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The Parallel State

The Parallel State

by Guy Martin

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The Parallel State by photographer Guy Martin is a multi-layered project which began life as an examination of the Turkish soap opera and film industry, but evolved over the course of five years, into a semi-fictional study of truth, reality and lies in contemporary Turkey.

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Martin had lived and photographed in the Middle East for most of his career, and moved to Istanbul in 2012. At the time, Turkey was regarded as a nation of wealth and power, with a stable democracy with secular leadership. However, this began to change with the rise of Islamic State, Presidential elections, the Kurds becoming a credible political force, the refugee crisis, and the
failed coup d’etat by a section of the Turkish armed forces in 2016. In this volatile environment, fake news, before it was known as ‘fake news’, thrived, fuelled by
change and instability.

Against this backdrop, Martin was drawn to explore Turkish soap operas, some of the most watched television shows in the world. The soap operas that had previously exported a simultaneously nostalgic and
socially progressive vision of Turkey across the Arab world, refocused their storylines to emphasize Turkish military and political power plots by deep state operatives, collusion by foreign powers, and terrorist attacks. Martin was introduced to a soap opera Director and given free rein to shoot on set, recording the action both during, before and after the cameras were rolling.

When protests broke out in 2013 in Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul, although not initially wishing to document the
protests, Martin attended and began to shoot in a new way, with multiple flash guns, inspired by his time on set of the soap operas. The unrest quickly expanded to include encroachments on secularism, police brutality and further protests for freedom of expression, the press and assembly. The protestors were middle class, wealthy and highly effective at communicating their own protest through social media.

Upon viewing the photographs from this period, Martin became aware of the similarities and echoes between his on-set soap opera shots and his documentary images – fantasy was inspiring real life events which in turn inspired fantasy. He began to have déjà vu moments where he was convinced he had either seen something on TV and then experienced it real life and vice versa. The result, is that The Parallel State pulls these disparate storylines together - urban myths, fiction, fear, political drama, documentary and fact – into a cinematic, non-linear narrative guided by colour, mood and atmosphere.  

Published in December 2018
245 x 185 mm (portrait)
232 pp, 135 full colour illustrations
Hardback, paperbound foil block with 5 different French folded jacket – replica of a vintage Turkish movie poster which can be fully removed.
5 alternate sections on thinner stock
Essays by Pelin Turgut, Piotr Zalweski
ISBN 978-1-910401-22-4

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  • Guy Martin is a British documentary photographer. He graduated with a B.A(HONS) in Documentary Photography from the University of Wales, Newport and shortly afterwards, won the Guardian and Observer Hodge Award. He went on to pursue a long-term project in Southern Russia and the Caucasus, before documenting the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. His work has been published in The Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Der Spiegel, D Magazine, FADER Magazine, Monocle Magazine, Huck Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, ARTWORLD, The New Statesman, The Wall Street Journal and Time amongst others. The Parallel State was supported by grants from the Magnum Emergency Fund and the Saint-Brieuc Photoreporter Festival and was the winner of the inaugural Viewbook Transformations Grant, and the Project Launch Award at CENTER, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The project was first exhibited in the Rencontres d’Arles 2017 as part of the New Discovery Award. Martin is a member of Panos Pictures, and his print sales and special commissions are represented by NinteenSixtyEight.