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This review was originally published on LFI - Leica Fotografie International.

by Ulrich Rüter

A scene from a video shooting in Berlin, where a group of gender-nonconforming, trans* and queer refugee and asylum-seeking artists reenacts their arrival in Germany.
Reenactment of an Arrival, 2019. Credit: Samet Durgun

The title of this wonderful photo book represents a promise, promises hope. The photographer adopted it from a house pop song by the Swedish singer Robyn. Yet, however softly and melodically the song might caress the ear, and however strongly the driving rhythm, in particular, may stand for a certain attitude to life in Berlin today, it still only reflects a superficial side of everyday reality in the metropolis. Among the overlooked, and often hidden, aspects of Berlin are the fates of refugees and asylum seekers living there who do not belong to the heterosexual majority of society. Durgun’s picture series delivers a strong statement for this community. Berlin thrives on its reputation of great freedom and individual lifestyles, despite the existential challenges that emerge for some – at the very least, when looking for an apartment or a job. After all, the city is home to one of the few accommodations for LGBTQIA+ refugee and asylum seekers in Europe. It was within this community that the photographer began his photographic series, portraying people who define themselves as lesbian, gay, queer, bi-, trans-, inter- or asexual.

Durgun and his camera found a very immediate, direct and intimate approach. The photographer's opening question was: “How would it be if photography was more about hearing, than seeing?” He took his time, followed daily life, and attended parties, rituals and gatherings. He became a familiar face; someone who did not focus on suffering, repression or voyeuristic displays. Instead, he accompanied those portrayed along their way and to their places of refuge in Berlin, with respect and friendship; while reporting, quite naturally, on the emancipation and individuality expressed. Durgun explains: “I have great respect for people whose identities are so complex. The struggles and power of opposition they experience become invisible to those who have access to everything they do not have: a family, a job, education, physical and mental security, a voice, or wealth.” His series takes an empathetic look at his friends and acquaintances, allowing them to step out of invisibility and reveal their strength and courage to face life. It offers hope to all those who seek a safe future and home in Berlin.

The photographer portrays his protagonists with plenty of free space. Often using narrow excerpts, he allows them to look self-confidently into the camera, placing them in their daily lives within perfect lighting and colour schemes. Impressions of urban settings appear, from time to time, in between the portraits. Severe architecture and rough street scenes, but also poetic backyard oases, become images that symbolise the mega-city's diversity and reveal unexpected discoveries, behind its many facades. In an opening essay, Marianne Ager, Curator for Photography at the Brandts Art Museum in Odense, Denmark, compares Durgun's work to photographs by Christer Strömholm and Nan Goldin, whose works also document important chapters in the stories of marginalised groups. Durgun belongs to a new and contemporary generation. This book represents a successful starting point. (Ulrich Rüter)

Samet Durgun: Come Get Your Honey

With essays by Amrou Al-Kadhi and Marianne Ager, as well as an interview with the photographer by Prince Emrah.

144 pages; 75 colour pictures. 19 x 24 cm, English.


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