EventsTopography of Memory

Photos As History Painting


An unnamed gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. A gunman opened fire on Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at a photo exhibition on Monday.

considered in VULTURE magazine the photographs of the assassination of the Russian ambassador at an art gallery in Ankara Photos As History Painting. He says in his article, they poses are almost classical, frozen, or rehearsed as if from theater, ballet, painting, or mannequin display.

For Saltz everything in the images is emotion articulated, caught, performed, and real. All of this triggers an unreal internal visual dance. It’s a new surrealism of modern life, made all the more harrowing because it could not be more truly real.

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The photos were taken by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici, who clearly has the eye of a professional. He has a professional’s ethos, too. And he does take pictures. Remarkable ones.

Read the whole text at VULTURE!

Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/Turkey/AP

The idea of Photos as History Paintings is one attempt of a rationalization of the irrationality of current affairs in the field of the esthetics. Poses like the one of the assassin of the Russian embassador in Ankara have something of a Pars pro toto. A narcisstic pose of power abuse, fatal and lethal violent, dramatized godlike and in a terrible way  infantile. The individual acting as part of a collective narcissim claiming to be on the right and divine path. Some artists are working on methods of a recontextualization by reenactments of poses like the Austrian artist group “G.R.A.M.” (   or reenacting interpretations and fusions like Japanese appropriation artist Yasumasa Morimura (  ).


Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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