[ EPF 2018 SHORTLIST ]
The history of the Mesopotamian rivers and their presence in our own cultural history may be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, spanning some, 10,000 years of world heritage. In the 4th millennium BCE, the first literate societies emerged in Southern Mesopotamia, often referred to as the Cradle of Civilization. What was once considered to be the Garden of Eden is now in danger of disappearing.
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers occupy a central place in the daily life, ecology, and history of millions of people living around them. The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of the Middle East flowing over 1,700 miles from eastern Turkey through Syria and Iraq.
The town of Hasankeyf in southeast Turkey is the only place in the world that has met nine out of ten criteria for Unesco’s world heritage sites. However, the Turkish government has made no effort to bid for its inclusion in the coveted world heritage list, or to promote tourism in the ancient town located along the Tigris River. Any effort to do so would harm the development of the Ilisu dam — a state project that is supposed to entirely flood Hasankeyf, along with 52 other villages and 15 nearby towns, by 2019.
Already, a number of towns and villages located on the Euphrates River have been flooded as part of Turkey’s controversial Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi — or Southeastern Anatolia Project. GAP, as it is known, is currently Ankara’s most significant territory planning project, involving eight provinces, and will irrigate 1.7 million dry hectares of earth from 22 different dams all fed by water from the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.
Both residents of southeastern Turkey and international observers continue to question the Ilisu dam, which will destroy a unique historical site, where Assyrians, Roman, and Ottoman monuments exist in close proximity. Yet the Turkish government maintains that the project will aid the impoverished region, allowing the creation of 10,000 jobs and the development of local farming and agriculture.
Along with environmental and social risks, the geopolitical impact of the dam cannot be ignored either. The development of Ilisu has been severely criticized by neighboring Iraq and Syria, who accuse Turkey of appropriating waters of two rivers that connect to their territories, which are already hit by arid conditions and drought.
b. 1980 France. Mathias Depardon was raised between France, Belgium and the USA. After studying communication and journalism in Brussels, Mathias briefly joined the Belgian national newspaper Le Soir before devoting himself to reportage and feature work. His immersive process and slower approach to journalism allow for comprehensive bodies of work that reveal and frame important social, economic and political issues in territories under tension such as Turkey and Iraq where he question the idea of border and territory. Through series of portraits and landscapes, Mathias Depardon probe a Turkey torn between modernization and the reminiscence of the ottoman values evoking the notion of Pan-Turkism in the neighboring countries. In 2018 he is the finalist of the Grand Prix de la Photographie Documentaire in Sète and laureate of the Grant for Contemporary Documentary Photography (Centre National des Arts Plastiques). Exhibitions have included the Musée des Archives nationales and Arles.
The Emerging Photographer Fund is supported by generous donors to the Magnum Foundation