TWO CITIES – A Juxtapositional Archive

               2018 – Domtoren – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Uskudar Mosque – 2007


a photo-essay of two cities

I am a scenographer, I work on space and everything in it…
and I am a photographer, I work on images and everything in them…
now and then, I look at different spaces and see similar images.

In first glance, there is not much thing to compare these two cities on the two ends of Europe. And yet, I lived in one of them more than 30 years, and moved to the other 3 years ago. Therefore, it is inevitable for me to juxtapose them.

Size-wise, they are incomparable.

Istanbul is bigger than Gelderland area and its population is close to the population of the whole Netherlands. Utrecht City, on the other hand, has a population less than half a million, spread on an area as big as two times Kadiköy -the town I grew up.

          2016 – Lunetten – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Beyoglu-Sisli – 2012

History-wise, they are interestingly bearing some unobtrusive resemblance to each other.

Both have a destiny strongly connected to the waterways. The river Rijn (today’s Kromme Rijn and Oudegracht) was a trajectory for Roman Empire to stop advancing to north, around 50 A.D. After this historical decision, the Roman Emperor Claudius named this area as Trajectum ad Rhenum. Later the name Latinized as Ultra Trajectum, and later turned to Dutch as U-trecht. In 330 A.D., another Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, decided to change the eastern capital to Byzantium, a city established on the peninsula between the Istanbul Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Marmara Sea (today’s Sarayburnu). The city named after him and became Constantinopolis (The city of Constantine), remained that way until the establishment of Turkish Republic in 1923 and then changed to Istanbul.

If we go even backwards, the earliest inhabitation in the region of Utrecht dates back to Stone Age, around 2200 B.C., while Istanbul had humans dwelling on it since 6700 B.C.

Wikipedia Utrecht Istanbul

2019 – Oudegracht – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Sarayburnu – 2008

This juxtapositional archive presents a small portion of my personal experience and perspective of two cities in last 33 years.

For example, HKU (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht), where I studied the MA Scenography programme, has a building in Janskerkhof (Court of the church of Jan). And this courtyard is very similar to the courtyard of the Beşiktaş Ferry Station, where I was passing by often, when I was studying in Mimar Sinan University BA Décor and Costume design programme in 1998.

2017 – Janskerkhof – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Beşiktaş – 1998       

I studied and later worked in European side, and lived in Asian side of Istanbul. Therefore, I travelled “between two continents” in daily basis for more than half of my life. There are mainly two ways to do it: crossing the water or crossing the bridge. I must assure you; it is very different from cycling through the canals and small bridges to go home in Utrecht. Actually, going to Amsterdam from Utrecht is kind of easier than going to Taksim from Kadiköy, but has a similar feeling in many ways.

    2016 – Lunetten – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Bosphorus – 2014

   2017 – Central Station – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Bosphorus Ferry – 2010

Collecting vs Archiving

I decided to bring this archive together and write a photo-essay of two cities to make my peace with Istanbul, the city I left. Also, to make Utrecht more like a home where I belong. I am not sure, what makes a city what it is and what makes it home. Nevertheless, I continue to observe and photograph them with a hope to find out one day.

   2017 – Central Station – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Bosphorus Ferry – 2012

In both cities, unsurprisingly, there are all sorts of people, all sorts of cultures from everywhere in the world, residing next to each other. But apart from the cities (if such thing is possible), there is the water, there are the trees (definitely less in Istanbul), and there is the sky, which we have very little control on. They catch my eye more often than everything else. And they remind me that the life on the planet goes on with or without me; wherever I am, whatever I am doing. I cannot do so much, other than watching them, admiring them and trying to learn some wisdom from them.

Photo-essay of Two Cities
August, 2019

     2016 – Zuidwest – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Taksim Gezi – 2008

    2017 – Overvecht – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Taksim Gezi – 2008

          2016 – Wayen – UTRECHT  |  ISTANBUL – Sarayburnu – 2009

Photography Exhibition
16-23 May, 2019, De Nijverheid, Utrecht

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