/24 Road

George Georgiou

Fault Lines: Turkey/East/West

Turkey is a strategically important nation, poised geographically and symbolically between Europe and Asia. But the tensions at the heart of Turkey are becoming increasingly severe. A struggle is taking place between modernity and tradition, secularism and Islamism, democracy and repression—often in unlikely and contradictory combinations. It is these contradictions the work addresses and the complexities of a large country that was a former imperial empire searching for a modern identity. While living in Turkey for four and a half years, I was surprised at how quickly change was taking place: landscapes, towns, and cities reshaped, an extensive road network under construction, town centers “beautified,” and large apartment blocks springing up at a rapid rate around every town and city. Almost always, the architecture and infrastructure follow the same blueprint. Cities are becoming carbon copies of each other. This modernization is designed to handle the mass migration from village to city that is transforming Turkey. Istanbul, a city of a million people in 1960, is now one of the world’s largest urban sprawls with an estimated population of over 15 million. The migration is raising a host of new issues. One of the most immediate concerns is the rapid disintegration of community in Turkish villages and towns. Turkey is often seen as the country that will bridge the gap between the West and the Middle East. At the moment Turkey is at a political crossroads that will define the very nature of the country. My work seeks to address and question the concept of East and West and the process of modernization, urbanization, and national identity that is happening against a rising tide of nationalism and religion. I have chosen to represent the changes by focusing on the quiet everyday life that most people in Turkey experience.