Ron Amato’s Photographs of a 600-Year-Old Tradition Get a Retrospective

Twenty years after one of the more memorable trips of his life, professor of Photography Ron Amato relived the experience with a retrospective in Out Traveler.

“Turkish Oil Wrestling: Male Bonding at the Kirkpinar Festival” takes a look at a 600-year-old tradition held every summer in the mountains of Western Turkey. Amato first traveled to the festival on assignment for Men’s Health in the summer of 2001.

“It was euphoric,” Amato recalls. “I spent a dizzying three days on the field with the wrestlers in the blazing sun.” It was the first time Amato had seen this part of the world, and, with his fellow traveler and writer Aydin Bengisu making arrangements for the trip, Amato could give himself up to the experience of creating art: “I had total freedom to make the photographs I wanted.”

Four male torsos standing in lineWhile Amato exhibited the works at the Barbara Ann Levy Gallery on Fire Island and at the LGBT Community Center in New York, they have never been widely published. (Amato had a book in the works, but the deal fell apart soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City.)

With Out Traveler’s retrospective, for which Bengisu wrote the text, this journey finally received a chance to reach a wider audience.

“I am very happy and gratified these images got another life,” Amato says.

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