Infos utiles
16 rue Didot - 75014 Paris, France


Frances Dal Chele
2007 - Turkey

Turkey, an age-old culture in a country moving forward.
Whirlwind economic, social and urban transformations, spurred precisely by the perspective of joining the E.U, have been underway for several years now in this country-bridge.  What is their effect on cities and people ?  What does the face of contemporary Turkey look like, the Turkey behind the usual clichés and phantasms ?  
In order to explore the changes underway in this heir to a fallen empire, I deliberately chose three agglomerations far from Istanbul:  Kayseri and Konya (economic miracles in the Anatolian heartland), and Trabzon (an economically-plagued city facing the Black Sea).  I focused on the emblems of modernity:  “photocopy urbanism” replacing old, expropriated neighborhoods, the automobile’s ever-increasing invasion of public spaces, the network of roads, expressways, freeways, the creation of peripheral zones, an American-style luxury shopping center.
“The city is taking away my home and giving me a new apartment.  But I’ve never lived in an apartment building, next to people I don’t know.  I’m afraid of feeling like a prisoner.”  
The old woman confessing her disarray still lives in her neighborhood, which resembles a devastated area but is simply a neighborhood undergoing “renovation”.    
The people and the cities surrounding them are equally destabilized and searching for new reference points as Turkey races towards a globalized modernity.  Turkey is participating in a process of globalization also affecting other emerging countries, a process whose models for modernity are imported from Europe and the United States.  This current fragility of both the country and its people is the deep-seated reason connecting me to Turkey and motivating my desire to document contemporary Turkey.
The intentionally overexposed and shifted colors in my pictures echo the instability I perceive.  They introduce a certain distance from reality, a proposition to take a fresh look at Turkey.  This slightly “off-key” quality to the colors also suggests that our new, old neighbor is both familiar yet, paradoxically, little known.

Begun in June 2007, “Loukoum to Concrete” is planned as an on-going project over several years.


01 -  Konya, Hükümet Meydani, June 2007.  ‘Government Square’ is at the center of the historical town.  The bazar’s alleyways begin here.  Underneath the square is a shopping center entirely devoted to jewelers.  Construction work to improve its ventilation is visible topside.

02 - Kayseri, October 2008.  Kayseri’s flourishing economy is a magnet for rural exodus, and the population of this conservative city has doubled in 10 years, to reach around 2 million.  This freshly-materialized, lower class neighborhood is located in the Melikgazi area of Kayseri.  Far from the city center, near the light-industry zone “1. Organize”, the apartment buildings have no shops on the ground floor. This is extremely unusual in Turkey and the opposite of what can be found in the new, more affluent neighborhoods.

03 - Trabzon, Zafer Mahalle, December 2007.  “Victory District” lies at the center of this former cosmopolitan, Ottoman town and awaits its renovation, which in Turkey is often a synonym for destruction.  Its inhabitants will be relocated to Boztepe or sent to the outskirts of the city.

04 -  Trabzon, Zafer Mahalle, December 2007.  A part of “Victory District” has already been razed in order to implant the pylons for the expressway cutting through the heart of the old city.

05 - Kayseri, June 2007.  A scene in a traditional shopping street of Kayseri, a city at the heart of Anatolia.  The majority of Kayseri’s population is under 30-years old.  The young people consider these colorful façades and disparate streets impossibly old-fashioned.  They prefer ‘Kayseri Park’, a new, fashionable shopping center which opened in 2007, even if they can’t afford to buy there.

06 -  Kayseri, October 2008.  Inside ‘Kayseri Park’, the new focus for shopping, leisure and socializing in the islamo-capitalist city of Kayseri.  In this American-style mall, the prices are 30% to 40% higher than in the city shops. 
07 - Trabzon, December 2007.  Meydan Parki, the central square in one of the two historical centers of the Black Sea town.  Symbol of modernity:  the automobile’s ever-increasing invasion.

08 - Trabzon, December 2007.  In front of the Iskender Pasha mosque.  In cities where the density of traffic is steadily increasing, the only time that pedestrians are stronger than cars is when they overflow into the streets as praying figures.

09 - Trabzon, December 2007.  The expressway erected in the middle of the old urban tissue.

10 - Kayseri, October 2008.  The city, one of Turkey’s most dynamic, allowed housing to decay in the old neighborhoods, which became poor neighborhoods, in order to expropriate the owners and relocate them to the city’s periphery.  The old houses will be torn down and replaced by new apartment buildings aimed at the middle  and upper-middle classes.

11 - Saliha, Kayseri, June 2007.  Saliha is one of the last inhabitants of Kayseri’s former Armenian neighborhood.  “Our neighborhood is old and degraded but it’s prized because it’s central.  They’re going to build apartment buildings in place of our homes, but the apartments they give us in exchange are far from here.”

12 - Kayseri, June 2007.  An expropriated home in the former Armenian neighborhood.  The people expropriated receive a new apartment, but far from the city’s center, and far from their reference points as well as their network of family and friends.  “The city is taking my home away and giving me a new apartment with all the modern comforts.  But I don’t know… I’ve never lived in an apartment building, surrounded by people I don’t know.  I’m scared of feeling like a prisoner,” says one woman.

13 -  Kayseri, October 2008.  A bouquet of new and distant apartment buildings will be linked to Kayseri’s traditional center once the tramway (whose rails were built over a year ago) is put in service.

14 - Sana (Trabzon), December 2007.  “Photocopy urbanism” presides over the construction of townhomes in Sana, a small town in suburban Trabzon.  Part of Trabzon’s upper-middle class moves here to get away from the oppressive port city.

15 -  Kayseri, June 2007.  Children in the former Armenian neighborhood currently undergoing destruction/renovation.  “If Turkey joins the European Union, our children will have better education and health care.  They will have better lives than we do.”

16 - Kayseri, June 2007.  Behind Atatürk Boulevard, an improvised parking area encroaches upon a playground.

17 -  Konya, June 2007.  In Turkey’s new, residential areas, playgrounds are created before the apartment buildings are finished where their young users will live.  Konya’s population has practically increased three-fold in 15 years because of rural exodus.  As yet lacking trees and shrubs, the new neighborhoods bake under the Anatolian sun.

18 -  Kayseri, October 2008.  With the old urban tissue torn down and the new apartment buildings yet to be constructed, the old residential areas resemble devastated zones.  The poorest inhabitants are the last to be given new housing.

19 - Kayseri, October 2008.  “Street furniture” in an old neighborhood beyond Inönü Boulevard.

20 -  Kayseri, October 2008.  Designer street furniture, tended lawns, trees: this is the upscale neighborhood near Kayseri Park.