Journey of Man in Turkish Photography'
Written by TR Editör

Poet, writer and photography artist Merih Akoğul wrote about the journey of man in photography from Ottoman to our day setting off from a photography exhibition in Istanbul curated by him. 

French Academy of Science globally announced the invention of photography in 1839, the year Period of Reforms began in the Ottoman. In a short period of time, travellers with tripods with attached cameras began travelling to different regions of the world, and brought the Orientalism of the Balkans and particularly Middle East to West through architecture, people and everyday life photography and shared with audiences the impressive living of ‘others’.

Shortly after these travellers arrived in Istanbul, photography studios on both sides of Pera, Istiklal Avenue today, were opened and the journey of man in photography began with mainly cabin (portrait) photography. With technological developments, camera made its way to outdoors and slices of everyday life were documented with the historic fabric of the period.

Human Attracts Human exhibition is designed cohesively in order to summarize the journey of man in Turkish photography from Othmar Pferschy to date with different intervals and various approaches. Istanbul Modern Photography Collection has been enriched with new purchases forming the backbone of this exhibition.

The exhibition features a collection comprised of select works by 80 photographers from Turkey taken throughout a period of 80 years beginning with Othmar Pferschy photography. Discovered by Vedat Nedim Tör then the head of General Directorate of Press for introduction of Turkey as a Young Republic and the only photographer candidate with his immaculate works, Othmar Pferschy also set an example for the successive photographers by documenting developing Turkey with a delicate sensitivity and within the discipline of novel architecture. His photographs were featured in guide books, magazines, fair posters, and printed on money and stamps. The first high-quality visuals in the history of the Republic, established the new face of Turkey with a functional aesthetic.

By following this approach also in the following periods, prominent masters of Turkish photography firstly documented the cities they lived in and then the historical, archaeological and architectural elements in Anatolia. As 60s turned to 70s, in parallel with progress of tourism and advertisement sectors, photography began serving to the period. Especially the photographs featured on calendars and postcards, constituted the photographic vision of the country. The inevitable circulation of photography began as photographs in this media entered daily life.

Later, individuals purchased cameras and mainly photographed family lives, landscapes and daily life in their own environments. Amateur photography became popular. Professional and artistic photography developed to form their own disciplines. Particularly in the 70s, there were certain achievements as art of photography employed technology. With the digital revolution in the 90s, photography as we know it today emerged.

As the works in the exhibition Man Attracts Man manifest, the intimate relationship between the photographer and his object and its outcomes are vital. Distance, a theme that can be observed in photographies of many countries and particularly in European photography, evolves into intimacy towards East. Even the people in the photographs do not object to and accept cameras’ existence and even pose for photos.

Naturally we cannot limit people photography to street photography and social-documentary photography concepts. Today, experimental examples of portrait photography in different contexts or post-productions created in environments as studio can be discussed. Number of successful photography examples with surreal influences achieved through digital interventions and rich expressions increase each day.

This exhibition featuring works selected from Istanbul Modern photography collection with each dealing with the theme man, can be visited until December 18th. Exhibition titled Man Attracts Man offers a large spectrum of works from impressionist and expressionist, documentary and art photography either with Anatolia as the background or modern portraits produced by employing advanced technological means by photographers who work in different fields of photography.

Exhibition Man Attracts Man provides us with a good opportunity to once more witness the journey of man in photography.

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