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.”
— Imran Ali Malik (@_iamalik) June 18, 2013
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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?'”
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.