Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Today's picture(s) by George Henton - The Taksim Square Book Club

In Pictures: The Taksim Square Book Club

George Henton Last Modified: 24 Jun 2013 18:51
Al Jazeera English

Protesters stand silently and read books in central Istanbul, in stark contrast with scenes of violence.

Istanbul, Turkey - After weeks of violent clashes between police and protesters across Turkey a new form of resistance has emerged - the "Standing Man".

Standing silently, and initially alone, Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz stood, with his hands in his pockets, facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Taksim Square, Istanbul, for eight hours.

With extraordinary speed, Gunduz become the latest symbol of the resistance movement. In days that followed, thousands of people would emulate his solitary act, standing silently, for minutes or hours, in places across Turkey.

The contrast with the images of tear gas clouds and water cannon could not have been greater. Faces obscured by masks and helmets were revealed to show expressions of quiet contemplation.

Violent scenes are still occurring around Turkey, including in Istanbul once again this past weekend, but the Standing Man protests continue unabated.

The following images explore one aspect of the protest in Taksim Square, ongoing since before the communal standing took off. Public reading and informal education has been notable since the earliest days of the protest, but has since merged with the Standing Man to form "The Taksim Square Book Club".

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.

A woman reads the philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus by French author Albert Camus in Taksim Square. The book focuses on the search for meaning in the absence of God.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Leaf Storm centres on a family in limbo following the death of a man passionately hated, yet tied to the family.

Turkish writer Tezer Ozlu's book, Old Garden - Old Love, is a collection of short stories.

Irvin David Yalom's historical novel When Nietzsche Wept is about a prominent physician, Josef Beuer, falling in love with Lou Salome, who was believed to have spurned Friedrich Nietzche's romantic overtures.

A man reads the Turkish book Resurrection Gallipoli 1915, written by Turgut Ozakman on the Battle of Gallipoli, while a woman beside him reads George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

George Orwell's dystopic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four centralises around a police state with total government surveillance. 

A man reads a Japanese novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami - while another woman enjoys Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, a popular choice of the Taksimites.

One woman reads The Speech, which is the text of of a speech delivered by Turkey's first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, at an assembly in 1927 - while another woman (right) reads a biography of Ataturk.

A woman reads The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, a darkly absurdist novel about a travelling salesman who turned into a giant bug.

A man reads The Crisis of the Modern World, a critique of the modern world from the point of view of traditional metaphysics, by French author Rene Guenon.

A man reads Three Days with my Mother, a book about a novelist with writer's block, by Belgian author and director Francois Weyergans.


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing this, Nan.

  2. A wonderful way to protest. May the power move toward them for them.

  3. This is an inspired method of protesting. No violence, just stating your beliefs silently by way of the book you choose to read in public. Thank you for letting us know about this.

  4. Great post.... I find the photos of the people and their chosen books fascinating.

  5. This is brilliant and altogether fabulous. I hadn't heard anything about it til I came here. Thanks for posting.

  6. Thank you .. I did not know about this.. How amazing it is. How brave and , I guess creative isn't a big enough word for the idea to do this, but it is all I can think of.

  7. Thank you for this, I had no idea. Wish you could get it on Facebook, it needs to be spread.

  8. Great post. It's amazing how much a picture of a motionless person can say.

  9. I was so moved by these photographs.

    Cait I first heard of this on a local library's Facebook page. They showed one picture and gave the link to the page.

  10. This was very moving indeed. During my Yorkshire holiday, I lost touch a bit with what is going on in Turkey at the moment, but now that I'm back I am catching up. Since here in Germany, people of Turkish origin make up the largest community of foreigners and are a vital, integral part of our economy, whatever happens in Turkey is big news in Germany.

  11. These are amazing photographs! Thanks for sharing this powerful post with us, Nan.

  12. My Turkish daughter (our exchange student from several years ago) lives just a few minutes walk from Taksim Square. The turbulence there is hitting awfully close to home and the world gets smaller and smaller to me as time goes on. Thank you for this lovely, though-provoking post, Nan.

  13. I'm so happy you all saw them. So impressive. And thanks for writing.


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