Photographs of artist capture timeless cities
Most of the photographs in Hasan Deniz’s exhibition were taken in the last two years during journeys to various cities.An abandoned basketball court, a bench on a lonely beach, a road without any cars, city center devoid of any people in the break of dawn are some of the images greeting the visitors in a recent photography exhibition in Istanbul’s Milli Reasürans Art Gallery.
The photographer is Hasan Deniz in his first solo exhibition, and the exhibition is called “Alte Liebe,” “Old Love” in German, a term that often springs up in various forms of art.
“When planning the exhibition, I wanted to honor the German romanticism that had a profound influence on me,” said Deniz. “Alte Liebe gave its name to the exhibition showcasing very personal images.” The immediate feeling as you see the images in the exhibition is one of timelessness, a sense of unfamiliarity. “In all of the photographs, my approach was to free them, as much as I could, from the slice of time they were captured in,” he said.
“In order to achieve that, I have tried avoiding familiar buildings and locations that were defining. I tried to give the as little of a hint as to what the place is.”
Derelict buildings, graveyards, and urban decay might be some of the images in the exhibition, but the photographs in “Alte Liebe” are not meant to take you down, rather to take you to an unattended, disarming journey across the globe.
“Since I have been concerned with avoiding the familiar, it naturally gives the impression that I have been wandering around unknown, secret locations.
”While the images display a landscape of different cities and locations in different seasons, the collection is far from your typical travel photography.
“Whatever your subject matter is and whatever you take, every photograph is a document. My concern with this exhibition and photography in general is distance it from its role of informing and documenting, and present ‘timeless’ images,” said Deniz.
‘Journey to the End of Life’
The sense of timelessness is heightened with the lack of human subjects. Abandonment is at the heart of the locations Deniz has captured, be it a dinner table, an open-air theater, or the view of a city from a terrace. “I have been avoiding human subjects as they are strong actors and give whole new meanings to photographs,” he said. What about the people in a few of the photographs? “They are all in a distance where they are not staring at us, just witnesses to what we are seeing in the photographs.”
Most of the photographs in the exhibition were taken in the last two years, images collected along journeys to various cities. There is one photograph in the exhibition, the final one, that is separate from the others. “The photo of the old ship-cum-bar-restaurant, called Alte Liebe, was mentioned in a scene in late writer Tezer Özlü’s novel ‘Yaşamın Ucuna Yolculuk’ [Journey to the End of Life]. That photograph is the product of a planned photo shoot,” said Deniz.
You will see in the exhibition catalogue that the forward is written by another writer, Murat Gülsoy. “What good is a movie that plays incessantly, over and over again in an empty theater?” begins the forward. “A memory-less recollection lasts as long as it can last and not a moment longer.” Hasan Deniz wanted Gülsoy to write the introduction. “I thought some of the words written by one of my favorite writers are quite reminiscent of my photographs,” said Deniz. “Instead of a generic introduction, I wanted to have a free, literary introduction, like my photography that is informing or explanatory.”
Hasan Deniz studied in the renowned Galatasaray Lycée, and later graduated from Marmara University’s Cinema and Television department.
After developing a passion for photography, he worked in Dergi, the weekly supplement of the daily Cumhuriyet. Deniz feels architectural photography closest to his heart. His first solo exhibition “Alte Liebe” can be seen in in Milli Reasürans Art Gallery until April 26.