Play it, Emin: Walking along the Russian Monument at Ayastefanos

This work is part of Eleni Kamma‘s project Oh, for some amusement!

Play it, Emin: Walking along the Russian Monument at Ayastefanos takes as a point of departure the historical event that signified the start of a national cinema in Turkey in 1914: the demolition of the Russian victory monument in Constantinople (now Istanbul) after the declaration of war between the Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire in 1914. The filmic documentation of it got lost: Ayastefanos’taki Rus Abidesinin Yıkılışı ‘Demolition of the Monument at San Stefano’ (1914) directed by former army officer Fuat Uzkınay.

Kamma commissioned Karagöz (traditional Turkish shadow play) master Emin Senyer to animate the demolition act of the non-preserved film, based on the following existing information material: three photos documenting the demolition and a description of the event by two different sources, the lieutenant-demolisher’s personal memoirs, and newspaper announcements. On the left screen, the camera moves along the actual location (Florya, Istanbul suburb) where the destruction of the monument took place 100 years ago. The right screen shows the process of the build-up and rehearsal of Emin Senyer’s shadow theatre reconstruction of the demolition act.

Two channel HD video projection, 14′ 19″, colour & stereo sound, NL, 2014

Concept: Eleni Kamma
Master Craftsman & Shadow Puppeteer: Emin Şenyer
Camera operator: Boris Van Hoof
Editing: Inneke Van Waeyenberghe
Sound Design: Laszlo Umbreit
Script Montage and Editing: Tina Van Baren
Turkish to English Translation: Merve Unsal
Research Assistant: Gulsen D. Akbas

Texts/Excerpts from:
Istanbul Encyclopaedia, Ayastefanos Rus Abidesi, Reşid Halid Gönç
Istanbul Encyclopaedia, Rakım Çalapala
Tarih Dünyasi, article by retired lieutenant colonel Y. Bahri Doğançay
Tanin Newspaper, November 15, 1914
Tasfiri Efkar Newspaper, November 20, 1914
Sabah newspaper, December 3, 2012