Under the Shadow of the Sun
I moved to the Van region of Turkey in 2010 to work as a photography teacher at the Yuzuncu Yil University. Of course I was also aware that Van has witnessed many cultures and peoples and is marked profoundly by its traditional villages, mountains, lakes, and islands. As a photographer this was definitely something I wanted to explore. And then there was the ever-present sun, which the ancient Urartu must have been inspired by when they named the region ‘Tusba,’ (the city of the sun). And so in 2011, I entitled my project Under the Shadow of the Sun, and began to explore hidden lives. I use the word hidden, because once I traversed the steep paths and reached remote mountain villages such as Toreli, Alacayar, Bilgi, and Uzuntekne, I was greeted with a kind of lifestyle very few of us have ever witnessed. I really see these hidden lives as the antithesis of our technology driven culture. I wandered among the remote mountain villages of Turkey’s Van region for six years, documenting every moment of hardship and beauty in the midst of nature’s unmitigated presence. One of the things that struck me most was that the profound unease that comes with modern living is entirely absent in these villages. And one of the most important things I learned is that the ideology of human progression, and its consequent technological breakthroughs, have not made humankind happier and have instead decreased genuine and human experiences.