Few things were happening at once during summer of 2014: Gaza was being leveled to the ground, pictures of dead children were filling our screens, and Ozge and I were looking for a title for our new book. We didn’t have to look too hard. Benjamin Netanyahu gave it to us on a silver platter. During a televised interview at the peak of the Israeli bombardment, while answering the host’s questions, President of Israel uttered three words: “telegenically dead Palestinians”.
My initial reaction was, “is telegenic really a word?” Sounded weird, lacking, lopsided. Especially in reference to innocent civilians, mothers, children, old people who were being killed on the streets, bombed in hospital yards, en route to emergency rooms, the use of the word made my skin curl. Telegenising the dead: so cold, remote, detached.
For almost a year Ozge and I were working on a piece, a scattered dialogue on the role of images in shaping our everyday. We had a lot we wanted to say, and a very loose structure in which to say them all. As per the ever-changing news agenda, we were constantly re-writing. The re-writes were not due to our change of mind, or change of heart, no, we knew what disturbed us, and knew what we wanted to say. But we wanted to be clear to you, the reader, as we said them all. At a time when all looked murky and mixed, we wanted our words to come out clean.
The events in Gaza helped us focus. We finished our end of things and started tightening the conversation. We wanted this to be a little more than another one of our “occasional doodles of agitated minds”. Our minds were agitated, as the world reflected back at us, also agitated. But this was not a time to get carried away. It never is.
So we shaped Telegenic. Brick by brick, word by word, idea by idea. What we left out, Thomas Keenan filled in with his elegant style. When Tom joined us at the end, it truly made all we had written so far, stand out. His thoughts touched on our between the lines, what he pointed out made our line of thinking complete.
Telegenic is a book of random ideas, examples, musings and reflections on the rampant use and dissemination of images from conflicts, and wars; images which we simply consume. Just as one may ask: “if history only teaches us by way of telling us about wars, how can we achieve peace?” We in turn ask: “The images that we see everyday, serviced to our breakfast tables, next to our morning cereal, showing fire, blood and destruction: How do they shape our lives?”
We have much more to tell you, Ozge and I. Telegenic is only the beginning. We feel, in an era in which history is being recorded at the speed of light, around the world, we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and try and see despite the cloud and the debris around us. We need to ask ourselves: “Where exactly are we headed?” We place the questions. Should you wish to join our quest to find the answers, then you may:
This Saturday, 18/10/2014 at 17:00 Istanbul time. We will be tweeting our Q&A session from the third floor of Elhamra Han, Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu under the hashtags #Telegenic and #Telejenik. Feel free to join us either at the venue, where you may also pick up a free copy of the book, or online. As @bikem71 and @ozge_ersoy we will be there.
Telegenic is a book written in bilingual format (English and Turkish) by Bikem Ekberzade and Ozge Ersoy with contribution from Thomas Keenan. The book was commissioned by SPOT Production Fund 2014 to the authors and is part of the Anyone Could Be a Sculptor One Day exhibit opened in Istanbul on 20 September.