CAN DÜNDARS THEATER KOLUMNE #11

CAN DÜNDAR’IN TİYATRO SÜTUNU

Can Dündars Theater Kolumne

Zeichnung: Serkan Altuniğne*
– Stört es dich denn gar nicht, dich mit einem nackten Mann zu unterhalten?
– Meister, sieh du den Staat erst mal nackt!

THE CULTURE OF NAKEDNESS, MERKEL AND I

It’s summer in Berlin, so long, hot and sunny that it could have been a front cover for Der Spiegel. For someone like me who is from a Mediterranean climate, it is nice enough to make one forget about the heaviness of last summer...
I spent the whole of last summer in Berlin. I made the most of the empty streets, the shade of the  parks and the sun warming up the surrounding lakes. The lakes became my sea. I dived into the unsalted waters. 
While wandering around the secluded shoreline of one of the lakes I suddenly noticed that the people on the beach were completely naked. There was no material between them and the sun. I imagine that the sun was happy with this, as was the skin, as was the material…
Me?
Well... yes…
As someone who has come from a country where the trend is that the body should be covered rather than open, at the first instance I thought – I mustn’t look around. I mustn’t disturb anyone. I must either take off my clothes and take part or get out of there quickly. But this passed quickly. The naked people around the lake were at such a level of comfort and peace that they were oblivious to my discomposure. It was as if I were naked, not them.
The average age was quite high. While walking between these Adams and Eves with my head held down, I became in awe of the confidence and courage that they had with exposing the corners of the body that would not normally see the sun.
The thick line of bathing suits that would make a signature mark on most of our thighs and chests had not been able to hold on to their skin. They were making the most of being in complete freedom with their contact with the soil, the sun and the water. In the same way that they didn’t have bathing suits, they also didn’t have curious expressions on their faces.
Or prohibition…
For a while I experienced the feeling of inferiority of being a member of a group of people that banned nakedness and new thought.
Nudism was the outcry of the body and a declaration of freedom.
I was envious.

***
What came to mind was Angela Merkel and my prosecutor's questioning.
You may wonder why that has any relevance.
Really what has it got to do with anything?
On 26 November 2016, when I went into the room of the Chief Public prosecutor in Istanbul for questioning, the subject suddenly came to Merkel’s nakedness. I was actually giving a statement that had nothing to do with that. The Turkish government had been caught smuggling guns into Syria and I was being blamed with publishing the images regarding this in the newspaper that I was the director of. The prosecutor had invited me to take the comfortable seat in his big and comfortable room and was asking me why I was exposing the government in all its nakedness.
He invited me into the trap by asking >>Do you think everything can be news<<...
When my expression said >>What do you mean<<, he responded with this example:
>>As you know, in the recent past a naked photo from when the German Prime Minister was a youth has resurfaced.<<
I knew about it. It was a black and white, natural and sympathetic photo from one's youth…

Yes, but how did a naked photo from Merkel’s youth have anything to do with transporting guns to the Islamist fanatics in Syria?
The prosecutor explained:
>>The German newspapers didn’t use this photo.<<
Yes? Well?
Then the prosecutor took the interrogation to an even more interesting point:
>>If you found my naked picture, would you publish it in the newspaper?<<
The image of the prosecutor opposite me at a nudist camp visited my psyche and then left at great speed.
>>Of course not,<< I said. >>Why would I publish it?<<
>>So what’s the boundary?<< he asked.
>>Public interest<< I said:
>>Publishing either Merkel’s or your naked photo is of no public interest. However if the government is caught naked whilst taking part in illicit dealings, then a journalist would not hesitate for a minute, he would publish it.<<
The prosecutor didn’t seem convinced with this explanation…
His job was to keep the government's misdemeanours covered up. The one who lifted the veil would be blamed with betrayal. In fact, a few hours later, I was sent to prison with the >>charge of unveiling the government's secrets<<.
Merkel had no clue about her role in our interrogation.

***
When I left prison and was exiled to Germany, I met Merkel and the FKK culture. The truth of it is that the >>culture of the lack of clothing<< has affected me. First of all because of the way it forces us to be at peace with our body in an era when the need to have a >>flawless body<< has taken over.…
The un-sexualisation of nakedness, in opposition to a culture that bans and punishes nakedness by finding it >>disgraceful,<< >>exhibitionist<< and even >>pornographic<< shines like a torch of freedom. In a place that has made being dressed so commercial, being undressed is like an act of confident defiance. It is as if a person is undressing from shame and public boundaries. And in doing so is coming out against the notion that associates nakedness with the ideology of prostitution and something that is traded and sold. And this >>nakedness<< becomes a revolutionary action. However for us who have been questioned about nakedness, nudism has a more substantial meaning:
Being undressed is a means to defy the control of the government over our bodies and brains. This must be one of the reasons that nakedness is repressed so much… The falling of the leaves covering the decency of Adam and Eve is different to that of the government's. If their privacy is broken, then more than their >>fragile regions<< will be exposed.
In fact, I was able to see the private parts that the prosecutor was trying to hide even whilst he was in very smart clothes. If he were at peace with his body, then maybe he wouldn’t have been trying so hard to cover up the misdemeanours of the government.
It came at a high cost, but I saw what I needed to see.
 


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