Deniz Merdano: + 90, A Documentary Work on Turkey

Photographer Deniz Merdano was born in 1983 in Istanbul, Turkey. He did not get into photography until his move to the Canadian West Cost in 2001. There he began to explore the quiet landscape and the dwellers within. This immense change in his daily routine from the buzzing streets of Istanbul to the serene nature of the pacific northwest, forced him to examine the very nature of the daily life. After completing his Photography Degree at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, BC he moved to Montreal, QC where he currently works on his current projects and runs a photography school. His book, +90 is available now and the title is taken from Turkey’s international calling code. Below, Deniz writes about an experience he had in writing this book.

I am sitting on a weathered, old wooden chair, steps from the remains of the last Citadel of Ottoman Empire in Babakale. The chair is nothing fancy. I have seen it a million times growing up. At cafe’s, patios, backyards, holding trays of teacups, holding the old up and acting as the poles of a football goal in a street match. One goal is always a little smaller than the other. They are measured and set with the measuring system of steps. One kid must have smaller feet than the other.

The citadel is no different. I have seen many like it; I know there is nothing inside but yellow grass growing between the fortress stones that weigh a metric ton, faded Efes Beer cans half crumpled in a corner with an empty Marlboro soft pack alongside. These are not the old I am looking for. The old I am looking for is long gone.

Looters, weather, sun, sea…

They have taken it all. So I make do with the yellow grass and rumpled cigarette packs. When I ask for a refill on my black tea, I shift slightly; I catch a glimpse of the lighthouse on the tip of the pier and beyond it, not far, is the island of Mytilini.

I don’t know what Mytilinian people are doing there at this moment in time. They must be looking over their lighthouse while drinking tea and wondering the same. I can almost make the cars driving on it. I am sweating as I think all this. They seem all white. Maybe they sell only white cars in Mytilini i tell myself, just to stay calm.

I drink more tea. My phone rings… Not the usual dreadful ring. sounds chirpy, upbeat. Pick it up! This one may be important.

“Hey Deniz. It’s Chris, I’m in Paris, your invite still valid?”

International call.. He dialed a 15 digit phone number, +90542841…

“I didn’t think you would call. I am sitting on a weathered, old wooden chair, steps from the remains of the last Citadel of Ottoman Empire in Babakale. Western tip of Asia. Care to come out here? Bring a pen and paper.”

Next evening, I drive a dangerous, twisty, scorpion of a road for 100kms in the middle of the night to pick Chris up. Town of Ezine, he took a 14 hour sweaty bus ride from Istanbul to get here. He is sitting outside the bus terminal.

Drinking tea, it’s 1:00 a.m. We drive.

The air is green with olives. Heavy and salty.

Chris is white with Turkish driving.

15 digits, different every time but always the same +90.

Chris followed me around for the next 12 days as I photographed a part of this series.

Many people photographed in this body of work do not have access or knowledge of the Internet. So we made a book that is permanent, timeless and about moments.

-Deniz Merdano

To see more of Deniz’s work, visit his blog, Twitter and +90′s website.