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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 13 page 18


Germen offers us the standard perspective of downtown from Centre Island — he surely studied the postcards — except that he snapped his picture on an evening in the heart of winter so it is saturated with grey-blue coldness as evidenced in the clouds, the buildings, the icy Inner Harbour.

At the same time, we see that it’s an energetic city, busy keeping warm at any rate, as the lights in the towers and at ground level demonstrate.

Toronto seen from Centre Island
Murat Germen's Muta-morphosis Toronto #1 (2015)

When Germen applies his compression techniques to Istanbul, he likes to pinch the towers till they teeter on a pinpoint and you can see round their broken edges. Chaos seems close at hand. By contrast, Germen’s Toronto remains mostly unrattled and mostly monolithic. The CN Tower remains prominent and unassailable, with a nice red stripe that any colorist would want to preserve, an inescapable visual counterpoint to the thickly clustered core. In truth, as Germen possibly appreciated, from that perspective the tower was bound to dictate the photo, it was bound to call forth that big New-World sky — that sky with its high clouds catching the last rays of sunset, as tho the city is dreaming of future warmth.

On the other hand, the Rogers sportsdome more or less disappears, squeezed into the visual non-existence it so richly deserves.

A placard on the wall said that Germen's Toronto picture depicts a city “in collision,” but I don’t see it that way. I think those words were penned by some publicist regurgitating Germen’s standard explanation of his work. Clearly in Toronto the towers have already triumphed, it's a fait accompli. There’s no sign of a collision with the golden olden days, unless you want to argue that the big towers are crushing the smaller towers.

Bottom line, I wasn’t sure if Murat Germen was brusque toward Toronto or insightful. But there's no doubt as to his gifts as a photographer/artist and more. Germen has an academic background in city planning and architecture, but chose to cultivate photography since that turned out to be the pastime that was most congenial to him. Now he exhibits his works worldwide and sells to private collectors.

It may be, as he says, that his training as an architect and planner gives him a particular sense of space, and therefore a sense of how to manipulate space. If you get a chance, go see a Germen show.