As ten photographers from Istanbul and Erivan we gathered in March 2006 and decided to perform a collective workshop .Our point of origin was the insufficient knowledge of our societies about each other. Living together and sharing the same land for more than hundreds of years and being geographical neighbors, we still had a huge gap between us.
It could be the very first step for overcoming our mutual prejudices by collective artistic and cultural activities through media channels. With smoothing of the current relations a new atmosphere for a dialogue platform will emerge and that will serve the best interest of both parts.
The photographers from Patker Photo and Nar Photos have believed to establish an independent media platform. We have known from the very beginning that we should definitely trust each other and we were aware of the importance of the outcome but even more of the magnitude of the whole process. We were using the same language, language of photography, so it had been easy for both parts to communicate with each other.
We spent one week in each city and during that time we tired not only to photograph the appearances but also the reality underneath them. Undoubtedly the time has been limited and both cultural cities served endless photographic opportunities. With our cameras we were treated friendly in official areas, crowded avenues, residences to which we were specially invited, faraway quarters and back streets. We shot thousands of pictures and the ones that we picked up among them established the MERHABAREV.
As social documentary photographers we are interested in current moment. We record the things we see in order to share it with others. We like our photographs to have a meaning, to include a story and to give information. By stopping the time with every single snap, by creating the images apart from the integrity of life itself ,we try to create new remarks for present and leave some sayings to future. The result is formed by our critics, our suggestions and our complaints.
With the help of our photos we wish to establish a bridge between people, nations and cultures. Creation of fair and equal relationships by maintaining the differences among people is our main objective. We try to contribute in demolishing the prejudices and growing of peace and friendship.
We are the people of Anatolia and Caucasia and we know how to reduce our suffering by sharing and cooperation.
MERHABAREV has been a special work performed by people who are in favor of the dialogue between two nations, who wish to reopen all the closed doors and boundaries, who know very well that it was essential first to open the borders in our heads, who believe in demolishing the taboos, in expressing the beliefs in freedom and in discussing the past and future openly. During one of our conversations Arto Tunçboyacıyan has said: ‘If you are honest to yourself, your photos will be real’. For documentary photographers the reality is very essential. To find our way through the reality appearances we are aware of the importance of honesty, justice and freedom. There is another important truth which should be considered very serious: all the nations, actually all the mankind can only develop and create a better world by confronting with its past. The only condition for that is freeing ourselves from the slavery of the past.
And with all these emotions and views photographers from Istanbul entrust their city to the eyes of their friends from Yerevan and the ones from Yerevan, they entrust their city to the eyes of their mates from Istanbul.
I hope that you will share our joy, thoughts and feeling with us while we were taking all those photographs, because we all know that the suffering declines and joy grows only by sharing it.
Özcan Yurdalan 25-29 October 2006 Erivan/İstanbul