John Toohey Istambul Kars return

The Dogu Ekspresi leaves Istanbul at 8:30 in the morning and arrives at Kars on the border with Armenia about 8:30 the next evening. For thirty six hours it trundles the length of Anatolia. Geographically speaking, it leaves the coastal plains of the Marmara, rises to the Anatolian Plateau, enters the Taurus Mountains and descends to the steppe that stretches across to Siberia. Economically it is a journey into progressively declining wealth. So much for the science. The train crosses territories once claimed by Greeks, Kurds, Armenians, Georgians and Russians, and we can go back further, to Lydians, Assyrians and Scythians. They have all left their mark in one way or another.
There is no wilderness in Turkey. Desolate and isolated mountainsides are scarred by roads and small villages are scattered everywhere, most bypassed by the power lines running alongside the railway. To photograph the landscape without including the human intervention would be dishonest, but worse it would miss the point. This is not a photographic essay on how people have tamed nature but, if anything, how, over centuries, they have learned to live within it, damaging it for sure but also becoming absorbed into it.

All images © courtesy of John Toohey

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