Urban-photography as salvation: Dubai and Hong Kong by Apo Genc

03 jul, 2021


What does the word ‘city’ mean to you? For someone it means a career, success and achievement. For the other - it is a comfortable life or maybe a necessary evil when all he wants is a quick weekend getaway to nature. Turkish photographer Apo Genc, for example, sees the city as his shelter. But what does he hide from?


Talented urban photographer Apo Genc was born in Turkey in 1983 and grew up in Germany. He graduated Christian-Albrechts University (CAU, Kiel, Germany) with Magister Artium in Modern German Literature, Psychology and Sociology in 2012. He became interested in photography in 2008 when he got fascinated and inspired by all the things he had to study during his time at the university. ‘With a strong sense for visual themes that I had since my childhood I thought I would give it a try to build my own visual worlds’. Later in 2013 he started working as a professional videographer for a video agency in Kiel, Germany.

‘Inspiration for me is one of the most important sources of motivation. Yes, I have discovered that my passion for photography quickly became a very important part of my personality. A part I could not imagine my life without. In photography I found a tool to channel my fascination, emotions, thoughts and whatever else is in me to the outside and to express myself in my own way, which is at times more direct and unambiguous than my own literal language’ - says Apo.

So what is the source of his inspiration? Currently he is deeply fascinated by the incredible work of Reuben Wu. But that is not all. He is inspired by everything that surrounds him. It is exactly like Jim Jarmusch once described: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to’.”

Following Jim Jarmusch’s idea, Apo doesn’t believe in different styles of photography. His aim is to evolve.

‘It would be sad if I do the same thing for the next 40 years. At this moment I am fascinated with colorful cityscapes that capture the spirit of the place within its shape and light. But that could completely change in the next years,’ - summarizes Apo.

Talking about his series Dimensions of Urban Aesthetics, Gens said: ‘I have never felt salvation in nature. I love cities above all - this, or something like this, was once said by Michelangelo. And those words express exactly how I feel. I can't help but wonder: how would he feel if he'd been given the opportunity to climb Hong Kong's Victoria Peak and find a panorama at his feet that, by the mere power of its uniqueness, emanates grandeur from its every corner, however small it may be? It is not without good reason that Hong Kong, with its urban aesthetics, is titled the world's most vertical city. Maybe Michelangelo would just hold still: silent, amazed and savoring. Sometimes it is silence that gives thoughts and emotions an expression when words are not enough. As is the case of the visual magnificence of this sight . And this is something I experience quite frequently.

Oftentimes I ask myself where this personal fascination with artificial worlds may come from, where its source lies within me. A fascination that incites me to claim, if not assess: Yes, I am a dreamer. For often I catch myself drifting away, envisioning a similar world made up of chosen ingredients, in which I mentally take refuge: city. Perfectly formed. Buildings, in their entity forming an optical symbiosis that is even more beautiful. Day. Dusk. Night. Silence. Water. Passing clouds. Atmosphere. Light and shade. Luminescent colors and nocturnal lights contributing the bare essentials to breathe soul into this ensemble. And me, standing right in the middle of it’.

Driven by the desire to look beyond his own ‘backyards’ of Kiel and Istanbul and by the quest for new inspiration, Genc embarked on a journey to Hong Kong and Dubai in 2012. 

‘My gut decision to visit these cities did not disappoint me. What I came upon was not just breathtaking like my day at Victoria Peak, it is also terrifying to stand in front of a building as tall as the Burj Kalifa. That is: plenty of intuitive moments of urban inspiration. And the camera as a tool and an outlet to express those emotions through pictures’.

Website: www.apogenc.de
Behance: https://www.behance.net/gencabdullah
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abdullah.apo.genc