Axel Braun - work and projects



Cave mansions, Hasankeyf, 2014

- - -

A case study for DISTURBED HARMONIES [Anthropocene Landscapes]

Do we build a house forever?
Do we make a home forever?
Do brothers divide an inheritance forever?
Do disputes prevail [in the land] forever?
Do rivers rise in floods forever?

Dragonflies drift downstream on a river,
their faces staring at the sun,
Then, suddenly, there is nothing.¹

The Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) is a scheme of more than
twenty dams in the catchment area of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
The most famous of the dams is Atatürk dam. Next to numerous
further points of criticism the scheme caused controversy because
of its geopolitical implications: the reservoirs entitle the Turkish
government to control significant parts of the drinking water supply
of the neighbouring countries Iraq and Syria.

Another reason for concern is the threat for the historical town
Hasankeyf that hosts architecture from medieval times as well as
large amounts of cave mansions that date back up to 10000 years.

Since the last unfinished facility in the scheme, Ilısu dam, has been
completed its reservoir has reached Hasankeyf in January 2020
according to Kurdish media. The small town is likely to be flooded
more than 30 metres high although it is situated about 70 km upstream
from the dam.

The flooding of the valley has been announced and postponed
repeatedly during the last decades – in 2014 it was announced for
the following year – thus the development of the structurally weak
region has been even more obstructed due to its uncertain future.

Supported by a step beyond travel grant of European Cultural Foundation,
Axel Braun visited the Tigris valley in 2014, as the Turkish government
had made announcements to flood the reservoir in the following year.

Starting with a quotation from the Epic of Gilgamesh, the project consists
of photo and video productions from a town and landscapes that are likely
to disappear in the near future, as well as statements of the inhabitants and
their fading hopes to eventually be spared from expropriation and resettlement.

- - -

¹Benjamin R. Foster, trans., The Epic of Gilgamesh, (1700 B.C.),
Tablet X, l. 307-314, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001), p. 82f