Artist: Ahmet Gunestekin
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: Middle East
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Turkish Citizens
Description of Artwork: The sculpture is comprised of metal lettering spelling out the word, "Kostantiniyye," which was the Ottoman name for the city. The statue was ordered in by art collector, Ahmet Gunestekin and was unveiled in front of his shopping mall shortly after his 50th birthday.
The Incident: Within hours of the statue's unveiling, it was attacked by an angry mob who had flooded the shopping center with their angry sentiments. The police covered the sculpture in a black tarp in an effort to settle the anger and hatred for the piece.
'The problem, it emerged, was that the protesters confused the Ottoman name "Kostantiniyye" with the Greek or Byzantine "Constantinople".
'An Arabised version of the Greek name, the designation Kostantiniyye was used by the Ottomans on official documents and coins for the duration of their nearly 600-year rule, Gunestekin explained. It was only in the Turkish Republic that the city was officially renamed Istanbul by Ataturk.
'"We consigned the Byzantine Empire to history in 1453," an enraged protester outside the mall shouted, referring to the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman sultan Fatih. "Are you trying to revive it?"
'"Our ancestor Fatih buried you, and we will bury you again," another nationalist demonstrator said, in remarks broadcast on an Islamist TV channel.
'"These people call themselves the heirs of Sultan Fatih, when in fact it was Fatih who named the city Kostantiniyye," Gunestekin lamented. "Their ignorance is really the worst part of it."' (The National)
Results of Incident: Due to threats of arson and pressure from municipal authorities, Gunestekin agreed to dismantle the sculpture. The piece was subsequently removed, taken apart and placed in storage.
The Turkish art that was lost in translation: Within hours, the sculpture by Turkish artist Ahmet Gunestekin was attacked by an enraged mob and had to be dismantled. It turns out protestors had confused the Ottoman name of the sculpture 'Kostantiniyye' with the Greek or Byzantine 'Constantinople'. The National, Susanne Gusten Foreign Correspondent, January 8, 2017
Mirror site: The Turkish art that was lost in translation, The National,