Rotting from Within

The title Rotting From Within refers to a feeling I can only describe as the unearthing of my father or the generational trauma that exists within the patriarchs of my family and subsequently the task of uncovering and contrasting my own self amidst the things passed down. It titles a body of work made with and surrounding my father spanning the 8 years I made my reconnaissance with him beginning in 2014 between Berlin, where my parents met and I was born, and Turkey, where my father’s family lives. It deals with my struggle to define him as a father and a human, to process the events that lead to his life path and to search for the places where I can attempt at reconciliation.

When I began this project at seventeen years old, having just discovered photography, I didn’t have a purpose in mind. Initially I was fascinated by documenting his world, in awe of finally bearing witness to his life; the people who encircled him, the countless faces he sold drugs to and the places they called home. As I got older I could begin to see his world clearer, the glorification wore off as I learned more about his past, the ways he has hurt his family, as I witnessed his sadness and experienced the pains in our relationship. I kept a journal with me and wrote constantly in addition to taking these photos. Throughout the years, I began to spend more time with his parents in Antalya, Turkey. We went to their local mosque, spent time in their countryside home, having big family meals where the conversations often revolved around their muslim faith. The juxtaposition between the values of my father and the traditions of my grandparents was all the more jarring.

This exhibition and iteration of this project includes a metal wall filled and collaged with this archive, personal work (chromogenic prints, gelatin silver prints, inkjet prints, drugstore prints, xerox prints), pages from the journal I kept and archival family photographs/objects. It is a glimpse into my process as I work out how I see my photographs relating to each other visually or in terms of their content. It is how I begin to weave together the story I am trying to tell. I see this wall as a continuous evolution, something that will change each time it's hung in a different space, as the relationship with my father and myself continues to evolve.

I wanted to then choose fifteen specific photographs that I feel solidly communicate vital elements of the story and print them large on the surrounding walls. I decided to frame the photographs in chocolate stained walnut wood with a slight milled edge to create a balance to the metal and remind the viewer of old family frames, much as the objects and photos from my infancy litter my work, tying it back to the personal narrative while the largeness of the prints give the viewer a chance to wander through the painstaking consideration of details within these images.

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