|Cagri Hakan Zaman,Deniz Tortum,Nil Tuzcu
Visit the project
On September 6, 1955, mobs in Istanbul took to the streets and raided the shops of non-Muslims. The attack was a result of the escalating tension between Greece and Turkey over the Cyprus crisis, and was triggered by false news that said Turkish Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s house in Thessaloniki had been bombed. Following the violent events on September 6 and 7, many non-Muslims chose to emigrate from Istanbul.
September 1955 is a 8-minute, real-time, interactive virtual reality experience and a room-scale installation that recalls the incidents of September 6 – 7. The project places the viewer inside a photography studio which was modeled after the actual studios of Maryam Sahinyan (1911-1996) and Osep Minasoglu (1929-2013), two Armenian photographers who lived in Istanbul during the events. The studio space holds a mirror up to 1950s Istanbul through collaged architecture and objects, and the photography archive that can be explored on the virtual walls.
Close to the end of the experience, the user finds herself/himself in the midst of the pogrom, from the perspective of the studio’s owner. As the angry mob approaches the shop and starts banging on the windows, the user experiences an embodied feeling of entrapment and helplessness. Through such immersive and emotional experience, September 1955 reenacts a dark moment in Turkey’s past — which is not too distant of a history — serving as a warning against extremism and mob mentality.