Turkish Protesters’ Performance Art

Taksim Square Book ClubFollowing weeks of violence in Turkey between the nation’s police and protesters, a striking new tactic has emerged today in the form of performance art.

Performance artist and Turkish native, Erdem Gunduz, is reported as instigating the latest symbol of resistance. Standing serenely and silent within Taksim Square, facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre, he stood motionless and alone. The gesture has been dubbed the “Standing Man” and has inspired many similar acts of silent standing throughout the country.

Most recently, these “standing men” have been bringing with them reading material for these moments of prolonged, public reflection; injecting even more meaning into this passive resistance. As Al Jazeera reports, the book choices are far from random, rather, ‘The chosen reading material of many of those who take their stand is reflective, in part, of the thoughtfulness of those who have chosen this motionless protest to express their discontent.”

Those taking part in this performance art are becoming known as “The Taksim Square Book Club”. Commentators have suggested that the symbol of the book is a both one of quiet reflexion and also a reminder of the education deficit in the country which many attribute to government failings.

A man reads Gabriel García Márquez's La Hojarasca (Yaprak Firtinasi in Turkish and Leaf Storm in English), a collection of short stories, in Taksim Square, Istanbul.

A man reads Gabriel García Márquez’s La Hojarasca (Yaprak Firtinasi in Turkish and Leaf Storm in English), a collection of short stories, in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON

A man reads a book by Turkish writer Tezer Özlü, Eski Bahçe - Eski Sevgi (Old Garden - Old Love in English) in Taksim Square, Istanbul.

A man reads a book by Turkish writer Tezer Özlü, Eski Bahçe – Eski Sevgi (Old Garden – Old Love in English) in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON

A woman reads George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

A woman reads George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

One woman (left) reads Nutuk (The Speech in English), the text of of a speech delivered by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at an assembly in 1927 whilst another woman (right) reads a book by Turkish writer Henri Benazus entitled Yaşamın İçinden Atatürk Anıları, the biography of Atatürk, in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

One woman (left) reads Nutuk (The Speech in English), the text of of a speech delivered by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at an assembly in 1927 whilst another woman (right) reads a book by Turkish writer Henri Benazus entitled Yaşamın İçinden Atatürk Anıları, the biography of Atatürk, in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

A woman reads a book by Irvin David Yalom, an American existential psychiatrist, titled When Nietzsche Wept (Nietzsche Nietzsche Ağladığında in Turkish) in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

A woman reads a book by Irvin David Yalom, an American existential psychiatrist, titled When Nietzsche Wept (Nietzsche Nietzsche Ağladığında in Turkish) in Taksim Square, Istanbul. IMAGE CREDIT: GEORGE HENTON.

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