Gazes in dispute: visual representations of the built environment in Ankara postcards
Journal of Architecture
21 - 46
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Developing the argument that representations of urban space generate visual identifications, this paper discusses the co-existence of conflicting representations of Ankara in the early republican period. Whilst the earliest photographic images were dominated by Orientalist imagery depicting the alleged backwardness of the Orient, the visual representations of Ankara produced by the nation state were charged with new ideological meanings, since the process in which the city was made into the capital of the Turkish Republic was perceived as a reflection of the nation-building process. After the 1930s, various government publications proudly published images of Ankara under construction and the city's new architecture. These images of the nation's capital introduced a frame through which the city as the symbol of the republic should be seen and identified with. What complicated this process of identification were the photographs of Ankara which were produced by local photographers and circulated in the form of real photographic postcards, so-called because they were individually printed in small numbers. These postcards were naive in subject matter and insignificant in artistic value. Yet, precisely for the same reasons, they were much more powerful than mass-produced postcards in allowing consumers to identify with the images. Although the subjects of such postcards were similar to the photographs in government publications, they presented subtle deviations in terms of the representation of the built environment. They disrupted the gaze of the state, allowing the appropriation of the image of the city. It is shown throughout the paper that these postcards opened up the possibility of an active agency in terms of choosing, sending or collecting such representations. In this regard, real photographic postcards present a significant case of resistance to the state-controlled visual representation of the capital.