It is a sad coincidence that you can see hundreds of Ukrainian refugees arriving at Berlin central station every day fleeing from the terrible war on their homeland while at the same time I am about to finish my project dealing with Turkish families who were forced to flee from Turkey after the attempted coup d’état in 2016. The fate and personal experience of somebody leaving his/her country is a very personal story, but at the same time part of a long history of migration and refuge over centuries. It seems to be an inseparable part of human history and especially of European history.
For the last 2 years I have been visting several Turkish refugee families all over Germany. The idea came to me because of a colleague and friend whom I met when I started learning Turkish about 15 years ago. He was a civil servant at a Turkish ministry and spend several months in Germany to learn German. We formed a language tandem and have stayed in touch ever since.
After the attempted coup in 2016 I lost contact and was happily surprised when I learnt that he had fled to Germany. When I visited him in the town he was assigned to as political refugee, the idea of telling his and other refugees' stories in a visual project began to take shape.
The title of my project is “Fluchtpunkte” which in German has a twofold meaning. It refers to points of refuge, a place where refugees find shelter and a place to stay. In my project this refers to the latest wave of Turkish families who came to Germany after 2016 because they belonged to hundreds of thousands of people who were accused of having been involved in an attempt to overthrow the government. Many of them were working in public administration, as lawyers, teachers, scientists etc. In the best case they lost their jobs, in worse cases they were prosecuted, imprisoned and condemned to long sentences in jail. Many of them hid in Turkey or tried to leave the country any way possible. Many came to Germany and were recognised as political refugees according to the Geneva Refugee Convention.
The second meaning of “Fluchtpunkte” is “vanishing point” stemming from optics: when projecting parallel lines in a three-dimensional setting to a two-dimensional picture, those lines seem to converge to one or several vanishing points. This meaning symbolises the stories of the families I met which are similar like converging lines and seem to move towards one point - a new home in a foreign country. And last but not least, perspective and projections play an important role in photography and the compositon of pictures.
The project will be exhibited in the group exhibition ZEITKOLORIT at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin from May, 6 – June, 12. Please find the invitation here.
I am very grateful to the families who agreed to have their personal experience recorded and to be photographed. Their personal stories are unimaginable and moving, but also full of hope and energy to start a new life in a new country and see their children grow up with good perspectives for their future. I believe it is worth to tell their stories because there are hundreds if not thousands of them living in Germany and many other European countries.
The pictures will be displayed later also on my website. Part of the project is a booklet with short texts telling the personal story of each family and with more pictures of their life in Germany today.
Best regards and keep the faith!