Attention the System
Turkey, 1999, just one year before this poster was printed, published and distributed throughout Turkey, I visited Turkey. A country of vivid contrasts, bustling European style cities, one of them hosting one of the world’s largest Jazz festivals, and remote villages with unpaved streets to lone houses standing, surrounded by a mud yard. Everywhere there were satellite dishes on houses, beautiful carpets hanging from second floor balconies and women working, in the fields, with short hoes while the men who had driven them, to the fields, in pony drawn carts were sitting in the village tea houses.
Earlier in my life I lived in Germany where the many Gast Arbiters who are Turks are denied citizenship. It was troubling how poorly treated they were by the Germans. The Turks did much of the hard physical labour that made Germany such a comfortable place to live. Yet the Turks lived in small apartments that might not have running hot water. Today the children of those Turks I knew are fighting for citizenship in Germany, the only country they have ever known.
Savas Cekic designed this poster during better economic times. Today, as the western world experiences an economic downturn, I wonder how much harder it will be for Turkish people in Turkey. Those men who bargained with me over wool rugs, large and small, what poverty are they facing today? The girls who made the rugs, for a pittance, what is their life like today? Perhaps the poster has a message for us today that is more timely than Cekic could have known in 2000.
Dr. Sunny Zank is a professor in the Department of Music.
image: Savas Cekic, “Attention the System,” Turkey, 2000, 50 x 70 cm.