On behalf of Moon and Stars Project of The American Turkish Society, we are pleased to announce that the winner of the third Young Photographers Award is Duygu Gurcan of Mimar Sinan University, who will receive $5,000 for her award. In addition, honorable mentions will go to Ayse Meltem Yildiz of Yildiz Technical University and Alev Ozkan of Mimar Sinan University, who will each receive $2,500. The awards will be used to cover the recipients' tuition and/or photography equipment purchases.
The Young Photographers Award was established by Haluk Soykan in 2010 to encourage and support undergraduate students of photography in Turkey. The program is administered by the Moon and Stars Project and is made possible by a grant from Young Photographers Award Fund established by the donors at Turkish Philanthropy Funds. In addition, Moon and Stars Project makes an additional $1,000 contribution to the program to support exhibition expenses.
The winners were selected by Anne Havinga, Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs, and Karen Haas, Lane Curator of Photographs, both from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, who made the following statement about the selection process:
"It was a great privilege to be asked to jury the Young Photographers Award once again this year. As photography curators in an American museum we don’t often have the opportunity to see work made by young, emerging artists in foreign countries and very rarely are we able to study actual prints this way. We appreciate the challenges and expense that these Turkish university students faced in producing their photographs and shipping them to the U.S. for us to judge, because we benefited greatly from the experience of viewing their prints and reading the explanatory texts that accompanied them at the same time. The great breadth of this work, which ranged from social documentary, on one end of the spectrum, to highly subjective and expressive imagery, on the other, reminded us afresh of Turkey’s rich tradition of reportage and photojournalism, but also of the many international influences that inspire the look of young artists’ work today.
This year there were 15 applicants from 10 different photography programs across Turkey and the overall caliber of the work was very high. As was the case last year, choosing just one prize winner was very difficult, so we were very pleased to again be able to recognize two additional artists whose photographs really spoke to us and we felt deserved honorable mention.
The winner of this year’s Young Photographer’s Award, Duygu Gurcan, showed a stunning group of digital color prints capturing the lines of laundry that still can be found strung across empty lots and between buildings in her native Istanbul. The inability of most urban dwellers today to dry their clothes in the open air has come to symbolize for the artist the loss of more than simply green spaces in contemporary cities. For Duygu Gurcan the colorful, dancing shapes of the laundry juxtaposed against the anonymous, stacked-up forms of the city’s urban renewal projects emphasize the rapid transformation of her surroundings and the dramatic impact that this wave of modernization has had on Istanbul’s citizens.
We were also drawn to the work of Ayse Meltem Yildiz, whose lovely, large digital prints record the hands of her aged subjects holding photographs of themselves from a much earlier moment in their lives. These unusual sepia-toned portraits-within-portraits are meant to stand as witness to each sitter’s most powerful visual memories and have earned her our first honorable mention. They are particularly striking, because their contrasts are often quite vivid: for example, in one, the weathered hand of an old woman points to her own face in a crumpled class portrait of beautiful young nurses set off against an equally rough-hewn surface, and in another, an elderly man’s hand rests on a frame filled with lively snapshots of himself as an actor, dressed in cowboy gear and obviously playing to the camera.
The second honorable mention goes to Alev Ozkan, who hopes to make her mark as a documentary photographer and here has chronicled the lives of a group of miners in Zonguldak, an area on the Black Sea whose main industry is coal. Her velvety dark prints and long exposures perfectly capture both the mysterious beauty and the dangerous reality of the work carried out by these men. In the majority of her pictures the workers appear in groups, their individual features lost in the low light of the mines and the glow of their headlamps and flashlights, but in one, at least, a miner is shown close-up, his challenging stare directed at the viewer and his face and clothing covered in coal dust.
We congratulate Duygu Gurcan, Ayse Meltem Yildiz, Alev Ozkan, and all other participants and wish them continued success in their future endeavors. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the teaching staff of the following departments for nominating candidates from their respective institutions:
Akdeniz University Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Photography
Bahcesehir University Faculty of Communications, Department of Photography and Video
Bilgi University Photography and Video Department
Dokuz Eylul University Department of Photography
Halic University Faculty of Fine Arts
Kocaeli University Department of Photography
Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Department of Photography
Sabanci University Visual Arts and Visual Communications Design
Yeditepe University Department of Visual Communication Design
Yildiz Technical University Department of Photography and Video