Monument And Sculpture In Public Sphere, As "Political And Aesthetical Signs"
Yaman, Zeynep Yasa
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This article is about the place and significance of monuments and sculptures in the public sphere since the Early Republican Period until today. The relationship between these objects and the city are discussed; where, their transformation; the connection between monument, sculpture and political preferences of governments; as well as their function, meaning and content in the eyes of the artist and the public, are discussed. Together with the representative objectives it takes, sculpture has played an important role in relation to discussions of the problem of 'visibility' and 'representation' as from the perspective of "art regardless of the public" and "art in the public domain". This field comprises significant dynamics as regards the relationship it establishes with the medium of IT technologies, media and the internet, as well as those it establishes as per global and urban scales. From the perspective of daily practices, social, political and visual dimensions of the relationship sculpture has established with the public sphere and public place as an identified discipline have obviously changed by time. As one thinks about "art in the public sphere" in Turkey, primarily monuments and sculptures of Ataturk together with the Republican squares where they are seated come to mind. The project of creating a public domain, designed squares filled with monumental sculptures that were mostly financed by the state funds regularized in line with the ideological demands of the governments and local administrations played a major role. Parks and squares that were built within the framework of new urban ideal of the Early Republican Era were designed as the new public sphere. Art in the aforementioned domain meant "Gazi Sculptures" that were to be built everywhere, including even the smallest villages around Anatolia. As regards the embracement of the art of sculpture, the ideological need felt by the republican regime for monuments within the scope of modernization as a program played a significant role. The Movement for Monuments became an important element for the public visualisation and the adoption of principles signified by the six arrows of the Republican Peoples' Party. During 1933-1945, the period which includes the Second World War, the cultural formation that became a source for the art of monument/sculpture became a monumental tool for political propoganda in Turkey as in Europe and the Soviets. For Ataturk, image management had to start from point zero and it meant a secular image freed from religion which symbolizes the futuristic revolutionary ideology and democracy of the Turkish Republic. In 1946, religion, secularism and tradition came to the foregorund as issues that played significant roles in determining agendas of political parties which were the main tools for competitive elections. During the rule of the Democratic Party from 1950 to 1960, in line with policies of the central government, the number of Ataturk sculptures decreased and buildings like touristic hotels, banks and malls gained momentum. Artistic works also became important for ornamentation of monumental structures. During the period, artists from various disciplines carried out cooperative works for creating time and space. This particular approach suggested existence of sculptures in cooperation with architecture rather than its possession of the squares as monuments. The same approach also helped architecture as architecture of synthesis or art while it transformed into a main monument. With the military coup of 1960, activities in relation to monuments increased for refreshing the memory of Ataturk and for reinforcing loyalty to the revolutions. From then onward, more monuments were built in the university campuses. After the coup de main in 1980 September and during the celebrations of the 100th birthday of Ataturk, even more monuments and sculptures of Ataturk were built. Ataturk monuments which were mostly financed by the state funds were regularized and directed by the ideological demands of the local administrations and governments. These became widespread at every province, town and village from the east of Turkey to the west. Today one can see many Ataturk sculptures at almost each and every province and town. The Parliament, university campuses that increased in number with YOK (Council for Higher Education), schools, military compounds, war cemeteries, patios of public agencies are filled with those sculptures. Within the scope of competitions and projects launched by the municipalities of Istanbul and Ankara between 1970 and 1990, most urban sculptures that had been planned to get seated in the public domain were stolen or removed from their corresponding places. The nudity created by them was attacked, because of certain symbols such as the hammer and sickle; or due their abstract figures, they were disliked by certain political groups. They could not gain a spot in the public sphere. Not only the sculptures of Ataturk but any three dimensional work was in the sphere of vandalism. After the 1990s, as the variety of religious, historical and ethnical cultural identities and differences rendered as pluralisations increased, there was a need for monumental sculptures with political contents and presentations. After 2001 when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came into power, sculptures became new elements at mosques and squares. Images became more diverse, and besides Ataturk, other Turkish figures such as the Ottoman sultans, viziers and admirals as well as Anatolian poets, logos of provinces (cock, cow, cotton, cherry, watermelon etc) as figures, took their place in the public domain. As elsewhere in the world, the modernisation project that includeed the ideal of creation of spaces with monuments had completed its era in Turkey. Today many artists and artistic initiatives push forward and question the public domain and public places whilst they discuss the meaning