Visions of Resistance #3: Ayla Hibri

Lebanese photographer Ayla Hibri talks us through some of her most powerful activist images

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Ayla Hibri

Inspired by the protestor's spirit and shocked at the police violence in Istanbul, under the tag "Visions Of Resistance", Dazed will showcase photographers on the ground in Gezi Park, and their pictures of the troubles. Take a look at Ayla Hibri's shots below, and see the rest of the series here

My name is Ayla Hibri, I am 26 years old from Beirut, Lebanon and I have been living in Turkey for 2 years. I am a photographer and I work at ISTANBUL'74, a platform for arts and culture. I heard about it like everyone else, on Facebook, the moment it started happening. I immediately headed towards Gezi Park to see it up close. It was very moving to see all these people gathered for a cause. I come from a country where this has been going on since the day I was born, so I already have a lot on my plate. At the beginning I felt like an intruder. The next day, I was swept away and this became my revolution. My photographs focus on the aftermath of the clashes, and what happens on the sidelines. What you may not have heard about in the news but is just as integral an expression of what’s happening.

One of the most fascinating things about the demonstrations was the way the centre of Istanbul was spontaneously split into different battlefields. Gezi Park is about unity and generosity. It’s peaceful, trees are being planted, food given away. There is a library, a pharmacy, musicians. The neighborhood of Cihangir is where you protest with a beer in your hand, and you can participate from your own home by banging on pots and pans. Cihangir is also where you debate politics, solutions, and take a break. Taksim and the areas surrounding the square (Gumussuyu, Dolmabahce..) are the real battlefields. This is where you get gassed, and where you can only go if you are properly equipped.

I try to avoid this area, or at least go there after the chaos subsides for the day. I prefer walking down Istiklal Street at 5am. The main artery of downtown Istanbul looks like a post-apocalyptic movie. Of course everything is back in order in the morning. I am amazed by the light-hearted atmosphere among the protesters. This contrasts completely with their tenacity and solidarity when they clash with the police. I tried to show some of these singularly Turkish moments in my photographs.

People quickly adapted to police tactics. They walk around with goggles, gas masks, and carry lemons and antacids to neutralize the effect of the tear gas. Entrepreneurs are hawking anti-teargas kits, refreshments and Guy Fawkes masks, which have become ubiquitous in Istanbul’s bazaars. Memes and slogans spread as quickly on the walls of downtown Istanbul as they did on Twitter. Nothing was sacred, not even the Prime Minister’s wife. The Ecuadorian band that performs daily on Istiklal street was surrounded by the usual crowd, except everyone was wearing a gas mask. It was surreal but everyone was behaving like it was completely normal. I have no idea when this will end. No one does. 

To view more of Ayla's work, visit http://www.aylahibri.com.

 

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