German photographer sees conflict with lens
Friday, October 5, 2007
Claudius Schulze is a Conflict Analysis
and Resolution student at Sabanci University and is kicking off his school year
with a photograph exhibition on the terrorist bombing in Jordan. Schulze
captures with his lens the renovated hotels one year after the bombings and
pairs them with news clippings of the horrific events.
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Sixty people died in bombings carried out by terrorists at three Western hotels in Amman, Jordan on Nov. 9, 2005. A year after the attacks, one man went back to photograph what, if anything, was left of the horrendous devastation wrecked on the hotels.
Claudius Schulze's photographs of one hotel are on display in an exhibit titled “Bombsite Revisited” at the Gaf Theater in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district.
“The hotel is completely renovated. There is nothing that reminds you of the attacks anymore,“ Schulze said. “As if there were no attacks, as if there was no conflict.“
The photographs are accompanied by graphic news accounts of the bombings, creating an almost eerie juxtaposition.
Schulze has a knack for combining conflict and photography, his professional work and passion, respectively.
He has documented his travels, including the three months he worked in Amman, Jordan as an intern at Transparency International, as a delegate at a United Nations conference and his visits to Burma and Ecuador.
“Conflicts were always at the center of my photographic work,” he said.
Schulze came from Hamburg to the Bosporus a couple of weeks ago to obtain his masters degree. He says what mainly drove him to do so was the belief that studies abroad will be a worthy experience. His fascination with Istanbul also played a part in bringing him here.
“Few universities in Europe offer a master's degree in conflict analysis,” he said, “and in Turkey, you can only study it at Sabanci University. But I am very happy to be here in Istanbul; I could hardly find a more interesting place.”
One reason for his fascination with Istanbul is that he has always been searching for what “Europeanness” is and where it comes from. “And so far, I see – doubtless – Istanbul as a very, very European city,” he said.
Another aspect that makes the city appealing to him is his interest in Islam and the Near and Middle East, and the fact that he sees Istanbul as a gateway to this area.
He explains that his interest in oriental culture derives from the belief that what is today seen as two very distinguished cultures, oriental and occidental, have a common basis that is about to be forgotten.
“If you look at science and philosophy, the understanding of time as continuous in modern Europe, you can clearly see the Eastern influence,” he said, “but at some point, an extreme strong division occurred. Why? What was at the base of this?” he said.
Application not all that easy
It was not all that easy, though, to be accepted at the private Sabanci University. Even though foreign applicants, unlike their Turkish colleagues, do not have to pass the national university entrance exam (ÖSS), they still have to prove their skills in the challenging Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which measures analytical thinking and verbal expression skills.
In his span4 weeks, Schulze is satisfied by his new learning environment: The seminars are less full then in Germany; the professors seem more motivated to him.
“I am planning on a practical career in the field of conflict resolution and peace work,” he said. “I am sure that a master in a foreign country will be helpful for finding a good job in that area.”
He wonders why only one university in Turkey offers a degree in conflict resolution, considering the country's geographical situation with diverse ethnicities and very different lifestyles meeting up here.
“But this aspect makes it, of course, more interesting for me to study here,” he said.
Practical aspects have been important for the student ever since he started writing for German dailies Hamburger Morgenpost and Taz, reporting mainly on aspects related to his fields of study, and especially since he discovered his passion for photography.
“Still I wonder if photography is not the profession I belong to,” he said, “but then I think I can combine my interest in conflict and peace with photography. It is a big issue how conflicts should or can be represented and shown, an issue that shows itself in all my photography work.”
Conflicts reflected in photography
He admits that he sees many possible motives in Istanbul, and said he is currently developing concepts to document them.
“The city's recent development, it's position, and the development of Turkey: I find it extremely interesting and am happy to be here for the next two years,” he said.
For more information, visit www.gaf-istanbul.org.
© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc. www.turkishdailynews.com.tr