visual podcast

The Coffee Reading:

Tales of the Afro Turkish Diaspora

This story starts in 2002, when photographer Ahmet Polat (Studio Polat) met Mustafa Olpak in Izmir, Turkey. At the time, Olpak – an Afro-Turkish writer and activist – was tracing the history of enslaved Africans who were brought over to work in the open fields of Izmir in Western Turkey during the 19th century, but whose stories were never included in Turkish school books. He reached out to others who shared his Afro-Turkish ancestry, seeking to recollect their stories, to reconnect them with their past. Many of them lost touch with their ancestors’ heritage as they swiftly adapted to the demands of the young Turkish Republic. This eventually led Olpak to establish the African’s Culture and Solidarity Society (‘Dernek’) in 2006.
Young Kids enjoying their first photography workshop ‘Dark Moon’ Torbali, Izmir 2022 © Studio Polat

about the visual podcast

Moved by Olpak’s quest, Ahmet Polat offered to help him spread the word through the medium he knew best: photography. Throughout the years, the Society has been raising awareness about this past while also fostering connections between the Afro-Turkish living in the outskirts of Izmir. Image-making has played a key role in this process. Outdoor portrait workshops have attracted and engaged young Turkish whereas pop-up exhibitions have helped assemble a living archive. The connection to the photographic world has also helped the Society expand its scope and establish collaborations with other cultural organisations in Europe, including Foam.

For the first edition of the visual podcast The Coffee Reading, Studio Polat and Foam invited three members from the Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society in Izmir to share their story through the ritual act of drinking and reading Turkish coffee. Their conversation is part of the Dark Moon photographic project that featured at Gallery Mercatorplein in 2022. This project is the result of the long-term collaboration between Studio Polat and the Society and sheds light on this underexposed history.

In this episode, the members talk about how the African’s Culture and Solidarity Society came to shape and the legacy it wishes to leave behind for future generations.

Watch The Coffee Reading:

Şakir Doğuluer interviewed about the Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society in Izmir
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The Coffee Reading: Tales of the Afro Turkish Diaspora © Studio Polat x Foam

Beyhan Türkkollu
Ahmet Polat during a photography workshop in Turkey © Studio Polat
Ahmet Sezer being photographed by his son Ahmet, Dark Moon - Tales of the Afro Turkish Diaspora 2005 - 2022 © Studio Polat

Part of Kısmet: Through the lens of Turkish visual culture

This edition of The Coffee Reading is part of Kısmet, a multi-year project organised by Studio Polat and Foam with a focus on Turkish visual culture through research, outreach, and exhibitions. Kısmet aims to visualise what it means to be Turkish. How do young Dutch-Turkish image-makers and that same generation of image-makers in Turkey give shape to the worlds they live in? Taking as a starting point a shared heritage, Kısmet explores the complex and rich perspectives of these emerging talents.

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Galerie Mercatorplein: Ahmet Polat – Dark Moon: Tales of the Afro-Turkish Diaspora, 2022 © Foam. Photo: Maarten Nauw.

about Studio Polat

Studio Polat Foundation aims to create platforms for the people portrayed in our stories, so they can become owners of their own stories. Stories shared will be told from an original and personal perspective instead of from an imposed perspective.

about Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society

Based in Izmir, the Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society was founded by writer and activist Mustafa Olpak in 2006. Their main goal is to meet, gather and help all the citizens of African origin living in Turkey as well as to do research on Afro-Turkish heritage in the country.

A video podcast for Kısmet by Foam and Studio Polat.

Host: Ahmet Polat
Production: Valeria Posada Villada
Visuals and edit: Annejet Brandsma
Interpreter: Yasemin Bağcı
Sound: Ronald van der Spek
Location: MAQAM, Amsterdam
Concept: Studio Polat

Special thanks to: Beyhan Türkkollu, Şakir Doğuluer, Orhan Çetinbilek

The Coffee Reading: Tales of the Afro Turkish Diaspora - Visual Podcast | Foam: All about photography The Coffee Reading is a series of visual podcasts organised by Studio Polat and Foam at MAQAM. This [...]
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The Coffee Reading: Tales of the Afro Turkish Diaspora