I got a news alert on my phone this afternoon that “a gunman shot the Russian ambassador to Turkey” at the Contemporary Arts Center in Ankara, Turkey. The museum, also known as “Cer Modern,” was hosting the ambassador at an exhibition of photography titled “Russia through Turks’ Eyes.”
What struck me about the news reporting was the fact that a photographer (or photographers) were there for the event and captured it all while it happened, getting close-up photographs of the shooter and the victim. The photographs were very surreal, as if they were out of a video game or something – I can’t imagine the nerve of the photographer(s) to stand there and take pictures of the shooter without concern that he might turn and shoot them too …?
I hesitate to show any of the initial pictures that I saw online, due to the graphic nature of the images, and due to not wanting to show the actual faces of the gunman or the victim – I’ll let you find that elsewhere, if you’re interested. But I guess it’s hard to discuss these images without showing anything, so I’m going to publish one (with a face blurred) that seems relatively safe in comparison to the first pictures I saw. This is moments after the shooting, with the shooter standing over the Russian ambassador, Andrey Karlov.
I’m also not going to try to interpret or report on all of the political aspects of the situation, as it is still unfolding, and as it relates to political relationships between Russia and Turkey and current events related to Syria beyond my level of accurate knowledge. But I’m posting about the event as it allows me to cover a different angle – the arts angle, since this is an arts blog – that ties in to my curiosity about this shocking event.
My first thought from an arts perspective was: is there something specific about this art exhibition that was important to this setting for an assassination? I went looking for the Cer Modern website, only to find that it has been taken down. I wondered if it was taken down due to the day’s events, but it seems to be a more-innocent and simple reason: the domain name registration expired last week and is “pending renewal,” so the hosting company – GoDaddy – took down the site due to lack of payment. That seems a bit odd and mysterious, however – that a significant arts center in a major Turkish city with a population of 4.6 million would accidentally forget to renew their domain name, something that generally costs in the range of $15 and is usually auto-renewed to the credit card on file.
This commentary on the lack of an accessible website is because I had wanted to see information about the exhibition on the museum’s site so that I could learn more about the art and the artists, but I guess there’s no such luck as of now. I pulled some various pictures of the art work and put together a composite image here to show you that the art itself seems pretty non-inflammatory in any political way, at least as far as the imagery. And yes, this top part of the picture – despite looking like something out of a James Bond movie – is indeed an image from today’s event, with the gunman in front of a wall of pictures. If we find out anything more relating to the art in this show, we’ll let you know.