Last Exit

Kursat Bayhan

2013 - Ongoing

Istanbul, Turkey

Living in the city and the feeling of belonging to it -- this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot these days. Why do we consciously pollute the environment? Or why don’t we let others live as they please?

These questions came up as a result of the commercial misgivings and atmosphere of chaos we find ourselves in these days. Artificial green spaces becoming ever more common, with local residents becoming accustomed to them, is one of the biggest problems.

A mega project being built north of Istanbul has made escaping from the distopia that was the Gezi Park protests and entering a utopia an unreachable dream. Over 2 million trees were cut in a short period of time as part of construction work on the highways and roads leading up to the third bridge over the Bosporus, which is currently under construction. The path chosen for the highways and connecting roads is of vital importance to those of us living in the city because the lakes, wildlife and endemic plant species are a source of life for Istanbul. The history of the water resources found in and around the Belgrade Forest stretches back to Ottoman and Byzantine times.

Coastal villages such as Ağaçlı and Gümüşdere risk losing their endemic plant cover. Many lakes and ponds used as rest stops by birds migrating from Africa to Northern Europe have been drained as part of construction work on the highways and roads. And many villages and fields have been forcibly taken from villagers through expropriation. Many villagers engaged in animal husbandry have been forced to sell their livelihoods.

This all started about three years ago as an interview for a newspaper, but has since morphed into a responsibility I feel I have. I started photographing the changes in the city I live in as well as the topographic changes in the rural areas surrounding it. During my weekend trips to the construction sites and path of the highways and connecting roads, I took the time to speak with those living in the area. To illustrate this, I came up with a three-point metaphor involving rural life, the landscape and portraits.

Despite the climate and flora being within easy reach of 20 million people, being only an hour away from the population centers, it is very much reminiscent of a small town in Anatolia; knowing that it will soon disappear is simply saddening.

This project, which I named “Last Exit,” is a open call for citizen of İstanbul to recognize what is happining at the North of the City. Projects at the North of İstanbul called Mega is portent of big changes for city. Even now heat islands affected the climate of city. Wild animals escaped from construction had to find new home ranges to survive.

The “Last Exit” project will be completed with an exhibition and a book in 2018. ıt will be a photographic documentation North of İstanbul.

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