I cannot say that I’ve lived only in one city all my life. I spent my childhood, high school years and twenties in different cities. Not only have I changed cities but also moved around different districts and neighborhoods within them. During my thirties, the city I lived in stayed the same, but I lived in different districts and neighborhoods. In short, there is no city, district or neighborhood whose name will be repeated twice as I recount a long part of my life story. The fact that I now live in Yeşilyurt is not because I feel like I belong there. Certain coincidences and the relative cheapness of rents brought me here.
It is said that until the 1950s, Yeşilyurt was full of vineyards and olive groves. The internal migration towards here from the 1950s onwards brought together people with different socio-cultural backgrounds who overcame the problem of housing with gecekondu (literally means put up overnight - a house built without permission). Proliferation of gecekondu and the unplanned urbanization since the 1980s, characterized by adding storeys on existing buildings and unplanned construction of new buildings, made the situation even worse.
Buildings are constructed in a row, without any green space in sight; so, it’s almost as if the people here are ‘enforced residents’ of Yeşilyurt, this concrete jungle.
After three years I spent in Yeşilyurt, as I was about to photograph my neighborhood for this project, I started to think about and to photograph all the details that came to my mind: growing chicken in small gardens, flower pots stuck in terraces, agricultural hobbies pursued in mezzanine or semi-covered rooftops, animals struggling to survive on the street but urged to accompany people, and people who observe the shiny side of the city at a stone’s throw away from the crack between the buildings in this neighborhood.
By starting to photograph the neighborhood and its residents, I started paying attention to and reflecting on more details which passed me by in the commotion of daily life. Yeşilyurt, which looks like it is being swept away in its own hustle with its noisy streets and buildings stacked on one another, started to reveal its secrets beyond its facade. People caught up in the struggle of life, whom I thought to be ‘enforced residents’ of the neighborhood prior to taking their photos, transformed into my neighbors.
As I wandered around to take photographs, and took time to examine and contemplate on them, I felt like a part of my life story was finally forming in a neighborhood. And even better, I was feeling happy to be the protagonist of this story that has not ended yet.