Pictures for Purpose: supporting Turkey & Syria through photography
In conversation with Olgaç Bozalp
Why did you decide to participate in this photography fundraiser?
I grew up and lived in Turkey until I was eighteen years old. Coming back to photograph it is my way of sharing my memories. I also have a special connection with Antakya because I was there only a few months prior to the earthquake. I found it to be a majestical part of the country. I got a tattoo based on “the skeleton mosaic” discovered a few years back in Antakya. It has an inscription in ancient Greek that says “be cheerful and enjoy life”—I find this a special daily reminder.
What are the stories behind the two photographs you contributed?
We were on our way to Vakıflı Köy, the last remaining Armenian village in Turkey, when I saw this scene while crossing an ancient Ottoman bridge. It was an instant flashback to the Sunday mangal ('barbecue') ritual in my childhood, where we put our produce in the water to 'refrigerate' it.
This was a collaboration with Turkish designer Dilara Findikoğlu. We intended to convey a bride on her wedding day.
Can you tell us a bit more about your artistic practice?
I like to blur the line between fiction and reality within my photographs. By blending the two, they create different meanings for each viewer. My educational background in Theatre helped shape my improvisational approach to stylised documentary and staged scenarios.
Pictures for Purpose
Pictures for Purpose is a foundation that generates financial support and awareness for urgent causes through the medium of photography. Launched in 2020, this fourth edition of its print sale fundraiser supports those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
39 artists are donating prints to the project, such as Daisuke Yokota, Sem Langendijk, Carmen Winant, Harley Weir, Jean-Vincent Simonet, Isabelle Wenzel and Myriam Boulos. As with previous editions, a number of the featured artists have a particular affinity with the affected regions, amongst others, Olgaç Bozalp, Solène Şahmaran Gün.
Pictures for Purpose is a creative effort by creative consultant & curator Isabella van Marle (former curator of Unseen Amsterdam photography fair), creative director Kunna Haan, digital marketeer Tijn Benedek and designer Raisa Kingma, to support urgent causes through the medium of photography.
Prints cost €129 and are available in an open edition for two weeks. They are unsigned and printed by Amsterdam-based organisation Fotolab on 20 x 30cm paper. This print sale also includes larger prints by Lea Colombo, Olgaç Bozalp, and Sarah van Rij at a limited edition of 30.
Founded by the Turkish musician and philanthropist Haluk Levent, Ahbap is a non-governmental grassroots organisation. It is a collaborative movement, working with a value system based on solidarity, sharing, caring, and belonging. The organisation operates in areas such as social aid, animal rights, humanitarian aid, and natural disaster coordination and assistance. Ahbap has more than 68 established local working groups around Turkey developing projects based on sustainable solidarity models.
Since the first day of the earthquakes, Ahbap volunteers have been working on the ground. Alongside rescue efforts, they have provided urgent basic needs such as containers, tents, hot meals, generators, blankets, and clothing to thousands affected. Some of the long term goals currently include rebuilding schools in the areas, creating and opening elderly facilities, student dorms, and rehabilitation centers.
Formed in 2014 during the Syrian Civil War, The White Helmets is a volunteer organisation that operates in parts of opposition-controlled Syria and in Turkey. The majority of the volunteers' activity in Syria consists of medical evacuation, urban search and rescue in response to bombing, evacuation of civilians from danger areas, and essential service delivery.
White Helmets volunteers saved almost 3,000 people from the destruction caused by the earthquake. They help provide urgent support to Syria's earthquake survivors and are starting the next phase of their emergency response: recovery and rehabilitation.
Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and Gemeente Amsterdam.