Performance Artist Erdem Gunduz Becomes Symbol Of Turkish Protests

“I’m nothing. The idea is important,” says the artist, who has become known as the “Standing Man.”

A Turkish performance artist who says he is “nothing” has become a symbol of Turkish protests. Erdem Gunduz has been dubbed the “Standing Man” after he stood motionless in Taksim Square for eight hours, between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, when he and other silent protesters were dispersed by the police.


“I’m nothing,” said Gunduz, whose silent stance in front of a portrait of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, has earned him the Twitter hashtag #duranadam, Turkish for “Standing Man.”


In an interview with the BBC, Gunduz continued, “The idea is important: why people resist the government. The government doesn’t want to understand, didn’t try to understand why people are on the streets. This is really silent resistance. I hope people stop and think ‘what happened there?'”

As with other Arab Spring uprisings, social media is playing an important part in the protests, which started after plans were unveiled to develop Gezi Park, one of the only green spaces in Istanbul.

The largely peaceful demonstrations have been met with tear gas and stun grenades by the police. Two weeks ago, 24 people were detained for allegedly spreading anti-government propaganda on Twitter, which the Turkish PM has described as “a menace.”


Will Mr. Gunduz’s art become as well known as that of another famous dissident artist? Ai Weiwei has been exhibiting his latest work at the Venice Biennale. One of his oeuvres, Dumbass, is a music video depicting his time in detention in his homeland.

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