Scope and Purpose
bak.ma is a collective that aims to become the digital media archive of freedom struggles in Turkey and elsewhere. bak.ma archive’s online archive features video shots from social movements, protests, press conferences, as well as daily life beginning from the 1960s onwards and ranging from the Tekel resistance, to Gezi Park protests, from May 1 celebrations to January 19th gatherings, from March 8 marches to Gay Prides.
Standing out as the digital media archive of Turkey’s opposition movements, bak.ma also features videos of political movements from Melbourne to Hamburg, and from Belgrade to Athens since last year. Their content includes visual records of related sociopolitical movements and freedom struggles that have been carried out from the 1960s onwards. The website software categorizes these according to date, location, keyword and video titles.
bak.ma uses an open-source archive software pan.do/ra. Users can download archive data, upload new data or make online changes to the uploaded content. They can also submit subtitles, tags, texts and other information. They can make online edits on new videos by using existing data. Envisioning bak.ma as an anonymous space, the team uses designs and techniques that let every user download all the content of the archive to their computers in low resolution.
The creators of bak.ma believe that we should think about and use archives as mediators that have functions, and as spaces that help us communicate with each other and with these events. As such, they see archives as platforms that are not only about the past, but also the present and future. bak.ma is a space for new relations, inspirations and emotions that emerge out of encounters with these images. It is not only a conservation space that stores these recordings. The team says that bak.ma “can be defined as ‘the archive of life that has been involuntarily caught up on’ with reference to Dziga Vertov and Ulus Baker or ‘an archive of events’ with reference to Maurizzio Lazzarato. The first entails an archive of daily life, whereas the second is an archive of public events.” In addition to this, to differentiate their experience from traditional and institutional archiving practice or state archive mentality, its creators define bak.ma as a “counter-archive.” Their manifest on the issue can be seen on bak.ma.
Defining their practice as “autonomous archiving”, the team published a book that brought together articles and thought pieces on the issue in 2016. The English edition of the book can be accessed on the website of the dpr-barcelona publishing house. Autonomous archiving is defined as a multi-centered archiving practice that does not maintain a hierarchy of labor, but organizes and frees labor, and is carried out by a collective structure. Most importantly, it is an archive of heterogonous communities. These groups include migrants, workers, feminists, queers, trans activists, anti-war activists, actors of urban movements, members of minority groups, human rights defenders, etc.
 Tekel workers, who would lose their jobs with the closing of Tekel factories, departed from several cities to march to Ankara on December 15, 2009. They protested for 78 days.
 Protests that started against the government’s plans to construct Military Barracks at the Gezi Park in Istanbul during the summer of 2013 spread to other cities later on.
 Hrant Dink was shot to death in front of the former offices of Agos on January 19, 2007