"A Photograph of Turkey"

DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey National Will Rally ImageOn June 16, 2013 then Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey held a National Will Rally.  As he addressed tens of thousands supporters while, 10 km away, police forcibly removed protestors from Taksim’s Gezi Park where they had been peacefully protesting for more than two weeks.  Erdogan told the crowd. “I understand that at this moment the world is watching us and listening to us” and then continued with this excerpt in which he presents “a photograph of Turkey.” http://youtu.be/h9Ynva2A5fA

As someone who studies cultures of international photojournalism, I’m intrigued by a prime minister’s public claims to his own supporters that his country has been misrepresented by international media.  The rhetoric of being falsely portrayed by foreigners pursuing their own interests is one often used by groups who feel excluded from access to the means of producing representations themselves.  Yet here is a prime minister on the state television channel producing a highly orchestrated “photograph of the nation” complete with impressive aerial shots. What role might professional visual journalism play in our contemporary moment when states, corporations, armies, NGOs and terrorists are all image brokers of sorts?  

Unabridged translation of clip:

"I said this yesterday in Ankara and I will say it again here in Istanbul in the midst of this tremendous magnificent sea of people.  If there is anyone who wants to see a photograph of Turkey, who despite international press wants to see: here is the photograph!  International media hide this too will you.  Come on BBC, hide this as well.  CNN, hide this will you.  Reuters, hide this too will you.  You have fabricated false stories for days now.  You showed Turkey to the world differently [than it is], now you find yourselves alone with your lies.  This nation is not that which you present to the world.  This nation is sincere.”

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Participant: Zeynep Devrim Gürsel
International Studies | Macalester College
Presentation: "The Unbearable Visuality of the News"