Hasankeyf is an ancient town in Southeastern Turkey, located along the Tigris river in the Batman province. It was established in the 18th century BC and in 1981, almost 3600 years later, it was declared a natural conservation area by Turkey. In spite of this, it’s been regularly flooded as part of a dam-building project, regardless of the concerns raised by the local population and the international community.
Hussain Ali is a British-Iraqi documentary photographer who is interested in capturing the human connection with their social identity and land. He documents stories that inspire us to consider our relationship with nature and wildlife and his body of work on Hasankeyf is no exception.
“Construction work on the dam and its hydroelectric power plant started in 2006, despite a fight by residents and environmental campaigners to save it. Collected here are images from the past few years, as Hasankeyf was slowly engulfed by the rising Tigris River.“
The dam was built 75km away from Hasankeyf and as the reservoir slowly filled up the locals were evacuated in government-built housing on the opposite shore. Ali has photographed the area just before the evacuation began as he was intrigued by how the locals can go about their daily lives as if nothing was happening. The project investigates the transition and the displacement of the people from the old town to the so-called New Hasankeyf. The Turkish government is now trying to brush the problem under the proverbial carpet in order to encourage tourism by allowing swimming in the reservoir and even offering boat tours.
Hussain Ali utilises photography to bring our attention to a problem that’s been a thorn in the locals’ eyes for many, many years. This is one of photography’s real strengths — at its very core, it’s a tool for documenting the world.
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