About a Photo: H10F27

Istanbul, 3 April 2011, around 10 PM

During my second return to Istanbul, in 2011, while shooting my Khamra Obscura project I took this photo. I carried out that project by shooting a roll of film every hour for 24 straight hours as I walked the city. This is part of the tenth roll. Night had hit on a quiet Thursday. I had plotted a general course through the city to take me through places I knew, places I wanted to see, and to do so in an order that would keep interesting things to photograph around me at the hour I was there.

One of these places was Sirkeci Station, a main terminal, the end of the line before a ferry has to cross the Bosphorus to take you into Asia. It was 2008 before that when I first arrived by train, on a line called the Bosphorus Express, on a long haul ride from Bucharest. That was a tough year, a year which was just beginning. I was heartbroken then, in 2008, as usual. I went to Istanbul alone. The dim blue train pulled in, and I found myself in Istanbul.

It was a place I had to include on my return in 2011. The photo is the ticketing counter, and it’s the first thing you see alighting and walking from the station. For me, the importance of this shot is the crossover between the irony and the reality of loneliness of it. A silent moment in a landing point for one of the world’s great centers of motion. It is a moment of hüzün, author Orhan Pamuk’s defined Istanbul-centric melancholy. The place is grand and silent, dark and blinding. The marble of the station in a deep grays, in rolling and striation. The teller in a suit, and turned away. Discordant angles, pulling away. The faint train in the poster, offering a path to whatever.

That melancholy I found here was the same, three years and three months later. The light came through me the same way, and through the camera onto the film. Hüzün: I hadn’t yet learned the word for it, but it wrote itself into me.

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