Brave New Turkey • Norman Behrendt
The project Brave New Turkey is based on a conceptual approach to documenting newly built mosques in a Neo-Ottoman-Style in the urban landscape of Ankara and Istanbul and reflects this phenomenon as a symbol of change and power that reaches beyond national borders.
Returning Turkey to the glories and origins of its Ottoman past and ending Atatürk’s secular constitution has been one of the primary goals of Recep Erdoğan throughout his long rule of Turkey since 2003, first as prime minister and now as president with growing executive powers. Thanks to the country’s economic boom, the AKP, Erdoğan’s party, has improved healthcare, urban infrastructure and prosperity, but on the other hand has also made control of religious affairs a priority. The Diyanet (Directorate for Religious Affairs) fulfills this role and helps to legitimize the religious backswing of Turkey. In less than a decade, its budget has quadrupled to over $2 billion per year, and it employs over 120,000 people, making it one of Turkey’s largest institutions — bigger than the Ministry of Interior.
In recent years the Diyanet has become a political instrument for the government to reshape Turkey and intensify control over the people. The Diyanet is the main investor for thousands of the newly built mosques in Turkey and abroad. As most of them are built in a Neo-Ottoman style with their distinctive domes and minarets, they follow precisely the architectural tradition of Mimar Sinan (1490 – 1588), the master of classical Ottoman architecture.
Since 1987, the number of mosques in Turkey has grown from 60,000 to more than 85,000 in 2013, an increase of almost 1,000 mosques per annum.
The newly constructed mosques attest the evident political influence on urban planning, but more importantly on Turkish society. Brave New Turkey is less about architecture in a classical sense, but rather how architecture reflects power and how ideologies are manifested in it. It reflects a newly tied compound of religious and cultural identity, against the backdrop of a constant exclusion of minorities, a reckless fight against those whose convictions are different and an unresolved question of what is Turkish identity?
About Norman Behrendt
Norman Behrendt, born in 1981 in former East Berlin, is a German photographer, currently based between London and Berlin. He studied graphic design and photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam and graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree. In his early childhood, he experienced the fall of the Berlin wall and German reunification. This memorable event shaped his awareness of the social and political developments in Europe caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Behrendt focusses on personal projects. His photographic work mainly deals with the individual, cultural and political significance of places and the people defining them. Within this framework, his work exists on the boundaries between documentary and conceptual photography. Currently Behrendt is a scholarship holder by the DAAD for his Master studies ‘Photographic Arts’ at the University of Westminster in London.
Info on the Book: Greetings from Turkey
€ 12,- stamped and signed!
Edition of 800 copies, english, date of release: 2017
17 postcards on grooved printed sheets, 11 x 13.6 cm, English, 2 different covers
Printed in Germany, published by Hartmann Projects