A Hundred Thousand Faces

Don’t be surprised if the Yüz Bin Yüz (A Hundred Thousand Faces) team approach you one of these days and ask to take your picture against a white backdrop. Just smile...

They have photographed some three thousand people in the last five years, and the ‘Yüz Bin Yüz’ team is aiming to bring that number up to a hundred thousand in the next five. The ultimate objective of the 6-person team is to create an archive of 21st century people. “Let us take portraits,” they say in short. “Unusual, full-length, black-and-white portraits only of people, nothing else. Their stance, their look, their smile, their clothing, their bags and accessories... Then let’s take those photos to other countries and cities and stage street exhibitions. Let us introduce people to people.” The purpose is to depict people, to themselves and to others. Because, as it says on their web page, “People recognize themselves only in people.” (Goethe)

What is important for the team is to gather as much visual data as possible about the people of this age. Years later perhaps someone will look at the archive and get an idea of what the people of that ‘old’ time looked like. The archive also includes brief voice recordings of personal data about the people photographed and video images recorded during the shooting phase. What’s more, the voice of every person photographed will also be translated into its musical equivalent, in other words, musical notation. As you might surmise, in addition to photographers, the team also includes a sociologist, a musician and a filmmaker.

The Yüz Bin Yüz team started out close to home. They set up a white backdrop in the parking lot just below their office and clicked their shutter at whoever passed by. Everybody from the grocer and the fruit and vegetable man to the street vendor and the litter collector, even painters and musicians. And they produced a comprehensive profile of Beyoğlu. Then they branched out to other parts of Istanbul, from the Sirkeci Photographers’ Guild and the Beyoğlu Fire Department to Turkish Radio and Television’s Istanbul Studios and the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. They photographed everybody at each institution they visited, from the person mailing a letter and a courier getting ready to leave on a job to the janitor, the tea lady and the CEO.

And now it’s Turkey’s turn. The team are going to visit all the country’s regions and cities one by one and record them in photographs. At the same time they are in contact with 27 European capitals, where they hope to hold simultaneous street exhibitions to introduce the people of Turkey in full-length portraits. The rest will follow automatically: photographing the people of Europe and of the world until they hit a hundred thousand.