Flower girl, Hasan Keyif, 2008 © Ahmet Polat
In his new project, Kemal’s Dream, photographer Ahmet Polat (NL,1978) focuses on young people in present-day Turkey. The life of the most recent generation of Turks in this still-young democracy is determined to a large degree by the clash between tradition and modernity, and between religion and secularism. Many Turkish families still lead traditional lives; yet, a more individualistic and Western lifestyle also has appeal. For many young people, this produces an inner conflict that typifies the entire Republic of Turkey. Since the establishment of the republic by Kemal Atatürk in 1923, Turkey has been marked by a dualism that is often reduced to a struggle between East and West. The complex political debate surrounding Turkey’s EU membership intensifies this internal struggle and makes the search for its own identity extremely topical. As the son of a Dutch mother and a Turkish father, Polat recognized these issues and decided to document this essential process as reflected in his own generation.