I began to develop my project almost five years ago (around 2014) with an instinct for documenting the new visual reality of Turkey by way of local urban exploration with photography. Over time the project has expanded and included three major cities of Turkey: İstanbul, İzmir and Eskişehir. My question concerns the common ground that makes these 3 cities of different lifestyles, climatic conditions, and economic realities still appear to be connected when it comes to their visual appearances.
I used a digital camera to archive all of this information of similarities to find a possibility of the new classification for a potential future.
When I went deeper into the subject, I realized that what was in evidence was not a local issue. The building and infrastructure endeavors that are based on neo-liberal politics could be observed in many countries all over the world, during the first decade of the 21st century. An IMF-led restructuring of Third World economies that began in the 1980s was increased to an urban construction boom at the start of the 21st century. (Davis, 2006: 11) What was happening all across the globe also took place in Turkey, transforming cities at a never seen before scale.
According to Mike Davis, the cities of the future, rather than being made out of glass and steel as envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement blocks, and scrap wood. (Davis, 2006: 19) I was trying to build up that kind of perspective, which is related to the urban majority on that project. This approach closely corresponds to the premise in which I developed my project. In other words, based upon what I observe in my own immediate urban environment it comes closer to a future that will be mostly built out of second-grade material. In this sense I diverge from Davis’s observations that mostly center on research conducted in the continent of Africa: What I see here in Turkey is not so much an urban development that comes out of rejected or refuse material but rather one that manifests itself through an architectural mediocrity, second-rateness, and uniformity. I looked into the negative side of the city to slowly document the growth of, what on the one hand was a devastation that came out of the wanton destruction of the old, and on the other hand, the mediocrity that replaced it.
While we are looking at the shiny skyscrapers which certainly cannot be ignored as part of the urban renewal that Turkish cities are undergoing; right next to them, there is a second type of renewal, the one that I described above as one of mediocrity, second-rateness, and uniformity that is quickly spreading beyond its designated areas into the domain of the skyscrapers themselves.
To take pictures of these in-between spaces was, of course, a conscious decision. However, looking back at the bulk of photographs that I took it also appears that I seem to have made a semi-conscious decision to shoot scenes that were absent of people, in order to expose the similarities of these places in an exaggerated form that would become more obvious through its lack of human bodies.
© BURAK DİKİLİTAŞ — 2023