THE FLAG

The Flag is the second part of Köken Ergun’s video series about the state-controlled national day ceremonies of the Turkish Republic. Shot during the April 23rd Children’s Day, which marks the establishment of the new Turkish Parliament, and the official demise of the Ottoman Empire back in 1920, this split screen film documents a pompous patriotic performance devised by elders to be performed by children. Hosted by the mayor and governor of Istanbul, with the participation of a high ranking general, the ceremony features poems and oaths read out loud by primary schools students, while patriotism becomes a hard-lined nationalism. One of them; The Flag is recited passionately by a girl who vows to “destroy the nest of any bird who doesn’t salute [her country’s] flag in flight” and “dig the grave of anyone who doesn’t look at the flag the way [she does].”

I,SOLDIER

“I, Soldier” is the first part of Köken Ergun’s video series in which he deals with the state-controlled ceremonies for the national days of the Turkish Republic. The nationalistic attributes attached to these large-scale ceremonies are underlined in a non-descriptive and almost voyeuristic point of view. I, Soldier was shot at the National Day for Youth and Sports, the day that marks the start of the independence war of the Turkish public under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk against the Allied Forces back in 1919. The annual ceremony held at the biggest stadium of each city consists of figurative dances of high school students, choreographed in a timeless socialist-realist manner. In the last decade, popular songs have replaced the usual military marches, which accompanied the choreography. In this video a nationalist hip-hop song is played during the gymnastic demonstrations of the military school students, backed by a stern poem of a high-ranking soldier about the virtues of “The Soldier”.

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