The building of a new museum in Eskişehir, Turkey has not only provided a new contemporary landmark and exhibition space, but also a unique insight into the people involved in its construction. The beautifully crafted Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM) was designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates and opened in September 2019.
An overheard conversation between a passing couple and the site construction manager, Mehmet Akif, showed that he and his team saw the museum as more than just another job, as his knowledge and enthusiasm were both clearly evident. That was the start of The People Who Made OMM project, now completed in the form of a new photography book featuring black and white portraits alongside interviews with the workers who took part in the build.
Photographer Emilio Hope, better known for their work in the art and fashion field said, “The aim of our project was fairly simple – to give a face and a voice to the workers behind the museum. It wasn’t just important to create something beautiful aesthetically, we wanted to create something of social significance. OMM is a museum that was built by the community, for the community. Featuring workers who literally built the museum aligns with the ethos of OMM.”
Hearing the workers talk about the museum in the book gives a refreshing perspective on the creation of a building that will become a focal point in Eskişehir‘s culture and community.
Aydemir, Master Welder and Plasterer, speaking about his favourite exhibit:
“The artist used light and shadow beautifully. He paid a lot of attention to the minutiae. The pupils, the curls of the beard are all drawn with an attention to detail. I do charcoal drawings myself. I would like to meet the person who created this piece.”
Eşref, Finishing Foreman, on the museum build:
“It’s a wonderful project. I’ve been working in construction for 45 years and this is the first time that I’ve encountered such a lovely project. We began working on it with affection, and we’re completing it with devotion.”
The People Who Made OMM was published on 21st October 2020 and is available to purchase in English (limited edition run of 50) and Turkish (limited edition run of 1000) from the OMM Shop in Eskişehir and Minoa (Akaretler) in Istanbul.
Words by Siobhan
4th November 2020