Heartbreaking Side-by-Side Photos Juxtapose Western World with War-Torn Middle East

Digital Collage by Ugur Gallenkus

Istanbul-based artist Uğur Gallenkuş creates digital photo collages as a way to encourage social change in our often volatile world. Last year, he began placing side-by-side photographs depicting the relative safety and luxury of Western culture with the war-torn Middle East. The differences are as striking as they are heartbreaking. In his ongoing series, the West is shown as a place of consumerism and excess while people in countries like Syria are facing grave destruction and ultimately fighting to stay alive.

Gallenkuş believes that art transcends all languages. We can look at one of his images—like that of a child playing in sand for fun juxtaposed with a child living in dirt due to poverty—and instantly understand that while one population can simply frolic in nature's beauty, the other is struggling to survive each day. These digital collages can be hard to view, but they achieve the overall goal of Gallenkuş’ work—to raise awareness and awaken us to the injustices taking place near and far.

For even more eye-opening collages, follow Gallenkuş on his popular Instagram account.

Istanbul-based artist Uğur Gallenkuş creates heart-breaking juxtapositions of Western culture and the war-torn Middle East.

Digital Collage by Ugur GallenkusDigital Collage by Ugur GallenkusDigital Collage by Ugur Gallenkus

The ongoing series depicts how the West enjoys life's luxuries while the other part of the world faces extreme violence and destruction.

Digital Collage by Ugur GallenkusDigital Collage by Ugur Gallenkus

Each digital collage is a wakeup call, urging people to be aware of the duality of the world we all live in.

Digital Collage by Ugur GallenkusDigital Collage by Ugur Gallenkus

In addition to still images, Gallenkuş has recently started experimenting with videos:

A post shared by ugurgallen (@ugurgallen) on

Uğur Gallenkuş: Instagram | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Uğur Gallenkuş.

This article has been edited and updated.

Related Articles:

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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