Nothing is as emotionally confusing as looking at images of a city pre-lockdown. On the one hand, it’s nice to reflect on the days when large gatherings were a thing, people were out at markets, playing in the streets, and just generally going about their lives. It reminds us that “normal” wasn’t so long ago and gives us hope that it will return one day soon. On the other hand, it shows us what we’re missing. These memories are glimpses into a time we took for granted and a world that may never be the same again. That’s why this video of Istanbul, created by Hasan ilkay Özduman, is truly a rollercoaster.
The video juxtaposes shots of pre-lockdown Istanbul — when city life went on as normal — with images of the currently empty streets. It begins by showing life in lockdown-era Istanbul, defined by absence more than anything else. Streets and parks are empty, the river is calm, and even the Hagia Sophia is deserted. It’s a scene we’re all too familiar with in our own communities.
Then the video shifts, showing scenes from a pre-lockdown Istanbul. People stroll down narrow streets, shop in crowded markets, and fish off busy piers. In the pre-COVID era, these shots would look mundane and unextraordinary. Right now, to a world confined by travel restrictions and social distancing measures, they’re like scenes from a utopia.
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