Photography Museum Opens in Kadırga District of Fatih, Istanbul

Kadırga District of Fatih, Istanbul
Kadırga District of Fatih, Istanbul

“Turkey’s first photography museum” was opened in İstanbul on 16 November 2011,  with an exhibition dedicated to the “Masters of photography from the Republican era“, which followed the revolution of Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s.

The museum is the masterpiece of famous Turkish photographer Gültekin Cizgen and run by the Friends of Photography Association headed by his brother Seyhsüvar Çizgen. Gültekin Çizgen was quoted in an article that “you can see everything that is linked to photography” in the museum.

The Museum, not too far from the small Ayasofya Mosque in Fatih, also organises events, conferences and publications and in fact, the place was full of stuents while I was taking notes on the exhibition spread in five galleries. To mark the opening of the museum, two temporary exhibitions were set up alongside the permanent collection. “Photography today – 2011” displays the work of 200 artists from all generations of Turks and sections of society, including the most famous photographer in Turkey, Ara Güler, who has held many exhibitons of his own both in Turkey and abroad. This year Ara Güler is celebrating his 85th birthday.

There is a ‘’Timeline’’ which begins with 1839, the year when the first photograph was taken, which I was told took several hours. There are many photographs on the Timeline identified  year by year when they were taken. However, there is a gap between 1910 – 1920 which could have exhibited one of the most famous photographs of all time, ‘’Ataturk at Dardanelles’’, taken by a foreign photographer I believe. The years 1935 – 1940 has also been omitted where the photographs from Ataturk’s Funeral could have been included, some of the most beautiful and incredible photographs.

It is possible to delve into the origins of Turkish photography, the beginnings of which are associated with the shot of a solar eclipse taken with a “dark camera” by an Islamic academic, “Alhazen”. The subsequent pictures of the Ottoman Empire go from images of workshops and palaces to those of battlefields.

Photograpy is important in Turkey both for professionals and also for amateurs, in fact just about everybody takes photographs or enjoys them. Bursa hosted ‘’Bursa Fotofest 1. International Bursa Photography Festival’’ on October 15-23, 2011, which was also reported in the New York Times. Writer James Estrin wrote that with the participation of 100 photographers from 41 countries, Turkey will eventually become the meeting place of photography world.

Yüksel Oktay
12 December 2011