University of Basel

SIBA – A Visual Approach to Explore Everyday Life in Turkish and Yugoslav Cities, 1920s and 1930s

SIBA: A Visual Approach to Explore Everyday Life in Turkish and Yugoslav Cities, 1920s and 1930s.

Sarajevo Istanbul Belgrade Ankara – all four cities shared a common past under the Ottoman Empire, and all underwent a period of accelerated modernization and urbanization in the decades before and after World War I when they were incorporated into the new Republic of Turkey and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia respectively. This project conducted by Prof. Nataša Mišković, Joël László, Milanka Matić and Yorick Tanner, and in collaboration with Prof. Mehmed Akšamija, Cengiz Kahraman, Dr. Ranka Gašić, Miloš Jurišić, Goran Knežević and Kristina Ilić, explores the social, cultural, political and urban development of these cities in the interwar period, focusing on the work of local press photographers.

The photo editors of the leading daily newspapers ‘Cumhuriyet’ in Turkey and ‘Politika’ and ‘Vreme’ in Yugoslavia, drew special attention. Photographers Namık Görgüç, Selahattin Giz, Aleksandar-Aca Simić, Rahamin-Raka Ruben and Svetozar Grdijan actively documented the manifold events and changes in their home cities with their cameras. Working in close teams and in the same offices for decades, it is often impossible to distinguish between the work of Görgüç and Giz, or Simić and Ruben. They left behind extensive photo archives that have so far been closed to research. As for Sarajevo, although no permanent press photographer could be detected, the team discovered a jewel: Alija M. Akšamija shot his first series of photographs as a twenty-year-old, documenting passers-by in the city between 1938 and 1939.