"Dreams of the Future” Lands in Istanbul Airport

“Dreams of the Future’ photography exhibition at Istanbul Airport.


26 December 2019

Friendship, hope, happiness, the future, how might you present any of these concepts in a single image?

On the 18th of December 2019, a photography exhibition opened in the Istanbul Airport, showcasing photos taken by sixty Turkish and Syrian adolescents. The exhibition demonstrates the positive impact of access to education and social engagement opportunities on the daily lives of young people and promotes peaceful coexistence between refugees and host communities.

Entitled “Dreams of the Future,” the exhibition will continue for one month at the international departure hall of the Istanbul Airport. The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Minister of Youth and Sports of Turkey, Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey, the photographer Reza and Mr. Kadri Samsunlu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Istanbul Airport, and featured the active participation of the sixty two young photographers. It is estimated that around 6 million people will see the exhibition over the next four weeks.

Addressing the high-level participants during the opening ceremony, Nazlıcan Erdogdu, 17, a Turkish participant in the photography project reflected on how this experience changed her perception of refugees saying, “At the beginning of the project, I didn’t know how we can get along together as we come from different countries and backgrounds. The great experience we went through together to learn how to express ourselves through the camera made us realize that what unites us is much more than what separates us. Borders are meaningless when you are trying to express how you feel through photography.”

“Dreams of the Future’ photography exhibition at Istanbul Airport.
Ibrahim Hassan (left) and Nazilcan ERDOĞDU (right) giving their speech during the opening ceremony of “Dreams of the Future” photography exhibition at Istanbul airport.
Dr. Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Minister of Youth and Sports of Turkey, Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey and Mr. Kadri Samsunlu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Istanbul Airport with the young photographers holding their recognition certificates during the launch event of the “Dreams of the Future” photography exhibition at Istanbul Airport.

The exhibition reflects the dreams and realities of both Turkish and Syrian youth, through the photos of sixty-two adolescents who participated in the “Youth Lens” project. Youth Lens was launched in 2018 and provided photography training to Turkish and Syrian young people from, Gaziantep, Istanbul and Izmir. Over four months, 62 boys and girls aged 11 to 18, were introduced to image storytelling by the renowned photographer Reza and a team of local trainers.

Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Turkey declared: “This exhibition gives us a glimpse of how children and adolescents see their current reality and the dreams they have for the future. Education is essential for them to realize their dreams and successfully integrate society. The Youth Lens project is an illustration of this, and I am grateful that the partnership developed between UNICEF, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Reza, could produce such an impressive result. I also wish to thank the EU for their financial support to this programme as well as the Istanbul Airport for hosting the Dreams of the Future exhibition and providing an opportunity for passengers from all around the world to admire the work of the young photographers. “

Gelecek Düşleri” İstanbul Havalimanı’na İndi
A flower sprouting from a crack in a tree.

Ibrahim Hassan, 16, a Syrian student in the Youth Lens project shared his experience with the participants during the opening event, explaining, “War can leave scars that are hard to heal, and it is even harder when you can’t express this hurt. I am grateful to be part of this project as it gave me the opportunity to show the world what I see and touch other people’s lives. “

During his speech Dr. Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu said “Our brothers that we host and our country's youth immortalized their "Future Dreams" within the scope of our Social Cohesion Project. This project is not only a partnership on paper, it is also a partnership from the heart. You exhibited one of the most beautiful representations of sharing, supporting a common purpose and brotherhood. We are proud of you.”

“Dreams of the Future’ photography exhibition at Istanbul Airport.
A woman admiring the Bosphorus while her hair is flying in the wind.
A group of Youth Lens students during Paris photography exhibition; (left-right) Muhammed Alaaeddin, Gulmira Doga Gul, Yasemin Masri, Bahaddin Mohamad, Aydanur Busa, Furkan Uygun.

The Project

The Youth Lens project was launched in 2018 aiming to train 62 Syrian and Turkish from Gaziantep, Istanbul and Izmir in the language of images.

The young photographers, aged 11 to 18, were introduced to image storytelling by the photographer Reza and local trainers. Workshops took place in the three cities, first led by Reza and then under the supervision of local trainers. Students learned the tools of

photography and became familiar with visual narration to tell their dreams and realities through the power of images. They explored specific themes, then shared various aspects of their lives through photographs.

The youth lens participants, gathered around a common project, learned to engage with each other and their community, thus contributing to social cohesion. The project shows how young people can be positive agents of change, building bridges between people and among communities.

Youth Lens was implemented under a close partnership between the Ministry of Youth and Sports, UNICEF and Reza with the financial support of the European Union.

The Exhibitions

Under the title “Dreams of the Future”, four exhibitions were organized at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council in Paris; at UNICEF House in New York; at Cer Modern arts centre in Ankara and at the Istanbul Airport. The images displayed at these exhibitions were selections from a wider body of photographs taken by 62 Turkish and Syrian adolescents living in Turkey, telling their stories to the world.