Countries and cities worldwide have a great need to distinguish themselves, especially in the truly exceptional. At a global level, countries compete with one another to obtain major events like the Olympics, the World Cup football, becoming the cultural capital of Europe, etc. Towns and localities in any given country differentiate and pride themselves on their historic heritage or outstanding cultural or sports events that attract tourists and visitors. But what do these exceptional events in these exceptional towns reveal about the quality of daily life in a country, the way a society is organized, the cultural values embedded in the variety of activities taking place in a community? It is the 'Middle town', a place with no name for the tourists, where the real differences occur, this is where we can still be surprised by the way how others organize their lives, where we can learn from the different. In this project, we endeavored to look at ordinary people in ordinary towns in ordinary regions – exploring the extraordinary habits, and exceptionally unspectacular yet meaningful ways of life. The aim of the project is to get much closer to the nature of our societies, by making the invisible average visible.
The project, carried out by ISSP, GAPO and FotoForum, has engaged 12 emerging photographers from Latvia, Turkey, Poland, Estonia and Italy. Two workshops – initial one in Turkey in March 2012 and an editing workshop in Latvia in August 2012 were carried out, led by experienced Dutch mentors, curator Bas Vroege and photographer Hans van der Meer, being the collective moment for the realisation of work.
Each of the participants carried out an individual documentary project within the subject. Works represented a wide range of approaches: cityscapes, images of human behavior, still lives, portraits - the participants were in their own ways looking for expressions of normality, things with qualities of the ‘unspectacular’, those parts of the everyday that feel so normal that they go unnoticed. The results have been put together in form of 11 dummy books and two video works.
Yiğit Tanel Kaçar
Project website: www.middletownproject.net
[This project takes place in the framework of Tandem Turkey-EU programme. TANDEM Turkey-EU is an initiative of the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam), MitOst (Berlin), Anadolu Kültür (Istanbul), and supported by Stiftung Mercator (Essen). More information at www.tandemexchange.eu.]