(The photographs in the three-part post will appear in the portfolio section upon the completion of the series.)
Left unkempt, devoid of basic maintenance, a lack of general respect for preservation can turn a structure into a crumbling ruin in short order. I became acutely aware how quickly solid structures could decay when I visited a couple of sites in Ayvalik. I am grateful for receiving the permission from the mayor’s office to wander around the old Kirlangiç olive oil factory, explore, and photograph one of the iconic structures in Ayvalik. A section of the complex is used by a branch of the municipal offices where I met Mr. Ali Akdamar, the art and culture consultant, who approved my request to photograph the decaying structures. He asked me specifically to refrain from publishing the photographs for about a month or so since they had applied for some funds to convert the old structure into a cultural center. That was the best news I had heard about the place and, as promised, I have not published any photographs until this post. I sure hope they have secured financing to convert the place to a cultural center. Ayvalik will undoubtedly benefit from that.
Built on the shores of the Aegean Sea, the old and mostly abandoned Kirlangiç olive oil factory still maintained a certain level of dignity despite the obvious neglect and ill repair. It opened up its space and bared its emptiness to me in a touching but honest way. The entire complex appealed to me as a photographic project, I wanted to photograph it to tell the story of its current state. As I slowly walked around the first building, I saw a longer white building paralleling the one in front. An old rowboat laid against the tired wall, in the same state of decay, down to its ribs. On the left, a tower-like structure soared to the sky and terminated a brick building that ran vertical to the long white building which seemed to serve like a dry-dock to the ghost of a boat.
The large opening at the ground level of the brick building, most likely a doorway with missing doors, revealed a large hall. Through its windows I could see the Aegean Sea. Inside, the empty and spacious hall appeared strangely inviting, I felt comfortable being there despite the desolate and run down state that was evident all around. As I stepped back to the yard, a large dog came out from the same opening, walked by me and into another opening ahead, totally ignoring my presence. I gave it the name “The Lord of the Rubble” as it seemed to own the place. The gateway, the short tunnel, where the dog disappeared was part of a smaller structure attached to the long white building mentioned earlier. I followed after the dog, but I could not see it anywhere. As I walked towards the next row of buildings, I went through another opening with a strange, narrow, double door panels hanging overhead. They must have functioned in some way before but now they stood like a visual riddle.
On the other side, the iconic building with its two level roof structure greeted me with its head up, worn, but dignified. (To be continued)