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Between 2001-2005, I worked as a teacher in Uzunöz, a village in the province of Ağrı in Turkey’s east. I was only 22 years old. Until then I had lived in Izmir on the Aegean coast, a world apart from Ağrı. After four difficult yet productive years in this remote village, I returned to Izmir at the age of 26. Now, when I look back, I realize that, albeit being all alone most of the time, I have brought back so many memories from the village.

Aquadis is one such memory. Each Fall until the end of Spring, the fathers of my students in Ağrı would travel all the way to Izmir, as if to take my place, to dive for aquadis, a type of mussel. They would live in huts by the shore. When I returned to İzmir in 2005, I remained in contact with my students and their families from the village. I very much wanted to see the village again. In 2012, I decided to document the lives of these people both in Ağrı and in Izmir and returned to the village. Between 2012 - 2103, I photographed these stories that moved between the mountains and the sea. This project is about revisiting my past, as much as it is about documenting the lives of these incredible workers for generations to come

This photo-interview study was carried out by Serkan Çolak from the MahzenPhotos collective and the photographs taken by the master photographer Yusuf Tuvi in the 1990s.

Ağrı, İzmir / Turkey