria and was seen as quite acceptable at the time. The paradigm was set by Athol Shmith in 1973 on his visit to Paris and London.

“Typically for the times, Shmith did not choose to acquire vintage prints, that is, photographs made shortly after the negative was taken. While vintage prints are most favoured by collectors today, in the 1970s vintage prints supervised by the artists were considered perfectly acceptable and are still regarded as a viable, if less impressive option now.”2

Some museums including the NGV preferred to acquire portfolios of modern reprints as a speedy way of establishing a group of key images. As noted in the catalogue essay to 2nd Sight: Australian Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria by Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria, the reason for preferring the vintage over the modern print “is evident when confronted with modern and original prints: differences in paper, scale and printing styles make the original preferable.”3 The text also notes that this sensibility, the consciousness of these differences slowly evolved in the photographic world and, for most, the distinctions were not a matter of concern even though the quality of the original photograph was not always maintained.

This is stating the case too strongly. Appreciation of the qualities of vintage prints was already high in the period of the mid-1970s – early 1980s most notably at institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, a collection visited by photography curators of the NGV. Size and scale of the vintage prints tend to be much smaller than later prints making them closer to the artists original intentions, while the paper the prints are made on, the contrast and colour of the prints also varies remarkably. Other mundane but vitally important questions may include these: who printed the non-vintage photograph, who authorised the printing and how many non-vintage copies of the original negative were made, none of which are answered when the prints are displayed.

I vividly remember seeing a retrospective of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work in Edinburgh at the Dean Gallery, National Gallery of Scotland in 2005, the largest retrospective of Cartier-Bresson’s work ever staged in Britain with over 200 photographs. Three large rooms were later 1970s reprints of some of his photographs, about 20″ x 24″ in size, on cold, blue photographic paper. One room, however, was full of his original prints from the 1920s and 30s. The contrast could not have been different: the vintage prints were very small, intense, subtle, printed on brown toned paper, everything that you would want those jewel-like images to be, the vision of the artist intensified; the larger prints diluted that vision until the images seemed to almost waste away despite their size.

Although never stated openly I believe that one of the reasons for the purchase of non-vintage prints was the matter of cost, the Department of Photography never being given the budget to buy the prints that it wanted to in the 1970s – early 1980s, the collection of photography not being a priority for the NGV at that time. In other words by buying non-vintage prints in the 1970s you got more “bang for your buck” even when the cost of vintage prints was relatively low. Unfortunately the price of vintage prints then skyrocketed in the 1980s putting them well outside the budget of the Department. While Dr Crombie acknowledges the preponderance of American works in the collection over European and Asian works she also notes that major 20th century photographers that you would expect to be in the collection are not and blames this lack “on the massive increases in prices for international photography that began in the 1980s and which largely excluded the NGV from the market at this critical time.”4

The policy of purchasing non-vintage prints has now ceased at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The purchasing of non-vintage prints and the paucity of purchasing vintage prints by master photographers during the formative decade of the collection of international photographs in the Department of Photography (1970-1980) is understandable in hindsight but today seems like a golden opportunity missed. While the collection contains many fine photographs due to the diligence of early photographic curators (notably Jennie Boddington), the minuscule nature of the budget of the department in those early years when vintage prints were relatively cheap and affordable (a Paul Caponigro print could be purchased for $200-300 for example) did not allow them to purchase the photographs that the collection desperately needed. With one vintage print by a master of photography now fetching many thousands of dollars the ability to fill gaps in the collection in the future is negligible (according to Dr Crombie) – so we must celebrate and enjoy the photographs that are in the collection such as those in Luminous Cities: Photographs of the Built Environment.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

2. Crombie, Isobel. “Creating a Collection: International Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria,” in Re_View: 170 years of Photography. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2009, p. 9
3. Crombie, Isobel. Second sight: Australian photography in the National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2002, p. 10
4. Op.cit. p. 10

.
Many thankx to Jemma Altmeier for her help and to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Stephen Thompson. 'Grande Canale, Venice' c. 1868

 

Stephen Thompson (active throughout Europe, 1850s-80s)
Grande Canale, Venice
c. 1868
Albumen silver photograph
21.2 x 29.2 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission Funds, 1988

 

England 'Houses of Parliament, London' 1860s

 

England (active in England 1860s)
Houses of Parliament, London
1860s
Albumen silver photograph
18.5 x 24.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased from Admission funds, 1988

 

 

On 22 October the National Gallery of Victoria will open Luminous Cities, a fascinating exhibition that examines the various ways photographers have viewed cities as historical sites, bustling modern hubs and architectural utopias since the nineteenth century.

The great cities of the world are vibrant creative centres in which the built environment is often as inspirational as the activities of its citizens, and, since the nineteenth century photographers have creatively explored the idea of the city.

This exhibition, drawn from the collection of the NGV, considers various ways in which photographers in the 19th and 20th centuries have viewed cities as historical sites, bustling modern metropolises and architectural utopias. These lyrical images describe the physical attributes of cities, offer insights into the creative imaginations of architects and photographers and embody the zeitgeist of their times.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “Through the work of a range of photographers Luminous Cities will take viewers on a fascinating journey around the world, into the streets, buildings and former lives of great international cities.

“Drawn from the NGV collection, Luminous Cities includes works by renowned photographers Eugene Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Berenice Abbott, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bill Brandt, Lee Freidlander and Grant Mudford amongst many others.

The exhibition will also extend into our contemporary gallery space where an outstanding selection of works by celebrated contemporary artists such as Bill Henson, Andreas Gursky and Jon Cattapan will be on display,” said Ms Lindsay.

Through examples from the mid 19th century, Luminous Cities explores the relationship between photographer, architect and archaeologist with photos of Athens, Rome and Pompeii. This was also a time when great cities such as London and Paris underwent unprecedented renewal and expansion, photography served to document new constructions and also presented heroic, inspirational visions of new cities emerging from old.

Susan van Wyk, Curator, Photography, NGV said: “The works on display in Luminous Cities describe the physical attributes of cities, offer insights into the creative imaginations of architects and photographers, and embody the zeitgeist of their times.”

New York, one of the great 20th century cities, was a captivating subject for generations of photographers. Through the work of architects and the images photographers made of the city, New York became synonymous with its skyline. The images of renowned photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand and Berenice Abbott show the pictorial possibilities of the modern city in photographs that embody the dynamism of the city that never sleeps.

The contemporary art works included in Luminous Cities explore the creative ways in which artists imagine and represent the cityscape. Vast glittering panoramas taken from bustling urban communities, sprawling architectural structures and fictitious landscapes all combine to reveal fascinating insights into both physical and psychological geographies.

Ms van Wyk said: “At the end of the 20th century a much cooler, more abstracted strain of photography emerged. Photographs in the exhibition from this period range from the formalism of the 1970s to more recent cinematic visions of the nocturnal city.”

Press release from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

Lee Freidlander. 'Stamford, Connecticut' 1973, printed c. 1977

 

Lee Freidlander (American, b. 1934)
Stamford, Connecticut
1973, printed c. 1977
Gelatin silver photograph
18.9 x 28.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1977
© Lee Friedlander

 

 

In the decades following the Second World War the idea of ‘the city’, notably in work of American, European and Australian photographers, came to symbolize the modern condition, the best and worst of contemporary life. This ambiguous stance on the city is exemplified in the work of American photographer Lee Friedlander whose photographs of seemingly ordinary urban scenes are at once amusing and slightly disturbing. In his 1973 photograph Stamford, Connecticut, the banal vernacular architecture of suburban shopping street forms the backdrop to a peculiar scene where shoppers are ‘stalked’ by a statue of first world war sniper. Despite its witty elements, this image has a somewhat despairing tone. The women walking along this rather bleak street are isolated and anonymous, ciphers for the worst aspects of contemporary city life.

 

Grant Mudford. 'New York' 1975

 

Grant Mudford (b. Australia 1944, lived United States 1977- )
New York
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
33.8 x 49.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1977
© Grant Mudford

 

 

A more neutral view of the contemporary city can be seen in the work of Australian photographer Grant Mudford. After moving to the US in 1970s, Mudford continued to photograph the built environment. Familiar with the work of Lee Friedlander, and citing Walker Evans as an influence, Mudford’s photographs continue a tradition of photographing the city as an empty backdrop devoid of the bustle of human activity. In his 1975 Untitled photograph of a truck depot in New York Mudford simplifies what could be a chaotic scene to the verge of abstraction.

 

 

NGV International
180 St Kilda Road

Opening hours
Daily 10am – 5pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top




Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Sleep/Wound’ 1995-96


Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: 'Sleep/Wound' 1995-96 *PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY - IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email me at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Join 2,655 other followers

If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list please email Marcus at bunyanth@netspace.net.au and I will remove you asap. Thank you.

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives

Categories