Metehan Özcan, Observation

There are things in life that are sometimes best left undocumented. A lover’s touch, a smile, a moment of generosity, a moment compassion, a moment of cruelty are all things that us, photographers, artists, imagine to somehow evoke and yet remain helpless when in the presence of the actual experience. Grieving the loss of a crucial herald of an underrepresented cultural, religious and ethnic minority in Turkey, is one such extended moment. It is such a moment that the impact on many individuals who were walking on the fifth anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder and those who were watching what took place from their screens around the world, could not be political or general; it was a collective personal grief that was scarring and absolute, which was deepened by the state’s denial of what took place. Metehan Özcan’s turning his camera to those who were observing the walk is a poignant gesture. Özcan does not document the walk grieving Dink’s loss and protesting his trial. Instead, he turns his camera to the buildings in which people are watching the walk. Through the indirect documentation of what took place, Özcan refuses to fulfill both the voyeuristic and journalistic impetus and instead creates a silent, absent, almost futile context in which we can process what took place. Özcan’s photographic space is one of contemplation and this is a political act. After all, what can one hope to do but open up space for contemplation and reflection, when en face with such a state of exception, a state of suspension?
—Merve Ünsal