One City: Montreal, One Country: Cuba'
Written by TR Editör

Gallery Işık, a major Istanbul art centre of Feyziye Mektepleri Foundation that has hosted numerous exhibitions before, featured an exclusive exhibition in recent days.

Contributor: MERİH AKOĞUL

Gallery Işık brought together 30 photographs from two separate regions of the world by me, Merih Akoğul and İhya Bozkurt who made it their job to photograph cities. The exhibition featured photographs printed in large formats using C-Print and DiaSec techniques, and due to gallery’s striking architecture not only visitors but also thousands of people passing through Teşvikiye Street got the chance to see the exhibition.
Every city has its own story. Some cities are intimate, others are distant; some are warm, others are cold. One may be famous because of its mountains, the other because of the sea… Languages, traditions, behaviours differ; in some cities, the flow is rapid, in others slow. Life passes differently in every city. Next to those who have never left their home towns, there are also many who constantly visit other countries. Each way of life has a philosophy of its own.


Still people are curious about each other’s lives, and visit other countries and cities. Some visit other cities to see museums and exhibitions as part of culture tourism; some to make a sea holiday, a ski vacation, or a shopping trip. Sometimes they prefer to travel by road, sometimes by ship, and for remote destinations mostly by air. Sometimes the reason to be in another city is business, and sometimes it is simply fun.


However photographers build their world on how each city they visit and the life there is seen through the lens and how others feel when they see these photographs. Their greatest passion is to share these in slide shows, in exhibitions and to publish these in magazines and as books.


I, Merih Akoğul, turned my lens at subjects I carefully selected and moments I witnessed in Montreal city of Canada in August 2015 by remaining in the background, and quietly turned the flow of life into photographs featured in A Season in Montreal exhibition. I attempted to fit the sight of a city under summer lights into my frame through special moments. The star country of North America, Canada and its outstanding city Montreal is one of numbered cities of the world with its authentic architecture, intellectual life, and intense culture and arts events. At the same time, with the excellent education offered in famous high schools and colleges, it attracts students from all over the world.


Even though it is a French canton under Quebec, Montreal is a city of culture with a bilingual life with English. In this city, culture that preserves a balance between tradition and future, and encompasses a broad panorama, can easily be observed in Eskimo and Indian artworks and important works exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Arts. Attracting art enthusiasts with Jazz Festival and Film Festival, Montreal offers new worlds at short distances at Plateau, Old Port, China Town and Down Town, even if the winters are a bit long and cold.


İhya Bozkurt went to six Cuban cities in November and December of 2015, and transformed sections of daily life in Cuba into striking frames in A Lonely Island: Cuba exhibition. In this lonely island, he turned his lens to loneliness of individuals who create the vigorous traditional life rhythm of the country. He integrated his perspective into his photographs as an invisible layer, and sincerely shared Cuba’s unique aura with the audience through his photographic experience.


After death of Fidel Castro, the photographic images of Cuba which is about to turn a new page, will naturally change with its everyday life. Those who will travel to Cuba in the coming years will see the standards of living change as a result of Cuba’s changing relationship with the world, and that a new lifestyle arriving to this lonely island. Surely time will tell if it is good or bad. To attain some materials they have longed for, even temporarily, will make the people living in this island happy in short term.


With this exhibition which is also published in books, I believe that İhya Bozkurt and I have successfully brought together Cuba and Montreal located at both ends of the world, in the same venue. To be honest, we aimed to draw viewers into two different regions simultaneously. By way of this exhibition, we see once again how photographs make the world smaller, make what is near far, and how cities and countries become brothers and sisters in the magical background of Istanbul.


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