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Tommaso Protti August 22, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Turkey.
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From the project about Kurds in Turkey. Mardin, Anatolia 2012

Tommaso Protti (1986, Italy) grew up in Rome and is currently based in London. His interest in social problems led him to getting a degree in Political Science and then into photography. He worked as an assistant to Francesco Zizola and received an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His stories document social, political and environmental issues. Tommaso’s work has been widely exhibited in Italy and the UK. He received a Lucie Award and two first prizes at the Fotoleggendo and Portfolio Italia. Tommaso is a contributing photographer with Le Monde and The New York Times, and a member of Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of a long-term project that aims to identify how social, political and economic factors have contributed to alienating the Kurdish minority in Turkey, and to capture the social fabric of the region and Kurdish struggle to obtain full recognition of their cultural identity. The photo was made inside a primary school in Mardin, one of the largest cities in the southeastern Anatolia region where the Kurdish population is predominant.”

“I wanted to raise questions about the issue of the Kurdish language and the fact that it has not yet been fully recognized and authorized to be taught in Turkey. The language challenged the national myth that all citizens of Turkey are ethnic Turks. So it was treated as a crime against the state. Repression and forced assimilation were so brutal that many Kurds in Turkey no longer speak Kurdish fluently. When I saw the portrait of Musafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder father of the Turkish Republic, inside the school I immediately thought that it could symbolize in a picture the strength of the Turkish State and its strict control over the young Kurdish generations. The rest was a patient aesthetic research of how to combine all the elements available to me, and the wait to place everything in a spontaneous way.”

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