Köprüaltı

Curated by James Wellford

Featuring Emine Gozde Sevim & Jake Price



In the summer of 2013, two photographers, Jake Price and Emine Gozde Sevim, independently from each other found themselves in the same place: Gezi Park in Istanbul and its vicinity during the 18 days of protests that shook prime minister Erdogan’s eleven year old regime as never seen before. More than purely focusing on what took place in the streets between the protestors and the police forces, both photographers saw this period as an outburst of deeper notions embedded within, eventually expressed in the form of a protest. They both approached this historic moment brought about by the protestors as a manifestation not only about a Park, but as a symbol in which the people of Turkey ventured to protect their existence in contemporary Turkish society. For Photoville 2014, under the curatorial lead of James Wellford, Price and Sevim will recreate their shared experience as an installation entitled “Köpruüaltı (“Under the Bridge” in English)”.

“Köpruüaltı” is chosen from a Turkish cultural idiom about the abandoned hang-out places of those who fall on the margins of the mainstream society, incorporating wordplay in line with Erdogan’s description of Gezi protestors as looters. In the current authoritarian atmosphere of Turkey, thousands of Turkish citizens now feel marginalized because of the restrictions on their personal choices imposed upon them by the ruling party who deem their lifestyle immoral whether it’s consumption of alcohol, sexual orientation, living out of wedlock, or the way a person dresses.

A year since the initial protests people never thought they’d find their role in society so diminished: doctors (many of whom were threatened with arrest for caring for the injured at Gezi), lawyers (who have been arrested for supporting the Gezi movement in June 2013) and architects who find the government’s construction plans unlawful and irreversibly destructive for the city.

Since 2007, Sevim embarked on creating an “alternative” Middle-Eastern visual narrative in the context of post-9/11 era. Her maternal family had left Kabul, Afghanistan in 1975, where Sevim returned to visit with her Afghan grandfather in 2007, following the U.S. invasion. Since then, she has worked in Palestine, Turkey and Egypt creating a comprehensive project about “lives-in-passing” in contested geographies. In an attempt to expand beyond the religio-political descriptions of life in the region, Sevim’s visual narrative deals with existentialist complexities of provincial daily realities in the context of current historical transitions.

Her on-going body of work about the Middle East has been recognized by various international venues, including Camera Club of New York (2013) and Prix de la Photographie in Paris (2013), among others. Her first book project on Egypt was shortlisted for MACK’s First Book Award in London and added to the Collection of the National Media Museum in Bradford
(2014).

Sevim currently divides her time between New York and the Middle East.

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Jake has worked as a freelance producer for the BBC for over 15 years producing multi-media pieces for BBC In Pictures. Along with James Wellford, senior International Photo editor at Newsweek he founded SeenUnseen which promotes in-depth stories that the mainstream media overlooks.

World Press Photo awarded Jake an honorable mention for his immersive web documentary, Unknown Spring.

His transmedia and photography appears in The New York Times, TIME, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Orion Magazine, Newsweek, Le Monde II and others throughout the world.