Pera Museum invites visitors to a photography trip through West to East, starting from the Cyclades and ending in Mount Sinai. Inspired by the first photography trip that took place in 1839, “A Road Story: 180 Years of Photography” exhibition brings together interpretations and perspectives of photographers who explore the same route with today’s techniques. Curated by Engin Özendes, the exhibition is on view between 5 December 2019 – 1 March 2020.
Pera Museum presents “A Road Story: 180 Years of Photography”, a unique successor of its various photography themed exhibitions ranging from photojournalism to photo art. Curated by Engin Özendes, the exhibition marks the 180th year of the very first known group photography trip that took place in 1839 and brings together interpretations and perspectives of photographers who explore the same route with today’s techniques. Curator Özendes says “While planning this visual trip, we had never thought that taking photographs in certain locations could be more difficult today than 180 years ago, given today’s superior means of transportation and communication.” and adds “This great project took two and a half years to complete and turned into a true road story from the first to the last traveler.”
This “road story” features photographers Coşkun Aral, Laleper Aytek, Ali Borovalı, Murat Germen, Sinan Koçaslan, Yusuf Sevinçli, Alp Sime, Lale Tara, Serkan Taycan, and Cem Turgay. Curator Özendes interprets the productions of the artists with these words:
“Serkan Taycan took photographs of Marseille, Livorno, Malta, and Rome, employing a critical and contemporary approach in his photography. Laleper Aytek went to the island of Syros to take urban photographs that echoed an internal journey, in search of unrelated details and moments of people, places, and situations. Ali Borovalı photographed Paros, Naxos, and Santorini with his simple yet realistic artistic style, as exhibited in his journalistic photography series on nature and local culture. Murat Germen used photography as a means for expression and study; instead of conveying directly what he saw, he attempted to create an image by combining it with his artistic interpretation in Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, and Suez as always. Knowing the Middle East and its constant turmoil, Coşkun Aral took photojournalistic photographs of Mount Sinai, Gaza, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nablus, Saida, Deir Al Qamar, Damascus, and Tripoli. Sinan Koçaslan used a modern approach to photograph life in Baalbek and Beirut. Yusuf Sevinçli took photographs in Larnaca and Rhodes, depicting quotidian experiences, interactions, and the environment. Lale Tara went to Kos and took photographs on the island like a visual storyteller and an experimental player, creating a different atmosphere for her story by preparing for her shoots like one would create a movie set, complete with costumes, location scouting, and lighting. Cem Turgay employed his experimental style to photograph Izmir, based on pastel-colored lights, hazy shadows, and critical details. Alp Sime photographed daily life in Çanakkale and Istanbul, using a modern language and an aesthetical and powerful expression in his realistic black and whites.”
Those interested in photography all recognize 1839 as a year of special importance. The invention of photography was announced on August 19, 1839, and October 21, 1839, marks the beginning of the first journey of photography. French painter Émile Jean Horace Vernet, painter Charles Marie Bouton who is among the inventors of Diorama technique, and daguerreotypist Frédéric Auguste Antoine Goupil-Fesquet depart from the Port of Marseille in October 1839 to take photographs and return to Marseille six months later, in April 1840 passing from Livorno, Malta, Syros, Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, Suez, Mount Sinai, Gaza, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nablus, Sayda, Deir Al Qamar, Damascus, Tripoli, Baalbek, Beirut, Larnaca, Rhodes, Kos, Izmir, Dardanelles, Istanbul and Rome. Frédéric Auguste Antoine Goupil-Fesquet conveyed his impressions about this journey in his book, Voyage d’Horace Vernet en Orient that would be published in 1843.