When the uprisings of May ’68 broke out, Gökşin Sipahioğlu had been stationed in Paris for just a year as a correspondent for several large Turkish newspapers. He was also one of the photographers affiliated with VIZO Agency (forerunner of Gamma and of course SIPA PRESS), which also distributed Gilles Caron—who would later perish in Cambodia in the prime of his life, inaugurating a long list of photojournalists fallen in the battlefield or gunned down by fanatics.
Gökşin’s essential quality resides in his keen, intelligent gaze, which in turn nourishes the creative bursts of the imagination capable of prescience and foresight. Hundreds of Gökşin’s photos have already been used around the world. May ’68 was the final test: would he be admitted among the greats? All the world’s best photographers were running that month between Boulevard Saint-Michel, the Bastille, and the Champs-Elysees. Competition was tough. The great Turk proved to everyone that he was someone to be reckoned with. He accumulated a string of front pages and double-page spreads.
One of his most eloquent photos portraying the famous “Printemps des Enragés” is, in my opinion, the one showing the devastated streets of the Latin Quarter at night, with students excitedly hoisting a sign torn off of a movie theater. It reads “Police sur la ville,” which is the French translation of the title of Don Siegel’s film “Madigan.”
Gökşin’s name is synonymous with being on alert, armed with dogged patience. He was adept at waiting, picking the right time and place where to capture the scene he felt was about to unfold.
It was thanks to this “Printemps des Enragés” that Gökşin Sipahioğlu came to be known in France. He was also determined to sell his work and prove his talent. May ’68 offered him just the opportunity he needed. He carried on his struggle, and today, SIPA PRESS, the agency he founded, enjoys an international reputation. Gökşin’s photos have a permanent place in history.
Jean Bertolino is a senior reporter and writer, winner of the Albert Londres Prize in 1967. Alongside Gökşin Sipahioğlu he followed the events of 1968, which later became a book (Les Trublions).
Mai 68 vu par Gökşin Sipahioğlu
May 3 to 25, 2018
Galerie Basia Embiricos
14 rue des Jardins Saint Paul