Turkey to remember Godfather of photography Ara Güler

Turkey to remember Godfather of photography Ara Güler

Turkey to remember Godfather of photography Ara Güler

Several events will honor the memory of Turkey’s late legendary photojournalist Ara Güler on what would have been his 93rd birthday on Aug. 16. 

Umut Sülün, director of the Istanbul-based Ara Güler Archive and Research Center, which also hosts a museum on the famous Turkish-Armenian photographer's works, told Anadolu Agency that the center will celebrate Güler’s birthday with several events.

This year also marks the third anniversary of the museum that was opened in 2018 on Güler's 90th birthday, said Sülün, who knew Güler since 2004. Güler died on Oct. 17, 2018, at the age of 90. He was a globally recognized figure in creative photography in Turkey and was commonly referred to as "Istanbul’s eye."

He made a name mainly with his black-and-white nostalgic pictures of Istanbul, depicting the wide range of emotions of the city which straddles two continents on either bank of the Bosphorus Strait.

"One of our events is an Ara Güler exhibition consisting of 75 black-and-white Istanbul photographs that we will bring together with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism at Galata Tower," said Sülün. "Our exhibition will be opened by Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Özgül Özkan Yavuz on Monday and will be visited by tower visitors until the end of October."

On Aug. 16, the museum, as it did last year, will share Güler's photos on social media.

The annual World Photography Day will be observed on Thursday and the Güler Museum will take the opportunity to combine the occasion with the photographer's birthday.

"We'll have kids in our museum," said Sülün. "We're going to celebrate Ara Güler's birthday with them. He's an important figure and we want to introduce him to our young students."

A group of kindergarten students will tour the museum and cut a birthday cake in honor of the late photojournalist.

New exhibitions as of September

At the moment, there are two exhibitions at the museum. One of these, titled Inside the same Dream, was created with Güler's Istanbul photos along with accompanying texts by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, a legendary Turkish author. The
exhibition will be open until Sept. 18. The second, with 20 images, said Sülün, focuses on Güler's book, Yitirilmis Renkler, or Vanished Colors, that features a book model consisting of his drawings.

"As of the end of next September, we're going to open a new exhibition in our museum," he said. "In this exhibition, there will be a selection of portraits from Turkey and the world, which are an important part of the Ara Güler archive," as Turkey's most important photojournalist also known for his photographs of the likes of Picasso, Winston Churchill, John Berger, Alfred Hitchcock, and Salvador Dali, among many, many others.

For the museum, Sülün also heralded a shop and gallery to be opened at the Galaport, a major renovation project on Istanbul's European side. New shopping malls, hotels, and a new Istanbul Modern building are planned to be built as part of the project.

The "shop gallery" will include an exhibition of 30 Güler photographs, some of which have never been seen before, of Istanbul's centuries-old neighborhoods such as Karaköy, Galata, and its surroundings.

The museum is also in contact with various organizers for possible future exhibitions abroad, added Sülün.

Since the opening of the museum, his works have traveled across the world via exhibitions in Berlin to New York to Japan and London.

Güler's astounding discoveries

"Ara Güler is known as the person who made the most important contribution to both the world's awareness of Turkey's photography and the awareness of photography in Turkey," Sülün said when asked about the importance of the legendary photojournalist.

The museum was opened in 2018 but the Ara Güler archive had already been transferred to the museum building in the Sisli District from Güler's apartment in Istanbul's teeming Beyoğlu district, he said.

"We had already been working here," he said, adding that Güler, who was suffering from various illnesses due to old age, had visited the to-be-museum site.

"When he visited us during that time," Sülün said they would gather around a big table and discuss various issues about the museum setting. Güler would tell us stories about the objects in the archive, said Sülün.

He also recalled that Güler would single out "three important projects" he completed in his life.

"Interviews of Aphrodisias, Mount Nemrut, Noah's Ark," he said, referring to Güler's astounding works: An ancient city called Aphrodisias in Turkey’s western province of Aydın in 1958; photo-interviews on Mount Nemrut and Noah's Ark that attracted international attention to the ancient sites in eastern Turkey.

"Because, these were not merely photography, but also contributions to humanity," he said.