Faces of the Gezi Park Protests

Feb 6, 2014
Photographer Spotlight

By Karrisa Olsen

11 deaths, over 8,000 people injured, nearly 4,900 arrested.

This was the chaotic outcome of what began as a plan to turn Gezi Park, one of the few remaining green spaces in Istanbul, into a shopping mall back in May of 2013. Hans Hochstöeger knew he had to somehow document the anarchic events that would someday appear in history books. He didn’t, however, have a desire to photograph the actual protest, as he felt the participants did a good job at that themselves. Teaming up with a fellow photographer, Arnold Pöschl, Hans began to look deeper into the identities of the people standing up for their rights and risking their lives to do so.

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The world watched as police officers set tents up in flames, used tear gas (which brought us the powerful Woman in Red photos) and water canons to rid the crowds. Hans, who is based in Austria, took two trips to Istanbul in both July and October, getting in touch with protestors to take their portrait and better understand the passion behind their involvement. Hans and Arnold were classmates in photography school and still meet weekly to discuss projects and bounce ideas off of each other. Hans said Arnold helped motivate him, and that working on this project together was a reminder to forget about competition and instead put your best effort toward collaborating.

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The series of portraits, which they plan to continue in February, is currently being exhibited at the TiranaEkspres Gallery in Albania and has also been exhibited at Art Lane in Klagenfurt, Austria (below). Hans plans to widen the focus to protest movements in countries like Brazil, Egypt and Germany.

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Hans considers Istanbul close to his heart and says he learned that there is always a way to oppose a government destined in the wrong direction. What impacted him most about the project was simply this: “everybody had a story to tell, a remark to make, something which struck his heart.”

View more images from this project and the rest of Hans Hochstöeger’s work on his website.

Tags: gezi park protesters hans hochstoeger karrisa olsen portraits wonderful machine