Krisztina ERDEI


photography, 2009-2020

In 2009 I was a goat shepherd in Turkey. When I set off for a remote village on a morning in early October, I did not know how I would be a useful temporal member of an economic, but most of all, lifestyle community formed by a group of young people withdrawn from society. There was no smartphone yet, and when I asked about the village, the employees of the public transport company were just shaking their heads. From Izmir I took a bus to Menemen and then a minibus to Belen. At a junction, they showed me the way to Haykiran. I was advised that when a car comes, I should not be afraid to stop it. After half-an-hour walk in the blazing sun, a car came, I waved, it stopped and the driver asked me where I was going. His eyes lit up as I mentioned Turgutlar Köyü’s name, but he said he was only going to Çukurköy. I told him it didn’t matter, I can manage from there.

Arriving in Çukurköy, we stopped at the centre. They showed me the store, told me to buy a few things, because it was near and far the last store, as the village I was headed to is off the map. I made some purchases and then called the phone number I received from a friend. Ismail, one of the founders, picked up and said he was coming for me in half an hour. Until then, I sat in the nearby pub, where the amazed eyes soon became accustomed to my presence.

The project Imece Evi saved an almost extinct village from total destruction. The new owners fell in love with the isolated, wild environment where there was only one elderly couple left of the villagers. Crumbling buildings and their land have been bought to reach out to people who are open to alternative lifestyles and to provide them with active but unusual activities. Visitors can spend a minimum of two weeks in the village, where they must do the work that is appropriate to their abilities and professional knowledge. At the first meeting, we agreed that I would do the work of a goat herd for the next month. I liked the job because I had to work twice a day for a relatively short time. The goats had to be driven out of the shed at sunrise and sunset, walked on the top of the mountain, and then driven back. The first two days I had a master then I had to manage alone. On a few occasions the animals went astray, but basically listened to my command. For the rest of the day, I roamed the surrounding mountains without paths stopping at waterfalls and rocks, dodging animal skulls, hiding from wild horses. From the third day on, I woke up at daybreak and did my job. A month later, a Polish architect student took over the flock from me.

The installation evokes the time structure of my goat shepherd days to interpret the framework of my current work. At the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, I work from morning to evening, so from the perspective of a goat shepherd, now sunrise and sunset are my days.

Krisztina Erdei

Photo: ROSTA József © Ludwig Múzeum – Kortárs Művészeti Múzeum