Just as Serbia’s Excavator Joe is ‘always in the opposition‘, so Turkey’s radically-democratic Beşiktaş football fan club Çarşı is ‘against everything’, even itself. Like Joe became acclimatised to clouds of tear gas, pepper gas became ‘the Besiktas fan’s perfume‘ (long before the revolution). And unconsciously echoing Joe’s Bulldozer Revolution, Çarşı too used a mechanical excavator in battle with the state.
The Social Event Intervention Vehicle (Toplumsal Olaylara Müdahale Aracı (TOMA)) is a key (and highly visible) weapon in the Turkish riot police’s arsenal. On the 2nd of June 2013, during the first week of the Turkish state’s brutal repression of the Gezi uprising, Çarşı hotwired a machine excavator (Ser-Tuğ Yıkımcılık’s Komatsu ekskavatör), and thereby transformed it into a Police Event Intervention Vehicle (Polis Olaylara Müdahale Aracı (POMA)). In their most A Team adaptation, they converted a cafe table parasol into a tear gas (canister) and water cannon shield.
Offering a new design for Çarşı’s logo, Koray Durkal (@kdurkal) formed their anarchist A with the hotwired excavator.
Others have (graphically) reworked artefacts of popular culture. Recep Baltaş digitally remade Decepticons vs Transformers as Polisticons vs Dirensformers, (villain) Police against (hero) Resisters.(1)
Leaving university in the midst of the uprising, students turned their graduation ceremonies into mass exhibitions of resistance. Instead of their traditional displays, one group of students at Middle East Technical University (METU (2)) made movable figures of the POMA and the TOMA.(3) As the students processed around the track, so the POMA drove back the TOMA.
Already, symbols of the protests have become ‘merchandise’, memorabilia and/or objects of ‘personal heritage’/'identity’. Echoing calls for the use of ‘disproportionate intelligence‘ against state violence, there is a “disproportionate”-themed range of goods, including a Disproportionate POMA.
1: The story was the (non-canonical) fable of the Fall of Tomatron (Megatron) and the Rise of Poma Prime (Optimus Prime).
2: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (ODTÜ).
3: The figures could be seen to follow the historic style of Karagöz shadow puppet theatre.