On the night of June 17, 2013, in the midst of all the chaos a young man in white shirt entered Taksim Square, just stood still and silent facing huge Atatürk posters hanging on the façade of the old cultural center. In the heyday of Gezi Park protests while police brutality became an everyday routine, tear gas was felt everywhere around the square and water cannons were used against masses of protestors, this young man choice a compelling way of resistance. He just stood still in complete silence. He did not utter a word. He did not move for 8 hours. At times when words seemed to be meaningless, there came a simple gesture.
“Standing Man” (Duran Adam) was like a summary of all Gezi spirit. Protestors were disgusted with nonsensical political discourse, Prime Minister’s aggression, loud and offensive debates, obnoxious statements and conventional politics. This time there was no word, no text, no leader in this performance. It was simple, calm, gentle, aesthetic, yet intense. This micro-seized moderate act made the whole grand political narratives look ridiculous. Since Gezi protests started with citizens’ environmentalist concerns to protect a park, this performance was conveniently overlapped with the urban culture. We all know that public spaces are for the use of citizens in democratic countries. Parks, squares, playing fields are supposed to be there for artistic expressions, spontaneous acts, shows unlike closed or restricted urban areas of authoritarian regimes. In this context, Standing Man symbolized all the democratic demands of protestors blended in creativity and modesty. The act was unexpected, spontaneous and at first seemed trivial, however, it eventually snowballed into something big. Others joined to this young man and the performance turned into a peaceful mass protest. In many cities in Turkey and around the world, hundreds of standing men and women stood still in absolute silence turning their vulnerability into an unbreakable power.