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Leica International Istanbul LFI

Bernd Arnold - Istanbul Beyoglu

Centre and melting-pot of the Turkish metropolis Istanbul

Beyoglu was the old cosmopolitan heart of Istanbul, but today it also representsthe throbbing new business centre of the famous city on the Bosphorus, the ethnic boundary between Europe and Asia. 100 years ago, Armenians, Greeks and Jews lived together here with the upper classes of the Ottoman Empire. It was also here that passengers from the Orient Express, the last Grand Hotel which dates from the turn of the century. Beyoglu later became a banking centre, but likewise notorious as a bar and red light quarter.Finally it attracted the bohemians.

In more recent years, Beyoglu has Once again become the true centre of Istanbul and a veritable melting pot of nations.Here you find everything mingled together.Smart shops, avant-garde cafés, rock clubs and similar establishments have settled along the boulevards, now officially a pedestrian zone.They exist door to door with, for example, the last Armenian corset-maker or the old Sephardic Jews who still speak Ladino but, likewise, the Kurdish fugistives, the experimental Turkish theatre group "Kumpanera" and the 80-year-old-brothel-queen of Istanbul, Madame Manoukian, who was declared to be the most honest tax-payer in the city for several years in a row. Here one finds, so to speak, "la Rive Gauche" of Istanbul. For those who are not aware, Beyoglu lies on a hill on the left side of the Bosphorus.

Bernd Arnold captured the fascination of this bustling quarter with his Leica on an assignment for the magazine GEO. The Leica Gallery Solms is showing further photo from this series. This German photographer, based in Cologne, is known for his intimate environment studies. For his latest book Das Kölner Heil, Bernd Arnold studied the citizens of the Rhine city for more than ten years,in particular their special relationship with the catholic church. In fact, the intrigue on the part of certain lobbies or groups of people to maintain power have always especially interested the photographer. For instance, he photographed the rituals surrounding the last election campaign, phenomena in German party politics, and presented the results in an exhibition hung during last Photokina show in Cologne. The journalist Ralph Alexowitz once described Bernd Arnold`s work as "excursions into closed societies, flying visits into a microcosm whose power structures, production strategies and rituals he the records with camera."

Today Bernd Arnold is a member of the renowned picture agency VISUM and works for leading publications such as Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Stern, GEO or Merian. It is not easy to say which are the most salient virtues of this talented photographer who appears equally at home in colour or black-and-white photography. At any rate, thanks to his all-round ability, he seems to find the most appropriate approach for every topic he tackles - without abandoning his own particular style.

(by the way, photographed with Leica R6 and M4-P)

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Leica International, Nov. 1999, page 4-9
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Leica International Istanbul LFILeica International Istanbul LFI