by Çağdaş Erdoğan

The body politics. Cutting the Turkish night in two
a review by Larisa Oancea

For Çağdaş Erdoğan the Turkish night is an anthropological field of interrogations. Sex workers, dog fights, gun violence and political armed conflicts create a kind of obscure capsulle temporelle. The confusing and changing social-political landscape in Turkey after the 2000s pushed some activities into the night, in a sort of dark enclave: At first glance, these activities seem different, but once we delve deeper into these stories we can see that they are part of the same chain of motives. The political climate, which has become increasingly conservative, has given certain ideologies a platform and at the same time led people with opposing thoughts be vilified and pushed into the night, says the author.

Control literally cuts the Istanbul night in two. The accurate editing of the project intensifies –  through the anti-narrative alternation of animal and human bodies, barking dogs and silent crouching nudes – a sense of nyctophobia. The body becomes a contested terrain which struggles over control and resistance, a place of twists and turns. Enhanced by the black contour of the night, animals and humans seem almost fabled, as the author poetically pointed out:

Shell shock silence and blinding whiteness,
air sucked from the lungs.
Masked clowns out of the dust cloud.
City limits, a circle of men.
Two dogs.
The chain goes off.
Nervous laughters, hard breathing.
Tension as a background noise.
The night-blind goes on.

Çağdaş Erdoğan’s photobook is a brilliant visual nocturne, a flow of silent and noisy images, documenting minutely the collision of instincts and modernism; in other words, a sort of photographic, anachronistic response to Goya’s the sleep of reason produces monsters.