Sirkhane DARKROOM – i saw the air fly
MACK – 2021
In Southeastern Turkey, just kilometres from the Syrian border, is Sirkhane: a mobile darkroom which travels from village to village teaching children how to shoot, develop, and print their own photographs. Led by Serbest Salih, a young photographer and Syrian refugee, the darkroom is founded on a fundamental belief in photography as a universal and therapeutic language, and encourages children living in the area — many of whom are themselves refugees from Syria and Iraq — to experiment with the medium as both a form of play and a means of understanding the world around them.
In these images, produced by the project’s young participants, the city of Mardin and the vast Mesopotamian plain beyond become a backdrop to the miraculous dreams, games, and discoveries which play out within the space of the frame. In occasional moments, the war nearby is hinted at: a fighter plane enters the frame of an otherwise clear sky; a child peers out from inside a UNHCR box. But rather than reiterating scenes of suffering and trauma, these images depict their environment afresh through the unmistakable, wonder-filled gaze of a child: a vision punctuated by surprise and play, in which friends and family are captured mid-flight, upside down, leaning out of windows, and whimsically disguised.
Full of laughter and joy, i saw the air fly is testament to the unfailing resilience of the imagination, the healing power of photography, and the enchanting perspective of childhood.
All proceeds from this publication will go to the Her Yerde Sanat-Sirkhane non-profit.