Khamra is Arabic for wine, often used in Sufi poetry as a metaphor for the ecstatic loss of self in the yearning for God. I set out in Istanbul to shoot 24 rolls of film in 24 hours in a quest to lose myself at the same time as I discovered a living, breathing city going through a single day of its long life.
This is my first major, epic work. Bourne out of a longstanding existential need to explore life in the Islamic cultural sphere and dispel media images of constant conflict, I followed a spiritual path to shoot this work. In 24 hours, 36 shots per hour, more than one photo every two minutes, there is no chance to allow preconceived narratives guide the work. Instead, it becomes an act of reacting, allowing the self to be honest, confessional. There is an ecstacy in the work, and the reader can watch the creative process as ideas build from minor photographs to major pieces. Energy ebbs and flows through the course of the afternoon, the long night, and the morning.
In the time that has passed since this work was created, I have returned to Istanbul, and I see now how much it has changed physically and psychologically. This work is now also an important document of a time in Istanbul when it was a little more free, as political forces in the ruling AK Party have since consolidated power and waged war.
These photographs are choice pieces in the series of around 800. I encourage the interested reader to enjoy the series as a whole on exposure.
© 2017 Jon Michael Anzalone