Photography has the power to imbue its subject with importance. Simply choosing where to point the camera tacitly prompts the viewer to ask, "why this?" I have long used this facet of the medium to consider aspects of the built-landscape, and specifically the suburban residential we call home.
My current project examines the rapidly changing landscape of the far-flung, densely populated regions on the suburban fringes of large Turkish cities. Turkey epitomizes the meeting of East and West, Tradition and Modernity. Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, literally bridges the continents of Asia and Europe.
I was initially struck by the "Toplu Konut", developments of large scale "mass-residences". "Toplu", the title of the series, is a play on the dual meaning of "mass" and "tidy and neat". In the photographs, many are still under construction – sprouting in barren fields at a startling pace. Others are tidy high-rise condominium clusters that are self-contained with their own restaurants, schools, shops, swimming pools, tennis courts, and playgrounds. Within their walls they are meticulously landscaped and manicured. Many are gated, restricting access to residents and those who serve them.
These modern, hyper-planned, enclosed developments are erected on large plots of inexpensive land. Often, this land has already been settled by people who've migrated to the cities' edges from rural villages. Here, they have built "gecekondu", homes constructed without permits on public land. Turkish law makes these structures difficult to remove once they are in place. The term "gecekondu" literally means "built overnight", a reference to their quick, unplanned and stealthy construction. Some are nearly indistinguishable from other modest apartment buildings in the country, while others are ramshackle structures built from the detritus of the city. Many include subsistence farms, electricity and satellite television.
I am drawn to photograph the stark contrast at the interface of these two extremes. The juxtaposition is startling. These photographs don't depict the ancient palaces, mosques, and ruins of guidebooks. This is the everyday Turkey of a rising middle class, heavily influenced by Western Europe and the United States. This is also the Turkey of tradition, displaced migrants, shantytowns and gentrification. This is the site where they intersect.
born: 1973, Mt. Vernon, Illinois
Ohio University, MFA, 2002
Indiana University, BA, 1996
Creative Workforce Fellowship, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture, 2011
Individual Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council, 2011
Exposure: Journal of the Society for Photographic Education; Toplu: Landscapes of New Turkish Suburbia, text by Natasha Egan, 2012
Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels, 5th Ed.; Robert Hisch, p. 83, 2011
Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age; Robert Hirsch, p. 90, 2007
selected solo or two-person exhibits
Heights Arts; Andy Curlowe + Mark Slankard; Cleveland Heights, OH 2013
Lawrence Arts Center; Toplu: 2008-2011, Lawrence, KS, 2012
Isabella Cannon Gallery; Toplu: 2008-2010; Elon University, Elon, NC, 2011
Rebecca Ibel Gallery; Outskirts; Columbus, OH, 2010
selected group shows
Vanishing Points: Explorations in Architecture and Identity, Walker's Point Center for the Arts, Miwaukee, WI, 2012
Public Works, Museum of Contemporary Photography; Chicago, IL, 2011