Ahmet Polat

The Planes are Flying Low Above Our Bodies

“The Planes are Flying Low Above Our Bodies” are words written by Çağlar Köseoğlu (Belgium), published in his book called 34. The number 34 refers to the number of people that died during the coup d’état in 2016. I was in a plane that took of just before the coup started. I had the early flight to Amsterdam so I only realised what was happening in Istanbul after I landed. I immediately called my brother who was still in Istanbul to see how he was doing. He told me he was still walking the streets, even though there was a curfew at that moment. “I mean, life goes on, whatever happens”, he said.

This short conversation with my brother sums up how we have all become accustomed to the day-to-day life in Istanbul. We see what is happening, on the news and on the streets, but we can’t be bothered. Life just goes on and things have to get done. Somehow this seems the only way to survive . By creating your own bubble and focussing on only those things that keep you going these artists have found a way to retain their personal view and voice. Some may say they get their strength and sanity from making the work. Within the current climate it’s our duty to find ways to sustain and support those voices whenever and wherever we can.

Planes are Flying Low Above Our Bodies

Ahmet Polat

Ahmet Polat lived and worked in Istanbul for more than 10 years during which he created several exhibitions like Kemal’s Dream, which shows the youth throughout Turkey before the Gezi-park demonstrations in 2013.

Polat won several international prizes and grants like the ICP Infinity Award. A Mondriaan stipendium for established artist in 2015 and he also earned the Dutch title of laureate photographer of the nation. Besides his photography he collaborators with theatre makers, produces film projects and curated several exhibitions.

Kemal’s Dream

In Kemal’s Dream, Polat focuses on young people in present-day Turkey. Since the establishment of the republic by Kemal Atatürk in 1923, Turkey has been marked by a dualism that is often reduced to a struggle between East and West. For many young people, this produces an inner conflict that typifies the entire republic of Turkey. Between the years 2006 – 2012, Polat travelled from Istanbul to the Black Sea, from Southeast of Turkey to the Aegean region to visit, interview and photograph that dualism in Kemal Atatürk’s republic

Alp Sime

Alp Sime completed his college education at Boston University School of Fine Arts in 1996. In 2002 he opened his first solo exhibition titled “ Ramora”.

Known for his interest in the power of the subconscious and his sense of dark humor the artist sums up his work in the following quote from an interview: “Once a story conquers a personality it often clashes with what is real and the consequences are commonly tragicomic. This work on the whole is an attempt to translate this notion into visual form.

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt

We are in a total mess. I believe the cause might be our obsession with stories, as they affect our lives individually and collectively. The ancient idea of a “Hero” mutated into something we no longer think of as unreachable. The following quote is taken from the book titled “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” by Adam Smith in 1759.

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain- glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.”

Cemre Yesil

Cemre is a Turkish photographer living in Istanbul who also works as a writer and curator. Her BA is in photography and she holds an MA in visual arts from Sabanci University. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally.

British Journal of Photography – Ones to Watch issue (February 2015) introduced her amongst the 25 most promising new talents in global survey of emerging photographers with the work ‘For Birds’ Sake’. A selection from her A‘ n/ other’ series is in Istanbul Modern Museum’s photography collection.

She was nominated for the Paul Huf Award 2014 of Amsterdam Photography Museum FOAM, for ING Unseen Talent Award 2016 and for Lead Awards 2016.

Apart from her personal projects, she lectures on photography at Falmouth University, Istanbul Bilgi University and Koç University. Recent publications include ‘Kesik / Cut’ (2010), ‘We have not lived through such a thing.’ (2012), ‘This was’ (2013), ‘OCC Retrospective’ (2014 – Orta Format Magazine), ‘The House We Used to Call Home’ (2014), For Birds’ Sake (in collaboration with Maria Sturm, (2016 – La Fabrica) which was shortlisted for Prix du Livre d’Auteur – Les Rencontres d’Arles 2016, Pietra (2016), Becoming Cure as Care (2018).

Milk Tooth

Milk Tooth speaks about a shrouded relationship in between mother and child. It is inspired by a photographic tradition titled “hidden mother” which photographically manifests the physical need for the mother while visually absenting her within a double portrait. In 19th century mothers had to disguise themselves as curtains, couches, chairs, or even as absence itself throughout the exposure time to prevent the motion blur of the moving baby. However, the mothers were not absent from these portraits; on the contrary, the hidden mother photographs makes us find the mothers in an even deeper place, hiding in darkness.

In Milk Tooth the concept of the “hidden mother” is used as a methodological framework within the investigation of what photographic double portraiture can be beyond having two people in a shared photographic frame. Milk Tooth is about recontextualising the “hidden mother” from a person who functions as a head-rest (an equipment they used in a photographic studio back then) into a mother for whom even her adult child feels an emotional need. While using the gesture of embracing and doubling as a photographic methodology, this work aims to create a new relation to maternal loss, to the unimaginable time and condition of losing a mother. By exploring the photographic double portraiture both as an understanding of handling a future loss, this study investigates how the material photographic double-portrait both holds and extends the spatial coexistence of the embracing pair in order to redefine photographic double portraiture beyond the photographic presence of two sitters. Psychoanalytic frameworks are brought into play as a methodology for reconceiving loss in relation to the maternal and the photographic as a maternalised space.

The work speaks about the collapse of conventional roles of the mother and the child. The photographic absence in hidden mother is explored as the emotional absence of the mother as an actual, physical and emotional supporter for a grown-up child.

Pursuing how the mother can be photographically present as an absent body helps us find the mother— as if an attempt to convince ourselves that we will still be all right when the mother will be physically absent one day.

Korhan Karaoysal

Born in Istanbul. Studied Economy in Uludag University, and MA in Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design in Sabanci University. Working as a commercial and advertising photographer, also teaching studio and lighting classes in Bahcesehir University as a part time lecturer.

Reason Purpose

Ceremonies, celebrations and gatherings from Western Turkey 2006-2015

Korhan Karaoysal’s frst book Reason Purpose, is produced in BookLab 2015 in İstanbul with editor Frederic Lezmi and designer Okay Karadayılar. It is awarded the frst prize in FUAM Dummy Award 2016 in Istanbul PhotoBook Festival.


Today, Çetin earns his living as an artist, a photographer, a consultant on photography and photographic technology and as a lecturer, currently teaching at Bahçeşehir Uni. Dept. Of Photography and Video.

His personal works, essays, and critiques are published in various printed periodicals as well as e-zines.

Cafe Mandala (2015)

The series “Cafe Mandala” depicts bottoms of mugs with dried leftover coffee.

Each circular bottom presents the viewer a different and unique pattern created by several parameters working simultaneously such as coffee and sugar or sweetener concentration, cup size, amount of liquid left and drying speed. In this sense, each image resembles a planetary formation, a complete micro-cosmos whose fate is dependent on the above-mentioned ingredients.

On the other hand, leftover coffee cup bottoms rich in visual associations by their nature (like the famous Rorschach ink-blo personality test cards) have been used in Turkey for ages as a medium for fortune telling, just like any other random formation such as dripping molten lead into a bowl of water or picking cards from a shuffled deck.

Turkish coffee cup fortune telling is probably the most popular form of social clairvoyance in my country, a land of some 80 million people who are constantly wondering what is going to happen next, especially under a very unstable economy, where imported goods such as coffee are getting harder to buy every day whereas coffee being the number one export product for Ethiopia, the series Cafe Mandala ironically marks the interdependent fates of the two countries, Turkey and Ethiopia.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.