Rather than glamour, then, it is this living ruin which the photographs of Ali Taptik seek: the place of the individual carving out a space of life within and despite the city, as though swearing at it. Whether shrouded apartment buildings awaiting new life or truant high-school lovers nesting in the secluded nooks of a park endlessly waiting for their lives as well to begin, his subjects turn their back to the classical nostalgia of the city, of history against water, of steam and fog and birds, and of the pathos of the common man and towards the insurmountable insufficiencies of the present. It is not at all clear that the buildings will emerge from their shrouds as butterflies from their cocoons, transformed for new life, nor that the truant kids are missing much or promised much for their futures within the city so grand, so sublime that it becomes as invisible, or as local, as the body of the dog from the perspective of the flea.
Yet the photographs do not capture these subjects as lost or pathetic, but rather as defiant, as though they opt out of the city as a form of voting, as a means of representing themselves in the alternative, sequestered places of the city which are not represented by municipal fictions such as elections and administrations who recycle nostalgia to brand the city. By featuring actual lived spaces, Ali Taptik represents the ruin that comes not from a weighty past, but from a weighty and largely young population that often cannot see its future. In doing so, he gives his subjects a presence that exposes their absent voice. Turning away from the city’s historic legacy, from the picturesque frame of how it is supposed to be seen, the photographs of Ali Tapt?k provide a vision onto an actual modern city which expresses itself democratically, and suggest through the image how a democratic society might learn, in this new generation, to express itself politically as well."
Wendy M.K. Shaw
on Familiar Strangers