Presented as a Feature Exhibition for Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2017.
Listen to Yusuf's Audio Tour here:
Access and exposure through the photographic image is street photographer Yusuf Aksoy's primary motivation. Aksoy documents Turkish daily life, and the experience of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Noting the cultural tension and underlying resentment of his neighbours and friends as Syrians flooded into his country, Yusuf felt the need to tell their story. Using the global reach of Instagram, he aims to reveal that, fundamentally, we all share the same fears, joys and desires, despite the political boundaries that divide us. He states ‘I photograph Syrian refugees' lives because I noticed a lot of people in my country [resent them]. I had to show that they are human beings just like all of us. They had to leave their country ... because it isn't safe anymore. Most of their relatives are dead. I just wanted to make people more empathetic’.
Turkey has welcomed nearly three million Syrian refugees without visas but is under no obligation to provide shelter for them. As a result, there are shanty towns cropping up all over Konya, where Yusuf lives. “The people in ghettos show all their emotions, without barriers”. Inspired by their exposed humanity, this self-taught photographer intimately connects with his subjects with flawless composition and an incredible sense of timing for that ‘decisive moment’ essential to meaningful storytelling. In Konya focuses on the universality of the photographic image and the international community created by social media as an instrumental tool in understanding our shared humanity across borders.