Cagdas Erdogan

Above: A Cagdas Erdogan black-and-white photo depicting life in present-day Turkey. Credit: Cagdas Erdogan.

Erdogan's Shocker

Cagdas Erdogan's photo-series, Control is intended to shock the bourgeois classes--in Turkey and across Europe. The images propose to report on life as it is lived by young people surviving in Turkey under the brutal dictatorship led by Recep Erdogan. Life has, it is offered, descended into pure reckless hedonism and the night. The pictures recall the art of Nancy Goldin, Chris Shaw, Bruce Davidson, and Larry Clark.

Control is not bad. The photos are not massively original but are still sometimes arresting. The real question mark with the project is the format organized for diffusion and dissemination. Cagdas Erdogan has decided to go for a photo-book. Published by a small independent press, Akina Books. This choice of format for publishing is quaint and old-fashioned. Cagdas's images are all over the Internet for free, as high-quality JPEGS--newspapers do always insist on high quality images to be supplied when a book-review is to be published and in any case the photographer's own website hosts most of the pictures at a decent 300kb. This being so, not many are going to make the effort to go and find a physical printed copy of the book, which is not actually on Amazon.

The basic point here is that a photographer should not bypass or ignore the dominant modes of dissemination of the day. The most overt indication of the pointlessness of making Control up as a photo-book is the appearance and availability of a Vimeo HD video of a person turning through the pages one-by-one.

Coda: from the video the actual book looks a bit disappointing compared to my own JPEG downloads of the best photos--many black printed pages to emphasize night-void seem portentous; and several of the best images are set in laying across the gutter and cut into two.

(4 April 2018)