Jakob Gautel

Jakob was born in 1965 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Lives and works in Paris.

My project for the 3rd International Çanakkale Biennial, “Heroes of the Dardanelles,” derives its inspiration from a local hero, Seyit Çabuk, better known as Corporal Seyit. This regular soldier with a modest background is said to have carried bombshells weighing 275 kilograms on his back to an artillery piece, on March 18th 1915 as the allied forces were attacking the Dardanelles, in one of the 1st World War’s most renowned battles. Several statues of him carrying a bombshell on his back, with one foot on a step, now stand in Çanakkale. I proposed to interpret these statues with people of Çanakkale from every age group, ethnicity and life background. Participants were photographed in Corporal Seyit’s well known pose. But each one carried a different object, representing the “load of their life”. The objects were related to work, social or family background, or metaphorical, and always related to the question, “What is the burden you carry in your life?”

Some examples of answers:

“I carry my family with this job for 35 years” (Cahit, tea seller) “People are used to call me octopus as I am dealing with ten things at the same time.” (Bilge, dentist) “My burden is solitude in my quest for enlightment. » (Tolga, engineer and musician) “The needs are very heavy to carry but the salary is not enough to survive.” (Halil, cartoonist) “My conscience and my responsability toward the world. » (Aynur, newspaper editor) « I have so many questions about my future, they are like a huge question mark on my shoulders.” (Helin, secondary school pupil) The project was carried out between 22 and 27 of September 2012 and these 14 chosen photographs give an idea of what could be a portrait of Çanakkale and its people; an ode to their everyday bravery, making them “heroes” of their own kind. Some photos have been printed in large size, and all in black and white by the local newspaper Canakkale Olay.

Many thanks to Seyhan Boztepe, Beral Madra, Deniz Erbaş and my assistant Adem Yavuz as well as all the Biennial team for their kind invitation and support; to Olay News¬paper for their contribution on the printing of the journal and Nebi Altıntaş, Reyhan Hoşnut, Muhammed Said Gürhan, Bilge Şimşek, Cahit Yontar, Tolga Atmaca, Olcay Tümer, Tuğba Aytekin, Erdoğan Zeybek, Serpil Vesek, Özay Sevinç, Halil Özçelik, Helin Sude Boztepe, Aynur Ganiler for their participation, and to Hakan Kırdar as well as all the people of Çanakkale.

In 1934-35, the French playwright Jean Giraudoux wrote the play "The Trojan War Will Not Take Place". He imagined a story about history and how events could have had a different outcome if the pacifist current in Troy had succeeded in convincing the beautiful Helen to go back to Sparta, the explosive situation that led to the Trojan War would have been deflated. The witty, sensible and intelligent play has become a great classic in world theatre. Giraudoux wrote it when he was haunted by memories of the catastrophe of the First World War and under the menacing shadows of rising nationalism and dictatorships in Europe and beyond, finally leading to the outbreak of the Second World War four years after the play's 1935 premiere in Paris.

The artist Jakob Gautel, who previously participated in the 2012 Çanakkale Biennial with the project "Heroes of the Dardanelles", imagines how the play would be perceived today, if it were happening right here and now, presented as breaking news on television.