The Time Machine
This work is perhaps one of the least usual of my recent years as an artist. I have never seen myself as a reportage photographer. In fact, I have always resisted offers of this kind from magazines.
A friend of mine told me that he had bought a very old 5-storey house in the old town in a southern German city in order to renovate it and rent out the apartments. Everything was in a very bad condition since no renovations had been made in the last decades.
One of these houses had been rented by Turkish emigrants for more than forty years and was still in the same condition as in those remote times, so my friend.
A very interesting thing and, if I wish, I could have a look at it and perhaps take a photo or two of this curiosity.
The elderly tenants returned more than a decade ago to Turkey, but because their children still live in Germany, they have kept the stay for the days when they come to visit.
This friend, as the landlord with the renovation project that was to be carried out in the short term, had a key and thus access to the apartment. I promised him that if he took some photos I would not publish them until after the death of these people.
Several years have passed since I took these photographs and I may break my promise because I have no contact with this friend and I do not know for sure if those old people are still alive. In spite of this, I have been inclined to publish them because I believe that these images are historical documents of public interest.
In my opinion, this “public interest” can be perfectly placed in Andalucia, Spain, where in the fifties and sixties of the last century, many were forced to emigrate, like these people from Turkey.
Among them was also my father, who settled at the end of the fifties in the south of Germany, in an apartment very similar to the one I show here; with heating and stove running with coal, used and rickety furniture, little light (in winter almost none) and, in his case, no bathroom or shower. The toilet was located on the landing of the staircase and was communal for the neighbors on that floor.
He had been living in this apartment for many years. Later on married and with small children, he was finally given a modern social housing apartment.
I still remember the kitchen, the armchairs, my mother lighting the coal in the stove, desperately trying to heat it up a little, at least to melt the ice that the windows had on the inside.
These two situations have much in common, the one presented here and the one I experienced, although, in my case, a dark wooden cross decorated the kitchen instead of the Hagia Sofia carpet and the portrait of Cemal Atatürk.