Images of İstanbul's periphery through the lens of NarPhotos

A photo taken in Başıbüyük, a neighborhood in İstanbul’s Maltepe district, is part of the exhibition “Milyonluk Manzara” by the collective NarPhotos, on display until July 30 at the Depo art center in İstanbul.

A new photography exhibition documenting urban social life over the last two years in the periphery districts of İstanbul is currently on view at Depo cultural center in the Tophane neighborhood.
Titled “Milyonluk Manzara” (Million Dollar View), the show presents the works of six photographers -- Serra Akcan, Eren Aytuğ, Mehmet Kaçmaz, Tolga Sezgin, Saner Şen and Kerem Uzel -- who are also members of the NarPhotos collective.
Prior to the opening reception last Friday, one of the photographers, Kaçmaz, who was also a victim of police brutality while photographing the Gezi protests in Taksim two weeks ago, gave a talk on the project with Ezgi Bakçay from Mimar Sinan University's sociology department.
During the talk, Kaçmaz explained that although the members of the collective have been living in İstanbul for the last 20 years, they realized that their photo archive did not have “real” photos of İstanbul -- other than the city's landmarks, such as the Blue Mosque, Golden Horn or the Bosporus.
“This project enabled us to go from the center of the city to other centers, in which the majority of the İstanbulites actually live. In centers such as Taksim or Eminönü only a very small minority actually lives, but millions of people pass by these places every day. Most of the people in İstanbul are flowing from its periphery to the center,” Kaçmaz said, adding that the whole project stemmed from a challenging question of “What constitutes a real image of İstanbul?” which goes beyond the stereotypical photos in hand.
“On the other hand, we were also aware that in the last 10 years, and specifically in the last three to four years, extraordinary things have been happening in İstanbul. The city is facing a tremendous transformation. We were questioning whether this fast transformation also might be affecting us in such a way that we cannot really see what is going on in the city,” Kaçmaz went on to explain.
“We all know that there are a lot of bus routes in İstanbul but they are only a piece of information for us most of the time. For instance, Eminönü-Ateştuğla or Kadıköy-Başıbüyük. We know Eminönü, but where is Ateştuğla? What kind of an architectural feeling does [that neighborhood] have? Who lives there? Who goes there and why? Or who doesn't go there and why?” he said, noting that these kinds of questions led them to come up with the series on display.
The group's plan was to spend a day in a suburb of the city, get lost there for a day and try to understand what it felt like to be there. “While the people in the center were being forced to move from their neighborhoods toward the outskirts of the city -- such as in the case of Sulukule -- we as the people still living in the city center don't see what kind of life goes on in the new centers further out. The people who were sent away from Sulukule found themselves in Taşoluk, or the ones sent from Ayazma found themselves in Bezirganbahçe. We all know what happened in Sulukule, how dozers came and destroyed the neighborhood, and how people were told to go away; however, we did not know what kind of a new lifestyle was being offered to them in the places they went to,” Kaçmaz said. “The series reflects the state of mind of these new neighborhoods rather than depicting them as they are.”
A book titled “Milyonluk Manzara: Kentsel Dönüşümün Resimleri” (Million Dollar View: Urban Transformation Pictures) also accompanies the exhibition. Published in Turkish, the book features the photographs in the show and texts by prominent names such as Cihan Aktaş, Hakan Bıçakçı, Tanıl Bora, Gaye Boralıoğlu, Haydar Ergülen, Alev Erkilet, Pınar Öğünç, Jean-François Pérouse, Özcan Yurdalan and Turgut Yüksel.
NarPhotos is a collective founded in 2003 that aims to understand the social sphere through documentary photography. The members hold exhibitions and release books about their documentary projects and also work for international magazines, newspapers and agencies.
“For us, rather than the outcome, the process, the story of producing the outcome altogether is much more important. This is why we believe in collectivity,” says Kaçmaz about NarPhotos. The collective currently has 16 members, most of whom live in İstanbul and some of them are located in Diyarbakır.
The exhibition “Milyonluk Manzara” will run until July 30 at Depo in İstanbul's Tophane neighborhood. For more information, visit

A beekeeper looks at a new satellite city in the Maltepe district on İstanbul’s Asian side. 

A view of the Marmara Sea from the Menekşe Beach in İstanbul’s Küçükçekmece district. 

A photo taken in 2012 during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Sultanbeyli, one of İstanbul’s suburbs.

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