26 January 2016

Taking its name from a mosque commissioned by Bali Bey, one of the Ottoman governors nearly 500 years ago, Balbey is one of Antalya’s oldest neighborhoods having old houses with ‘cumba’ (bay window characteristic in Ottoman houses) and narrow roads.  It was enlisted as a protected urban site 20 years ago and since then there has been no development in the area. Located at the heart of this fast growing city that welcomes millions of tourists each year, the condition here in Balbey is worsening with each passing day, as the neighborhood is in the process of decaying.

Some families in this slowly dilapidating neighborhood moved away long ago, while some stay and continue to struggle. Most of the families residing in the neighborhood are poor. Most families are aware of the fact that their houses are going to be torn down under the “urban transformation project”. Quite differently from the children living two neighborhoods away, children here play on the streets instead of playing games on computers and instead of modern toys they play football by building goals of stones, some work at an early age just to support household budget instead of attending a school.

Little shoulders take on a great weight of responsibility. Growing up amidst these troubles affects them for sure. You can observe these effects too well by looking at the games they play, their conversations with each other and their behaviors. In my photographs, my intention was to reflect how the problems in this environment affect the children of Balbey and how they must act-live as if they were adults -lacking the ability to act as children.

My purpose in this project is to raise public awareness of the problems faced by the children of Balbey, to draw the attention of local governments to this area, to document this historic and decaying area and to make sure we preserve our urban heritage.