For Birds' Sake

Maria Sturm

2014 - 2015

İstanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

For Birds' Sake

Since the time of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul has been a very important city for aviculture. The city’s geographical location for bird migration has led to the establishment of a huge culture devoted to birds and their care. Many diverse social platforms exist, for example, devoted to the keeping and breeding of birds. Today this culture is in danger; keeping songbirds such as goldfinches and greenfinches, in particular, may soon vanish due to the Turkey’s adaptation to criteria for European Union candidacy.

This work is about the birdmen of Istanbul and focuses on the -shrouded- relationship between the bird and the birdman, one full of contradictions of love, possession, and pleasure.

This is a a deeper look at birds without seeing actual birds, but instead listening to them.

Imagery stuffed with representations of birds.

A mutual madness between photographers and birdmen.

Us, trying to understand this passion fitted into cages, and them, trying to understand our urge to take pictures of these ‘ordinary’ cages.

The contradictions of femininity and masculinity.

The feminine caress along with the power of men.

The male birds that sing to call the females and the male bird keepers who compete amongst themselves for birdman with the best singing bird.

The interruption of actual husband-wife relationships and the tattoos of the names of wives as a proof of their love for their women.

An escape, a life-long journey,

a shadow that is being carried away, everywhere they go.

A father, a lover, a healer,

an illegal tradition,

an addiction,

a meditation.

Something they need in order to feel good.

a fight towards the power of nature to make the birds live longer… and a fight against people who are trying to ‘protect’ the birds and let them fly. [only a bird that is caught from freedom sings the best.]

A demanding care,

a gentle touch,

men smelling like newspapers and turkish tea,

a competition,

a panel of four judges who listen to so called mistakes of four birds that are competing against each other… or four birdmen.

A white box that contains darkness

in order to make the bird sing more beautiful.

A very nice conversation

a language that derives from birds.

…and two women trying to learn how to listen and speak.

Cemre Yesil - Maria Sturm

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