Postcard from Istanbul from :

The Apocalypse of Istanbul

I am in Istanbul, experimenting with a new project. It’s long and difficult to explain but it goes along the lines of: some human settlements (for example the megapolis Istanbul, located in one of the earth’s most active seismic areas) are built in a way or at a place that is prone to destruction of apocalyptic dimensions. Global change made more humans settle in improper places and accumulate more possessions and assets than ever before, multiplying the hazard. We know that most of the houses in Istanbul won’t stand any more in 50 or 100 years – either because they were replaced by quake proof constructions or because they were ruined by an earth quake. Seismologists say the risk of a 7.6-magnitude earthquake striking Istanbul by 2030 is seventy percent. Worst-case scenarios see 40 percent hit by an earthquake with 5 million people affected. Best case scenarios see ‘only’ 10’000 houses collapse and 1.5 million people affected.

Photographically and morally, it is a difficult topic to work on. Nobody wants, e.g., take portraits of people that live in a building that is classified as highly earthquake vulnerable. Since I arrived first in Istanbul, I was thinking of how to include the sure quake in my work on Istanbul. Now, some years later, I schemed a project on the evident apocalypse of Istanbul. (I’ll keep you updated as things develop.)



  1. oskar says:

    This sounds very creepy, but in a thrilling way. It’ll be interesting to watch you elaborate this theme of secularized, “science-based” end times anticipation, especially since religious/fundamentalist end times anticipation probably relies on the same kind of data (or a vulgarized version of it) you do. Also, how will you avoid the supremacist fantasies immanent in apocalypse narratives? I wish we could have beers over this soon…

  2. Claudius says:

    oh yes, beer, beer. where?
    I’m not sure if I’ll try to avoid these fantasies or whether these Armageddon fantasies are exactly what will make the project work. We will see…

  3. mehmet ercan says:

    hi claus,

    interesting coincidence, i am writing an exposé for my professors to get into
    phd programm of turcology/ethnology departments in berlin free university where i finish in two weeks my master studies.
    one of my exposé ideas is about the potential risk of an eartquake in istanbul till 2030 and the “land attachment” feelings of the inhabitants. i did my bachelor in istanbul, at a film school. so i try to convince my professors to do my phd thesis partly as an ethnographic film… would be nice to meet with you, in berlin or in istanbul, once i am done with my last exam and the application fuss.

    liebe grüße aus berlin 🙂

  4. […] current project, Apocalypse, is a long and multi-faceted documentary project. I look at foreshadow of a mega-earthquake that scientist expect to hit Istanbul in the near future. I investigate architecture designed to […]

  5. […] always strived to find the world that lies below the surfaces of ordinary life. Yet, working on my Apocalypse cycle, I seem to become an ‘advocacy […]

  6. […] always strived to find the world that lies below the surfaces of ordinary life. Yet, working on my Apocalypse cycle, I seem to become an ‘advocacy […]