In a recent interview with world famous Turkish photographer Ara Güler in Today’s Zaman (Nov 14, 2014) he said,
“The Istanbul that I lived in wasn’t Istanbul. Actually, I didn’t see Istanbul either. Istanbul was already over. And Pera is over, too. When the Russian invasion happened in 1917, the White Russians came here, that Asmalı Mescit was set up, there was a Bohemian life there and everyone headed there … When I look at the area today all I see is a pastane (patisserie) called Limon. People deplete themselves over time and that’s why we see the death of Istanbul. We are walking over a dead Istanbul and that’s almost how it’s going to smell … the stench of Istanbul’s filth has started to waft its way to us.”
Like many residents of Istanbul, Güler suffers from hüzün, the melancholy longing for a nostalgic past that never existed. Unlike most, he is aware of this and knows that his photographs capture an Istanbul that only exists in dreams. With the rapid rate of development underway now, the Istanbul many people love is under threat, and one day all that might be left are photographic simulations of a long lost reality.
The following photos were taken by my husband Kim Hewett. They represent some memories of my Istanbul, which even now is already different from the way it is shown here.
Toilets in Gülhane Park, 2001. The seated men are reading newspapers while waiting for their wives. Inside the ladies toilets there was a sofa, first aid stretcher, iron and ironing board. The interior was beautifully decorated with live palms and hand made rugs.
Hagia Sophia Museum captured on a sunny winter’s day in 2000. Like all these photos it was taken by my husband Kim Hewett, using a 35mm SLR analog camera. None of these pictures has been enhanced in anyway.