Week 1 – What is CONTRA, and Why CONTRA: 1989 – 2009

The advertisements have been playing a significant role in shaping particularly children but also individuals and the society as a whole, developing the cultural and social collective memory, and the creation and documentation of history through the manipulation of almost the same patterns and statements:

Buy whatever you desire and consume, and beat others; nothing else but only the individual desires and pleasures matter.

We have been exploiting and contaminating the natural resources rapidly. The egalitarian competition to take over these natural resources also experiences a serious corruption. Data show that peace not only within a society but also among different societies could not be attained; furthermore, the rate of violence accelerates. There is no doubt that big companies and advertisements are responsible for the consumption culture that gigantically develops and invades the sphere where law and justice is totally neglected, and immensely corrupts both the environment and the former cultural norms that value cooperation, collaboration, and sharing. This perception of consumption makes individuals identical and destroys the cultural and ecological environment.

Contra is the name that we give to our studies after 2007 consisting of less-than-one-minute advertisements produced with social and ecological aims, which also include the posters, logos, web pages and radio spots. We believe there is a distinct difference we do emphasise between social responsibility projects and contra products. Because contra is produced free of any organisations and groups, it can be more independent and critical. It is realised through a more economical production process; almost all the money and effort spent is invested in the intended message rather than the advertisements of the company that funds the production. We particularly do not want our work to be compared with social ads and social responsibility projects because the aims, aesthetic structures, production processes and financial constructions are completely different from each other.

Contras are the films and campaigns that aim at collaboration and sharing. They try to reduce consumption, contamination and corruption; furthermore, they mainly concentrate on the neglected rather than the most beautiful, the best and the most visible. We are a team consisting of artists, educationalists, people in advertising business and students. We design posters and web pages, make films using this form of propaganda.  We have made films about social and environmental issues such as smoking, accidental exposure to corrosives, child health care, street children, earthquake, violence on women, violence in sports, hooliganism, traffic rules, sea pollution, the importance of drinking water resources, city and noise pollution, erosion, destruction of forests, schizophrenia, myopathy, Mediterranean seals, a world without land mines, peace in the world, children’s right to play games, protection of the Caretta Caretta nesting areas, protecting children against sexual abuse, and refugees and their rights. These films have been used and still being used by television channels not only in Turkey but also worldwide, by NGO’s, AGO’s(?), schools, ministries, municipalities, and they are shown in festivals.

We genuinely care about ecological and human problems; we are excited about and also influenced by these processes not because they are “the fundamental duties of any good person” or “social responsibility” but because they are processes of creation. This is the real meaning of producing contra.

Especially today, the social terrains in this country are manipulated by big companies, the advertising companies that serve these corporations and the NGO’s that are established or made to be established by those companies. The sole purpose of the advertising companies that make business with those huge companies is to increase consumption as capitalism manipulates and urges a consumer who has a new car to buy a newer one and get rid of the ‘old’ one. The dilemma lies beneath the reality that these companies that are experts in pumping consumption pretend to take part in campaigns that aim at giving ecological and human-oriented messages.

There is no doubt that these huge companies and the NGO’s that they found cannot adopt a critical approach towards these social issues; moreover, when we consider the fact that TV channels are also controlled by these three forces, the possibility that any issue could be concealed rather than raised sounds quite rational.

Today universities, and maybe the state, (because the current structure of universities make them flawed) have to seriously consider making films free of partisanship to address to the social and environmental issues from a rational perspective with a concern of benefitting the public rather than allow their proponents to use the funds available. This is the only way that the possibility to create independent films which demonstrate the real issues aesthetically could emerge. Doing all these and saving the resources is important not only for Turkey but also for the entire world.

In recent years, I witness that both in the world of advertising and in universities people who have never had any connection with environmental and social problems demonstrate their intention to make social advertisements. All of a sudden the environment, seas and social issues have started bearing importance for larger groups. At first glance, this seems rather positive; however, the difference between today and the past is not that the number of issues has increased but it is the fact that a great deal of national and multinational funds have been directed into this sphere. We only hope that this new promising intention of such people is not related to the considerable amount of European Union funds reserved for this field. If the reason behind this intention is these funds but nothing else especially in universities, it will be no different from that of the advertising companies and some NGO’s, and maybe our last hope would be wasted.

Today, both in Turkey and in the whole world, the NGO’s, European funds, national and multinational corporations, the advertising companies and the newly opened (the oldest was opened only five years ago) “social responsibility departments” that rapidly expand in those companies have been merged. I am one of the individuals who started working on such films in the 1990’s when this field was far less popular than it is today. Before such large amounts of funds were directed into this sphere, it was easier to establish the ethics; also, the criticisms were being approved then. Nevertheless, this narrow area has also been contaminated like the soil and the water that we breathe in.

Consequently, in a short period of time, we will end our productions in this area, and we will put a great deal of our effort in merely increasing the free worldwide distribution and circulation of the products that we have already created.

*You may watch some of the films mentioned on www.vimeo.com . The copyrights are assigned to the public.

In English;

mediterranean is over: http://www.vimeo.com/1017665
ecosystem films: http://www.vimeo.com/1274605
earthquake film: http://www.vimeo.com/1274398
accidental ıngestion of corrosive subs.: http://www.vimeo.com/1274364
films against violence: http://www.vimeo.com/1274257
ecosystem films: http://www.vimeo.com/1272643
films against drug addiction: http://www.vimeo.com/1272356
how wonderfull is reading: http://www.vimeo.com/1272282
films against cigarette addiction: http://www.vimeo.com/1272120
documentary is ımportant: http://www.vimeo.com/1272076
scizophrenia films: http://www.vimeo.com/1271852
1 film for homeless children: http://www.vimeo.com/1271648
anti war films: http://www.vimeo.com/1271401
neuro muscular disorder films: http://www.vimeo.com/1270653

In Turkish;


sigara ve madde bağımlılığı: http://www.vimeo.com/1310843
caretta caretta: http://www.vimeo.com/1310741
kadın ve şiddet: http://www.vimeo.com/1310339
şizofreni hastalığı: http://www.vimeo.com/1310188
savaşa hayır: http://www.vimeo.com/1309982



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