Agnes Szedera | Turkey’s revival – Suleymaniye – The Dust District

Turkey has faced demanding times, topped by the government’s brutal response to mass protests in June of last year. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, the opposition which claimed five lives amounted to «human-rights violation on a huge scale». The rapid escalation of protests against the conservative government has exposed a number of long-dormant fault lines on the country’s complex political landscapes.
On September 30th, a blend of legislative and administrative reforms was unveiled by the Conservative Prime Minister, Racep T. Erdogan. The reform package may be an important step recently taken by the government.
The socio-economic advances bring with it novelties that inevitably unsettle traditions and conservative mores. It might be a step in the right direction, followed by increase in middle class prosperity opening new horizons for the next generation.

In the middle of Istanbul’s Old City, plastered to the Great Suleymaniye Mosque, there lies an old Ottoman district. Suleymaniye was once inhabited by wealthy people, now turned into slums. Squalid, and wretched-aged stoned houses elicited a fearful feeling – houses that seem to fall by the slightest jolt. A trace of prisoners’ abandoned hope scratched on the walls as proof of their undeniable existence.
Nowadays squatters live in an impermanent symbiosis with the raw nature. People who seem to claim an unpredictable future by the sweat of their brow and willpower. Life in Suleymaniye is ruled by simple needs. Dreams of affluence limited to a dwelling place with only a shower and a toilet. Will the wheel of fortune turn again?

Fate is following its direction as time passes by. Haunted-homes are being tamed. Kites and bicycles rule the dirt roads, as fathers and mothers start to hold their heads high. Suleymaniye is being cleaned from the dust of its own past. Homeland and international initiatives are growing, disorganising the reigning silence of inertia. The old proven demography of this historical district has a chance to be restored, as rich and poor find their existence side by side in a reflection of the past. Standing over an endless, indefinable hollow viewing restlessness, the clouds move towards me. Slowly, the sun vanishes behind the horizon. Frozen thrills tremble through my body, whilst a shadow lays its paw on the half-emptied buildings. Here and there sparse lighting emerges against a backdrop of dimmed voices. The guiltless gull appeared crossing the sky with a loud squeak – reigning supremacy over foreboding and despair.

The beguiled youth capable of focusing past an old wreck of dismal heritage hiding its worrisome inwardness behind black barriers. The new generation – an emancipated society, with liberal religious restrictions and a wider access to education in the mother tongue. There are glimmers of hope for the dust district. Sweeping circles, the gull ascends towards a new future– a new Suleymaniye – a new Turkey.

Q&A with Agnes Szedera

Photography is…

Photography is my secret language. It’s a mystical medium which alouds me to catch and depict emotions. It illustrates my characters through my subjective perception, although it’s not intimate. I like to share my world with others.

Photography and writing…

Supplement each other. But I don’t find it necessary to rely on both together all the time. 

Who left the biggest impression on you?

People I’ve talked to at work, and I’m psychiatrist, has modified my views on the world and others. The changes are usually subtle.  Although we’re strange to each other, our relation is deeper per definition. I think I’ve become infected with this. 
There are photographers who appeal to me and from whom I learn a lot, as well. One of them is Maciek Nabrdalik, my supervisor. 

Agnes-SzederaAgnes Szedera is born in Poland. She lives and works in Norway. She is a passionate photojournalist focused on worldwide current socio-cultural issues. Her acclaimed photography has recently won a photographic competition in Norway. One of the presented photographs in this article was a finalist in the National Geographic Photo Contest, Polish edition. Ms Szedera works on her projects under the supervision of VII Photo Agency photographer – Maciek Nabrdalik.

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