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x0x Turkey's memory: Ara Guler

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    [Read this article online with photographs: http://turkradio.us/k/araguler/ ] x0x Turkey s memory: Ara Guler By HALUK COBANOGLU One of a handful of master
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 9, 2011
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      [Read this article online with photographs: http://turkradio.us/k/araguler/ ]

      x0x Turkey's memory: Ara Guler

      By HALUK COBANOGLU

      One of a handful of master photographers in the whole world, Ara
      Guler's photographs are like an illustrated encyclopedia of Turkey...

      Ara Guler is not a photojournalist who has spent his life chasing after
      daily events or following popular currents; instead his work is more
      like that of an archaeologist conducting digs to illuminate the future.

      Abidin Dino put it best when he said, "Ara wanted to preserve the image
      of his country's people from oblivion. He had a surprising sense of
      responsibility, as if he would be personally held to account if they
      were forgotten. What a tremendous effort, what self-sacrifice!" This
      creative man, whose work was once poohpoohed in his own country,
      already in those days had put his signature on a number of momentous
      shots that have gone down in world history. We can say of Ara Guler
      that he not only captured the things he saw in photographs, he actually
      created them anew by blending them in an idiom of his own invention. In
      his portraits in particular he seems to have recast his subjects in a
      new form by turning a wide-angle lens on people in an approach that had
      until then been considered taboo.

      This approach to portrait photography can be regarded as Ara Guler's
      contribution to the world photography tradition.

      THE SHADOW WITHIN

      Ara Guler's writing is as powerful as his photography. The writer Ara
      Guler was always held quietly in reserve, never allowed to upstage the
      photographer; and he was reconciled to staying in the wings. But
      whenever the writer within emerged from the shadows, the quality of the
      writing in his books was always consistent with that of the
      photographs. Ara Guler is also a stickler for principles. Always fair
      to his contemporaries, he has never misrepresented the period to which
      he feels he belongs, the twentieth century. And therefore he feels
      strongly that no trace of that period should vanish either by chance or
      by default. Yet he doesn't coddle his subjects, and when necessary can
      even omit a cinematic genius like Alfred Hitchcock, of whom he shot a
      series of outstanding portraits.

      Personally he has no doubt that Hitchcock did great things but
      nevertheless places him among those who 'have not left a sufficient
      imprint on humanity'. Ara Guler is known for having supreme confidence
      in his own judgement. And if his pronouncements are occasionally over
      the top, you have to remember that great masters are also human. He
      takes absolutely no interest in abstract or artsy photography, going so
      far as to 'question whether or not such pursuits contribute in any way
      to civilization.' In his view, they are all part of a game. And this
      game does not suffice to describe the process of human development and
      the human adventure.

      LIKE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST...

      "A photograph should above all else portray something. The game-playing
      aspect of photography isn't for me. I'm a photographer of realities.

      There's a world revolving around me and when there's something in that
      world that gives me great pleasure, that sparks emotion, I click the
      shutter.

      As a photographer of people I want to record everything pertaining to
      them-their joys, their dramas, their way of life, their fears. Because
      I regard myself not as a photographic artist but as a photojournalist,
      what is more important than aesthetics for me is documentation itself,"
      says Ara Guler, whose life achievement as a photojournalist has been
      more that of a social geographer or an archaeologist. Through a mere
      three photo-features he appears to have taken on the role of honorary
      ambassador for promoting Turkey abroad. When his first features on
      Aphrodisias, Nemrut and Noah's Ark came out, they aroused great
      interest outside the country, appearing in the world's leading
      magazines in rapid succession. While photographing the construction of
      a dam in the province of Aydin for Hayat magazine in the 1950s, Ara
      Guler gets lost on the deserted country roads. When he finally comes
      upon the village of Geyre in the present-day township of Karacasu in
      the middle of the night, he stops at a roadside coffeehouse to ask
      directions. The first thing he encounters in the midnight twilight is
      what seems like a sketch of the today's Aphrodisias archaeological site
      and museum.

      Ara Guler reaches for his camera, and the photos are published outside
      Turkey. Later, when the as yet unknown archaeologist Kenan Erim appears
      one day at the door of Ara Guler's studio in Istanbul Beyoglu, the
      pieces of the puzzle start to come together. Following his report, the
      Aphrodisias excavations are resumed, excavations that have changed the
      way the classical period, the acknowledged basis for Western
      civilization, is viewed today and underscoring once again the
      possibility of historical approaches other than the Anglo-Saxon, as if
      to vindicate the memory of Ara Guler's friends and cohorts, Cevat
      Sakir, the 'Fisherman of Halicarnassus', Azra Erhat, Sabahattin
      Eyuboglu and the other originators of the 'Blue Cruise'.


      AND NOW A BOOK

      Those who would like to see the fruit of so many years work will now
      get a fresh opportunity. A retrospective entitled Aradan Yetmi$ Yedi
      YIl Gecti (Meanwhile Seventy-seven Years Passed) in a play on his name,
      Ara, which also means an interval of time, was mounted last month at
      the FotoGrafevi Gallery in Istanbuls BeyoGlu district. And a book of
      the same name was published to coincide with the exhibition. For those
      who havent yet lost their sense of curiosity, this book brings together
      a gargantuan output into which a whole life has been pouredfrom
      mementoes of old Istanbul in tones from classic black and white to the
      lost colors of melancholy, to portraits in whose faces the vagaries of
      the century can be read and brilliant color series shot in foreign
      countries. It would be no exaggeration to say that if Turkey had not
      had her Ara Guler, much would have been lost forever.

      [Read this article online with photographs: http://turkradio.us/k/araguler/ ]
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