Five Complaint Five Suggestion

Ali Taptık

Let's forget about the claim to be "new", for I don't really see something new around. "Young" is also a threadbare saying, it over-focuses on age. If you like, let's call it "different", let's call it "authentic" if the work gives credit where it's due. And if we call it "different", let's explain why.

Because in "new photography" exhibitions, many important photographers who have earned their spurs, be it young or old, don't get their due. We may see great photographs, they don't bring on new approaches neither aesthetically nor technically or conceptually; and they don't have to. But going to an exhibition just because it is called "new" photography and seeing a single photograph one follows for a long time is sad, rather than boring.

We don't necessarily need something new, "neophilie" is a disease of the age just like selfies. The methods we use and create together are already a fruitition of a common endeavor by humanity. Although they may not have any "new" aspect in structural terms, every year tones of good novels are written. We can hear about different and powerful discourses on today's and tomorrow's subjects that utilize formal approaches which may appear classical in various fields from architecture to biology.

Say, Ege utilizes the old photographs everyone clips to make third-generation copies of Steazker, and takes the fingerprints on them. It makes one think, whose photographs were they? Is it possible to find their heirs? If so, how do you deal with the copyright issue? Or is it editing or fictional? Is it a photograph? What is it? It was a work which is not spectacular, but really authentic. It reminds one of the objectivization of photographic prints without fetishizing them.

Another term I may offer instead of "new" is "multitude". More production and more discussions on productions may be more useful.


Institutions, scholarships or funding mechanisms are not the only frameworks of support. We need writers, editors, designers, intellectuals, directors and producers to help those working with photography as well.

For example, Kamil Fırat has a subtle work called "Dome", and I haven't heard anyone mentioning it for years. I wonder, how many art writers are aware of this work. Or how many curators are there to think of utilizing some pieces of the work in the last Mimar Sinan exhibition?

My offer is to create a fund, so that all artists working with photography, photographers and artists donate as much as they can. And let's commission an essay. If there is nothing authentic about it or if it doesn't bother people who are reading it, then the artist won't get the money. And it is ok to be bothered a little…

Or let's import framer from abroad, and s/he gives lectures to the masters here; I have a spare room at home, s/he can stay there. Everyone cooks something at home in a cauldron. And we share the price to give it him/her.

Besides, we also have to mention an issue everyone is talking about worldwide: To increase the number of viewers. The other day, a friend of mine wants to buy a book for FiL to make the first sale of the day. "What would you recommend?" And I responded with a question drawing inspiration partly from movies, partly from record shops. "What kind of books do you like?" It is natural that s/he couldn't find an answer, but also sad; one should think about it. I keep asking other questions to recommend a book. "Would you like to see the places where you have never been before? Or would you like to see some craft? Do you like eclectic stuff?" Please, ask a friend around what kind of photographs they like to see, show a couple of things. Or buy a photograph or a photobook on their birthday; maybe the viewers get diversified, and we sweat a little.


Lately, I came up with a reproach from a photographer whom I've always admired in his efforts for the photography in Turkey on social media. It was sad for me to see the discussions from the 2000s (and as one of the subjects) on "personal documentary" – "straight documentary" – "mixed photography" which I find corny to be warmed over through reproaches on some recent exhibitions and workshops.

Even as we try to preserve the destructive creativity of punk music, I think the world also needs artificiality, just like the artificial vagrancy some punk groups or groups that mushroomed with commercial support fell into. Artificiality is just as natural, let's be honest, we spend a lot of our time playing as if.

Same holds for photography: Although Petersen who may be considered to be one of the founders of the genre, has fell into repetition in his recent books, he still presents the subtility of his style with the photographers he influenced (Engström, Sobol), and the books he collaborated. So, is there anyone speaking about it? No.

Serkan Taycan has a work called "Back Street". Until some vigilant closed down the whole street at the back of Emek Cinema, we had a street where we could hang out. Call it personal documentary, Serkan was photographing his friends and other people there. So, is there anyone talking about that work within the context of the transformation of Beyoglu? Or is there someone who would like to discuss it in the context of Serkan's autobiography as a photographer who is working with images that require a much more technical perfection? Only İpek writes open letters, besides her I cannot see anything, if I am wrong help me.

For example, if the notion of photojournalism is important for you, let's talk about the subjectivity in this field. It is interesting to discuss the dichotomy between "subjectivity"/"individuality" and "documentary objectivity" when you think about in terms of Shore's "American Surfaces", Delahaye's "Winterreise", and Greene's "Black Passport". Otherwise, we keep asking the same old questions. Who cares, one can do anything one likes.


There are many photographers who cannot attribute what is about "themselves, their family, their lovers" to workers, farmers, employers, immigrants, birds, seas and mountains, and to geography and to politics. These people keep teaching what they already to each other within closed circles, by paying astronomical prices, and re-produce likewise narratives. And this is not a problem.

I have friends who cannot stand a day without listening to God Speed You Black Emporer for an hour. I also listen to it, it is nice, but I also like to hear Kanye West.

On the one hand, there are the stories of shy youngsters lost in a forest or some highway in Turkey; they don't even touch the problems I have in life; if they are not that shy I might think I am reading some story of the Beat generation. I can only say "well, these guys feel they are trapped inside our conservative society, what a pity".

On the other hand, I feel sick when people print photographs of streets or the war right next to the border; and this feeling is caused by a shame in the name of the other. But we also have people like Nazım Serhat Fırat who struggle to keep their eyes open for us; and maybe the best media for them is social media or a book.

My proposal is to stop talking about the modes of documentary, and instead, practice on diversifying what we can say about the works. So, let me begin: Serkan photographed eight squares climbing upon the crane. Which other squares should we add to those eight so that we can analyze the effects of crucial decisions regarding the public space concomitantly within the last century? I will give a present to those who predict the answer I have in mind.


Instead of revisiting the same point with its lousy ecosystem, we should reassess all those systems (workshops, portfolio evaluations etc.). There are some people who are working on it (BookLab, Bandrolsüz, BAK, Bak sana ne getirdim?).

For example, what is called portfolio evaluation in Arles in 2005 was not something spectacular. People (editors, curators and gallerists) take their time, say 1-2 hours, you register, and you meet and talk; and this only serves to young students. For it is easy to meet anywhere. You begin with "Do you have time, let's have a tea/coffee/beer?" And then you start telling about what you are interested in; if the other is interested you say "I have it with me, let me show you some". That is what it is. The next year, they set the price as 150€ for 5 evaluations; as if you are in a bazaar, they brought gloves and tables etc. We were sending the suckers there as we are having pastis. So, everyone was happy.

The problem is: If you turn sharing your works or getting criticisms into an institutional and spectacular event, you end up serving the system that wants to make up stars, in other words, eliminate diversity. It is not that the system is going to go down tomorrow, but at least let's not repeat it.

If we want to have a chat, share or drink a glass of something, we need to call each other rather than going to some opening. And you have the number.


I don't even remember names.

Now, the other day, a photographer – I am changing my tone and give brief information "s/he is also a curator" – invited me to take part in an exhibition.

"What's the artist's price?" I asked.

"No, we don't give any ‘goodwill'" s/he said.

Well, I said "You get money from the municipality; a big event like this should at least symbolically acknowledge the artist's immaterial labor. I am sure you mention about this to those in charge. But excuse me, I am not that productive anyway, I have my Phd to deal with."

I got an e-mail in reply, and I couldn't believe my eyes. I became the guilty party just for asking. S/he said "We invite ‘stars' from abroad, they never ask for money, only resident photographers do." I don't want any sapless star, nor do I ask for your yarn. They did lots of HDA works; hell breaks loose with the discussions on urban transformation. We only couldn't see a Mathieu Pernot exhibition in this city just because he is not a star! And the book is so heavy, carrying it everywhere to show it to people and I will have my back broken.

The matter is how people position what they produce. If you are a photographer doing editorial work, exhibition can solely function as publicity, an advertisement for you…Then, you stand on a very different side of the economy. Just the other day, one of those wrote that s/he donated a work to a family foundation that also owns a museum in one of the social media websites. What's the big idea, man?

It is not hard to foresee that art production will be limited to funds from the mother-father-uncle-aunt, unless we set the standards together through our own efforts. There is sanatörgü, let us slip through the cracks, and bear a hand.