Emerging as a small emirate in Western Anatolia in the early fourteenth century, the Ottomans turned into a superpower of the world in the sixteenth century. The Empire acquired a multi-layered socio-cultural variety through the expansion of its borders. The troublesome decline during the nineteenth century paved the way not only for great territorial losses, but also for social changes and innovations through political, legal and economic regulations.
A concrete example of the modernization of Ottoman society was the introduction of photography. The first photographic studio opened in Istanbul in 1850. Orientalist photographs recording city panoramas, monuments, and views of daily life, mostly in the bazaar area, as well as the rich human landscape attracted foreigners, thus expanding the market. New studios were opened, and photography penetrated into Anatolia.
One such thematic series prepared by pioneer photographers of the nineteenth century with a commercial interest in mind covered the images of the ubiquitous street vendors encountered in bazaars and streets, at the gates of madrasas, in front of mosques, and by public fountains. These itinerant vendors, representing all ethnic and age groups, were a dynamic part of daily life with their gestures, poses and mimicry – their calls and cries, anecdotes, and jokes – done while performing their jobs. Their photographic documentation was done either naturally in the streets or in the studio setting.
This photo selection comes from the collection of the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Center for Mediterranean Civilizations and the Kaleiçi Museum that has functioned in Antalya since 1996. Its aim is to present and memorialize these long-forgotten sympathetic actors of the Turkish social life in the nineteenth century as reflected in the lenses of pioneer photographers.
In addition to the old photos, the exhibition presents authentic caricaturizing statuettes produced by the ceramic artist Sadrettin Savaş of Antalya.
The exhibition was hosted at Nuremberg and Berlin, Germany, as well as at various institutions in Antalya during 2011 and 2012.