Realized with the support of Sabancı Holding, the exhibition Past Present Istanbul brings together works about Istanbul by 22 artist alumni from Sabancı University's Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design program.

Past Present Istanbul, opened its doors at Sakıp Sabancı Museum on Friday, September 3, 2021. The 22 exhibiting artists responded to the call of the artist Murat Germen, also an instructor at Sabancı University, all assessing Istanbul’s situation. The artists participating in the exhibition are Ahu Akgün, Aslı Narin, Begüm Yamanlar, Beril Ece Güler, Burak Dikilitaş, Canan Erbil, Cemre Yeşil Gönenli, Deniz Ezgi Sürek, Didem Erbaş, Ege Kanar, Eren Sulamacı, Eser Epözdemir, Korhan Karaoysal, Mekanda Adalet Derneği, Neslihan Koyuncu Bali, Nora Bryne, Onur Özen, Örsan Karakuş, Serkan Taycan, Sıla Ünlü İntepe, Sinan Tuncay, Zeynep Kaynar.

Site-specific works exhibited in the show involve interpretations of city dynamics in light of themes such as animal population, urban gentrification, social life, historical sites, water resources, transportation, and utopia/dystopia. Exhibited works were produced using a variety of mediums such as oil, drawing, installation, photography, video, and serigraphy.

In spite of setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions caused by total and partial lockdowns, many institutions and residents of Istanbul contributed to the production processes of the works, which deal with many places in the city.

Thanks to the collaboration between the social initiative Erişilebilir Her Şey (All That is Accessible), selected this year as part of the Sabancı Foundation Changemakers Program and Sakıp Sabancı Museum, the Past Present Istanbul exhibition is made accessible to individuals with visual and hearing impairments. The wall texts in the exhibition are available in sign language, and the visual descriptions of all the video pieces, installations, and images are provided as well. These descriptions also include the gallery plan, exhibition route, all accessible via QR codes, rendering the event accessible.

Past Present Istanbul is open between September 3 – November 28.

Selected Artworks



Ras(t)gele

Zeynep Kaynar,2021
7 monochrome serigraphic prints


Erect Istanbul

Sinan Tuncay,2021
Mixed media, site-specific installation


Animalium Istanbul

Sıla Ünlü İntepe,2021
Duo-channel video


Two Feet and Two Tires on Between Two Seas

Serkan Taycan,2021
Video projection


Haydarpaşa Railway Station

Örsan Karakuş,2021
Wall plaster with uncoated poster paper


Where is Istanbul?

Onur Özen,2021
Fine art photo-print


Now you can cross without touching

Nora Byrne,2021
Cardboard, found objects


sonopoeic compositions: 36’’00, 30’’06, 49’’50, 40’’29, 42’’59, 55’’34, 39’’01, 48’’11

Neslihan Koyuncu Bali,2021
Mixed media, metal profile floor plans


Skin-deep Legitimacy of Abandonment

Murat Germen,2021
25 colored chromogenic uncoated forex print, 50 chromogenic metallic coated print with white frames


Canal Istanbul: A Dystopia

Mekanda Adalet Derneği (MAD),2021


Istanbul: A Familiar Crowd

Korhan Karaoysal,2021
120 poster prints


Please Do Wash (Not Only Your Face) But Also Your Soul

Eser Epözdemir,2021
7-channel video projected on site-specific columns | 6’ 30’’ (average duration for each video)


Direct Landscape

Eren Sulamacı,2021
Single-channel video | 4’ 45’’


Vessel

Ege Kanar,2021
32 cymbals, contact speakers, sound cablesStereo sound band


Unhomely

Didem Erbaş,2021
Metal construction, silicone mold, sound installation (sound of waves), florescent lamp, PVC flooring, PVC transparent awning


Memento Mori

Deniz Ezgi Sürek,2021
Digital print, wallpaper


Dream & Fact —A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment

Cemre Yeşil Gönenli,2021
7 Fine Art photographic prints, 7 Diasec prints, 14 bulbs, 1 lightbox, 1 Dream & Fact Artist Book


Reminiscence

Canan Erbil,2021
Archival pigment print, Photo Rag Baryta print, epoxy resin cast


Metro

Burak Dikilitaş,2021
52 fine art prints on aluminium


-scape

Beril Ece Güler,2021
2-channel video | 2’ 23’’


When the Bosphorus Dries Up

Begüm Yamanlar,2021
3 archival pigment prints


Play as a form of resistance

Aslı Narin,2021
8 concrete columns, hula hoops, chalk on plaster


Vitaspirit

Ahu Akgün,2021
Oil on canvas


Ras(t)gele

Zeynep Kaynar

As her installation harbours visual records of diving experiences in the Bosphorus, Zeynep Kaynar refers to different dimensions of migration traffic within the ecosystems of Istanbul and the Marmara Sea, which facilitates a broad biodiversity thanks to the quality of its passageway. The conceptual frame of the work comprises the role of migration in terms of social and cultural diversity, as attributed by the artist. And the Turkish word “rastgele” whose spelling varies throughout history, basically refers to the wish of plenitude, and is part of the artist’s invitation to her audience to re-consider this richness and the differences within its diversifications.


Dik Yapı

Sinan Tuncay

With the model of a fictional life project, the artist gives his impressions of urban gentrification and social destruction via today’s construction industry. The project that he calls Erect Istanbul Life Complex, which harbors housing, culture-trade, and warship spaces, is presented to potential investors together with a real-estate brochure whose text seems to be written by the construction company. Contextualizing the framework of the project for future dwellers and users, and bearing some clues from its past, the text points to the tensions on which the construction is founded using dystopian elements.


Animalium Istanbul

Sıla Ünlü İntepe

With her work, a product of a long observation process, the artist investigates the transformation of animal habitats in Istanbul and its surroundings and the socio-biological interaction between non-human and human populations in the Anthropocene. The documentary, which is not limited to stray cats and dogs, covers many species that we don’t come across in our daily life. It traces the physiological and behavioral changes occurring in urbanized animals due to anthropogenic effects. Providing observational records and interviews focusing on urban transformation in a scientific and historical frame through two video channels, the work suggests an alternative to the conventional documentary form.


İki Deniz Arası'nda İki Ayak ve İki Teker

Serkan Taycan

The main axis of the video is the walking route, Between Two Seas, as conceived by Serkan Taycan in 2013 to advocate for natural life along the city’s periphery, created in defense of the common right to access the city, crossing from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. The route follows the planned line of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project. The artist presents his conversations with the urban geographer Jean-François Pérouse who uses walking as a research method, and with illustrator, writer, cyclist Aydan Çelik who explores the city periphery by cycling. Taycan   walked the route with Périouse and cycled it with Çelik. This body-based effort to investigate the transformation taking place along Istanbul’s periphery also suggests the slow, self-reflective, participative, nature-friendly, humble quality of walking and cycling, as an alternative to internalizing the space and towards an understanding of the world.


Haydarpaşa Garı

Örsan Karakuş

The artist scrutinizes the sense of numbness in response to the constant transformation of Istanbul via Haydarpaşa Railway Station, an iconic building in the city. The collage of photographs from different periods of the railway station also witnesses changes that have been taking place in its surroundings, which hosts a life in which the building has been at its core for long time. Designed by German architects Otto Ritter and Helmut Cuno in German Neo-Renaissance style, with the frame of the railway project extending towards Baghdad-Hedjaz, the monumental building was inaugurated in 1909. A very important hub for both inter and inner-city transportation networks, until recently the railway station functioned as a gate from Anatolia to Istanbul as well as the last stop of the suburban line connecting the Asian side of the city towards Gebze, while connecting to the European side via a cityline ferryboat. The building completely lost its connection to people after the fire that took place on November 8, 2010 and following privatization projects in the port area, in connection to suburban areas via Marmaray, and with the start of archaeological excavations in 2018.


İstanbul Nerede?

Onur Özen

Involving interviews with a group of people who left Istanbul to settle in Mount Ida near the city of Çanakkale, the work deals with the transformation of Istanbul via its witnesses. The interviews, mainly based on rural-urban comparisons, reflect the traces of this transformation through individual experiences. In those witnesses, we also observe the diversification of rural-urban distinctions as the result of developments such as unrestrained expansion, the emergence of new necessities in urban life, economic concerns, and changes in work habits.


Şimdi temassız geçebilirsiniz

Nora Byrne

Aiming to encourage viewers to examine, develop and diversify their own “urban imaginary” of Istanbul, this piece traces how certain structures and spatial designs may render political objectives visible. The development of an increasingly hierarchical urban design and the dominance of waterway projects in current infrastructural attempts in Istanbul inspire the artist to reflect on the visual cues that we encounter in our experience with the city’s bridges. The work develops a strong contrast and tension between the monumental bridges built in the last 50 years on the Bosphorus, and their smaller and historical antecedents on its natural harbor of the Golden Horn to show how differentiations of access can create varying understandings of the same space. The movement of the piece suggests that the urban imaginary exists, not as a fixed conception of the space, but as a dynamic and collective process that occurs in the space between our individual experiences.


yansıma kompozisyonları: 36’’00, 30’’06, 49’’50, 40’’29, 42’’59, 55’’34, 39’’01, 48’’11

Neslihan Koyuncu Bali

The balcony is an element appearing in Istanbul buildings designed by Levantine architects at the beginning of the 19th century. It gives clues about  emerging changes in the social life of the period. Today, balconies are generally not included in the plans of buildings renovated in the context of gentrification, a practice justified by earthquake instructions, so it is highly probable that in the long-run these platforms will become rare architectural elements. Based on balcony functions, as remembered once more during the pandemic and lockdowns, the installation transforms this outer space within the house first into a production space then an artwork. It combines compositions reflecting the outputs of sound/experiences from the balconies in the districts of Acıbadem, Kuzguncuk, Tepebaşı, Yeşilköy, Gümüşsuyu, Şile, and Moda and a sound piece broadcasted from a blind balcony installed in the exhibition space. Patterns that form the composition bear the sounds of a balcony in a gated community; of a French balcony with a concrete-city view; of a balcony looking down a main road, where one cannot sit for a long time; or a balcony looking over a Greek cemetery, where church bells can be heard, whereas the rhythm cages surrounding them depict the floor plans of the very balconies where sounds were recorded. The artist coined the word “sonopoeic” and based it on the compound name “onomatopoeic.” (a word sounding similar to the noise it refers to, such as “boom”, “pop”, etc.) She removed the first part, which presumably traces back to “onoma,” the Greek word for “name,” and replaced it with the prefix “sono,” originated from “sonus,” the Latin for “sound.”


Metrûkiyetin sathî meşrûiyeti

Murat Germen

The photo-installation bearing images of abandoned buildings from all around Istanbul departs from the word to “abandon,” which, in its original Turkish usage, i.e. “terk etmek,” has its roots in an outmoded Arabic word “metrukiyet,” which translates as abandonment in this title. The piece looks at the bifurcations in the cultural, architectural, and political history of Turkey, as caused by the act of abandoning. The work essentially consists of shots of buildings that were left compulsorily. According to the artist, there is a link between those spaces that were left behind due to political impositions, economic impasses or natural disasters, and the loss of memory. Looking for the traces of identity conflicts, controversies, and disagreements, this approach also points to the perils of unidirectional coerced development/transformation and the surrender of cultural pluralism for the sake of rent.


Kanal İstanbul: Bir Distopya

Mekanda Adalet Derneği (MAD)

The installation focuses on Istanbul’s spatial justice agenda just before major transformations, which will result from mega-projects and rapid housing development along the Küçükçekmece, Sazlıdere, and Terkos basins lying between the Marmara and the Black Sea coasts. In preparation for the installation, the field team has traveled along the land and seaway to record the present condition of the 45 km-long route. They identified problems such as forced displacement, ecosystem destruction, endangered water resources, adverse effects on agriculture and animal husbandry, overdevelopment, coastal filling and debris, the destruction of historical and natural heritage in conversation with local people, experts, and local authorities. The installation shows spatial asymmetries at the intersection of urban-rural, built-natural environment, human-non-human beings, mega-human scales with the satellite image of the region’s current status, a future projection based on map data, and sounds collected from the area. The Center for Spatial Justice was founded to live in fairer, more democratic, ecological urban and rural spaces, produce cross-disciplinary work, gather, accumulate, and share innovative, qualified, and public knowledge. Committed to the active participation of the disabled, children, older persons, immigrants, women, and local actors/organizations to the processes of the production of space in fulfilling the right to the city and environmental justice, the Center focuses on participatory design and educative practices, besides research, education, and advocacy activities. Warning: The visuals featured in this installation can trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.


İstanbul: Tanıdık Bir Kalabalık

Korhan Karaoysal

Istanbul: A Familiar Crowd consists of portrait photographs of about 100 people selected based on the only criteria of living in Istanbul. Sociologist Andrea Mubi Brighenti’s analogy between body/face and soil/city relations paves the way to represent the city for the artist. Brighenti points to the interconnected place between both the face and the city, as distinct from the bodies they are physically connected to. And the artist, thanks to the open-ended nature of his selection criteria, aims to chart this out on the faces of these people who randomly came together, integrating elements of their actual socio-psychological unity.


(Sadece Yüzünüzü Değil) Ruhunuzu da Yıkayınız

Eser Epözdemir

The video installation, which adapts the millennia of Istanbul’s relationship to water as a multi-dimensional weave, suggests that we glimpse the negotiation process between the city and its dwellers from this perspective. The narrative, investigating levels of conceptual realization, such as equality, justice, and the right to the city, aims to understand careless uses of urban water and the dimensions of its mid- and long-term impacts from the perspectives of a couple of disciplines such as history, medicine, archaeology, and geology, to name a few, within the frame of artistic creation. The installation focuses on contact points between water city life in light of water myths throughout the ages of the history of Istanbul, incorporating and aqueducts, hydraulic structures, water supply methods, water policies, hygiene, urban consciousness, and archaeological finds as referred by academicians and researchers. Intending to read our day via yesterday and touching on the sociological and religious significances of water in the societies where we once lived in Istanbul, a city which saw continuous settlement and that created many cultural strata, the work looks at what we have today.


Dolaysız Peyzaj

Eren Sulamacı

The video installation, which aims to visualize the political and financial elements of attempts at city planning. The piece focuses on the experiences of the citizens, as passively positioned in the face of this transformation. The work is based on the idea that the majority of metropolitan residents live their lives on an expansive and horizontal plane, and traces the transformation that is not entirely visible from this particular point of view. The political and socio-economic borders that emerged spontaneously because of the interventions in question or that were artificially implemented through methods such as gentrification are conveyed through the focal point of the emotional fluctuations they cause within the city.


Vasıta

Ege Kanar

An instrument used since the Bronze Ages, the history of cymbals in Istanbul dates back to the Armenian metal master Avedis I who lived in the city during the 17th century. Having produced his first cymbals in 1618 from a bronze alloy he obtained himself, Avedis was nicknamed “Zilciyan” by the Ottoman sultan Osman II, who also commissioned the master to make cymbals for the Janissary army. The production of cymbals thus launched in Istanbul later expanded into Europe and the USA in a course of events shaped by political, commercial, industrial, and cultural transformations. The recipe developed by Avedis and transmitted orally from father to son provides the core production method for the cymbals manufactured in the city today by certain brands. Handmade cymbals are crafted by thousands of hammer blows; each cymbal contains an implicit potential left from the complex processes that has created it, a unique harmonic character determined by the behavior of the master who fashioned it. Vessel is a site-specific installation that makes use of stimulators to transfer an audio composition back to the cymbals it was recorded with. When the sound waves feed back to these instruments, coinciding with the natural frequencies of the cymbals through physical contact, the cymbals are excited and begin to vibrate. These frequencies, which grasp certain cymbals, and stimulate them to resonate, create a kind of echo chamber in which notions of identity, past, materiality, tradition and geography become aligned and audible. The cymbals that are part of this installation were manufactured at the Istanbul Agop factory using traditional methods. They were marked as scrap due to the various visual or auditory defects that they have. When these cymbals return to the factory, they will be melted and added back to the alloy to make new ones.


İnsana Yuvasından Uzak

Didem Erbaş

The notion of “uncanny” (unheimlich) referring to eeriness of the once familiar, as employed by Sigmund Freud, serves as a guide for the work to explore the living conditions of immigrants and the homeless in Istanbul. The artist uses the necessity of sheltering in precarious and temporary structures, not being able to meet fundamental needs, and other such elements from the experiences of this group of people to present the tunnel-shelter model. The skin-colored silicone molds of pipe pieces are reminiscent of body pieces, pointing to the tension between inclining and refraining to touch. This tension also provides a way to follow the traces of the attempts to create temporary spaces in the city. The urban spaces where such structures are constructed are pointed to using the florescent lamp as the light source for the work and the sound installation.


Memento Mori

Deniz Ezgi Sürek

The Latin message "memento mori," meaning "remember that you are mortal," is a popular theme in 17th-century European painting. The purpose of these paintings is to remind people that worldly pleasures and beauty are temporary and that this world is a preparation for the next world. The composition, named after this theme in the history of art, aims to show humanity that it is not at the center of the ecological cycle, and that life can only be sustained in mutual dependence and balance. This work, in which we see only the traces of human beings, reminds the audience that they are mortal through this very preference.


Hayal & Hakikat —A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment

Cemre Yeşil Gönenli

Based on the artist’s book Dream & Fact: A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment (2020), the installation includes prisoner photographs from the albums of Abdulhamid II, who was known for his interest in both pho-tography and detective novels. He had ordered all murder convicts in the country to be photographed with their hands showing, in preparation for an amnesty he planned to issue on the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne. He had been moved by pseudo-scientific information he read in a crime novel that “any criminal with a thumb joint longer than the index finger joint, is inclined to mur-der.”  On the first wall of the installation (Hayal), we see the hands of the above-mentioned prisoners awaiting pardon; on the second wall (Hakikat), there are chained prisoners who are all sentenced to death—having nothing to do with the amnesty in question. The artist's choice to leave the heads of the prisoners out of the frame, as if they had been cut off by the guillotine, is an effort to give them a second chance at life, to restore their freedom, and perhaps to try to forgive them.  Furthermore, these photographs aim to examine oppressive practices and arbitrary arrest by building a bridge between the past and today, questioning no-tions of punishment and amnesty both on a personal and a societal level.


Yâdigâr

Canan Erbil

French art historian and writer André Malraux presented the notion of the “imaginary museum” in 1947, proposing that artworks that are imprisoned in museums can be reproduced through photography allowing, people to form their own personal museums. Artworks, which were produced at different times and by different techniques, were produced over and over again photographically to then be transformed into familiar images. The aforementioned concept, which charges the museums with multiple temporalities, is traced to cemeteries in Memento. Ayrılık Çeşmesi Cemetery, which was going to be turned into an open-air museum in the 1970s, but then was dislocated and damaged in the process; in 2013 the Marmaray line construction partially destroyed this cemetery. Through it, notions of send-offs, departures, remembrance, tribute, glorification, monumentalization, and forgetting are meant to be reconsidered.


Metro

Burak Dikilitaş

The artist draws a parallel between the ouroboros, a self-eating snake that symbolizes the cycle of birth and death in Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations, and the subway system. His series of photographs constitute a fictional urban landscape that is reminiscent of Istanbul. As the symbol of ouroboros evokes a sense of temporality that is sustained through repetition, the artist is able to question the relationship between what is real and what is close to the real through this background. Security systems, operation sites, closed doors and in-between spaces with unclean functions produce the main atmosphere of this work. In this story, the subway user is assumed to spend their lives in an infinite loop among the last ruins of an underground city that is “yet to come.”


-scape

Beril Ece Güler

The artist draws from her view on the contrasting quantity of the visual information one is subjected underground and aboveground; the work is named after the suffix “-scape” referring to the appearance or an image of a scene in English. Subway journeys, which offer a monotone visual experience due to their structure in which repetitive elements are dominant, are positioned directly opposite the crowd of images and symbols of the city within the scope of the work. According to the artist, the first impression obtained at the exit of the subway stations makes the abundance of visual data aboveground even more evident due to this difference in quantity. The artist, who recorded such moments during her own subway rides in detail, creates collages from these visual data. –scape first presents the chaotic environment of the subway station in the Ünalan district, located at the intersection of public transport stops, surrounded by skyscrapers and crowded roads in one of the most intense urban transformation areas. Then, there are images from the exit of the Bağlarbaşı district’s subway station, where a traditional neighborhood culture is sustained and architectural elements from different periods converge. The installation, in which the sounds of the city accompany videos, aims to encourage the audience to look at these districts from a different perspective.


Boğazın Suları Çekildiği Zaman

Begüm Yamanlar

The work, in which the Bosphorus landscapes of traveling photographers and painters who visited Istanbul in the 19th century are depicted again using contemporary technology, bears witness to the power of this natural structure to encompass values that are considered to be opposites, and the change it has experienced throughout history. The work, eponymous with a chapter from Orhan Pamuk's novel The Black Book, which depicts the image of the Bosphorus as the waters recede, also points to the layered meanings of sea landscapes in the context of art history and the sublime as attributed to nature. The connotations of the image in question for creation and destruction are re-evaluated in the context of the layered history and ecological transformation of the Bosphorus.


Bir Direniş Olarak Oyun

Aslı Narin

Making a comparison between the recent past and the present day in Istanbul, the installation aims to discuss the need for spaces of play and idleness in urban planning. Focusing on the last 15 years of changes in Ataköy, where the artist spent her childhood, Aslı Narin considers the shift from a structure that allowed games and encounters in this district to an understanding where the safety of the gated communities is prioritized as one of the reflections of the urban transformation in Istanbul. Constant Nieuwenhuys's connections between play, creativity, dynamic cities and freedom also determine the artist's utopian intervention in Istanbul. The work, which strives to contribute to the organic structuring of the city by enabling its inhabitants to take a more active role in shaping Istanbul and to have fun while doing so, suggests that the right to spend time freely and idly should be considered as critical for everyone, not just children.  


Vitaspirit

Ahu Akgün

Following themes she frequently explores in her works, such as personal encounters as well as events, objects or situations that we consider ordinary in daily life, the artist departs from a naval accident in her present work. The installation depicts the parties in the accident that resulted in the 225-meter-long carrier Vitaspirit shattering the 18th-century Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Mansion on April 7, 2018. This event marks a specific moment, which may break the routine and chain of habits, in line with the artist's general practice. The structure of the medium of painting, which excludes absolute data, removes the Vitaspirit case from being an ordinary accident and offers the possibilities of mythologizing in a way that includes the class-based and national connotations of the elements of the ship and the mansion.

Artworks Descriptions


Ras(t)gele

Zeynep Kaynar

As her installation harbours visual records of diving experiences in the Bosphorus, Zeynep Kaynar refers to different dimensions of migration traffic within the ecosystems of Istanbul and the Marmara Sea, which facilitates a broad biodiversity thanks to the quality of its passageway. The conceptual frame of the work comprises the role of migration in terms of social and cultural diversity, as attributed by the artist. And the Turkish word “rastgele” whose spelling varies throughout history, basically refers to the wish of plenitude, and is part of the artist’s invitation to her audience to re-consider this richness and the differences within its diversifications.

Dik Yapı

Sinan Tuncay

With the model of a fictional life project, the artist gives his impressions of urban gentrification and social destruction via today’s construction industry. The project that he calls Erect Istanbul Life Complex, which harbors housing, culture-trade, and warship spaces, is presented to potential investors together with a real-estate brochure whose text seems to be written by the construction company. Contextualizing the framework of the project for future dwellers and users, and bearing some clues from its past, the text points to the tensions on which the construction is founded using dystopian elements.

Animalium Istanbul

Sıla Ünlü İntepe

With her work, a product of a long observation process, the artist investigates the transformation of animal habitats in Istanbul and its surroundings and the socio-biological interaction between non-human and human populations in the Anthropocene. The documentary, which is not limited to stray cats and dogs, covers many species that we don’t come across in our daily life. It traces the physiological and behavioral changes occurring in urbanized animals due to anthropogenic effects. Providing observational records and interviews focusing on urban transformation in a scientific and historical frame through two video channels, the work suggests an alternative to the conventional documentary form.

İki Deniz Arası'nda İki Ayak ve İki Teker

Serkan Taycan

The main axis of the video is the walking route, Between Two Seas, as conceived by Serkan Taycan in 2013 to advocate for natural life along the city’s periphery, created in defense of the common right to access the city, crossing from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. The route follows the planned line of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project. The artist presents his conversations with the urban geographer Jean-François Pérouse who uses walking as a research method, and with illustrator, writer, cyclist Aydan Çelik who explores the city periphery by cycling. Taycan   walked the route with Périouse and cycled it with Çelik. This body-based effort to investigate the transformation taking place along Istanbul’s periphery also suggests the slow, self-reflective, participative, nature-friendly, humble quality of walking and cycling, as an alternative to internalizing the space and towards an understanding of the world.

Haydarpaşa Garı

Örsan Karakuş

The artist scrutinizes the sense of numbness in response to the constant transformation of Istanbul via Haydarpaşa Railway Station, an iconic building in the city. The collage of photographs from different periods of the railway station also witnesses changes that have been taking place in its surroundings, which hosts a life in which the building has been at its core for long time. Designed by German architects Otto Ritter and Helmut Cuno in German Neo-Renaissance style, with the frame of the railway project extending towards Baghdad-Hedjaz, the monumental building was inaugurated in 1909. A very important hub for both inter and inner-city transportation networks, until recently the railway station functioned as a gate from Anatolia to Istanbul as well as the last stop of the suburban line connecting the Asian side of the city towards Gebze, while connecting to the European side via a cityline ferryboat. The building completely lost its connection to people after the fire that took place on November 8, 2010 and following privatization projects in the port area, in connection to suburban areas via Marmaray, and with the start of archaeological excavations in 2018.

İstanbul Nerede?

Onur Özen

Involving interviews with a group of people who left Istanbul to settle in Mount Ida near the city of Çanakkale, the work deals with the transformation of Istanbul via its witnesses. The interviews, mainly based on rural-urban comparisons, reflect the traces of this transformation through individual experiences. In those witnesses, we also observe the diversification of rural-urban distinctions as the result of developments such as unrestrained expansion, the emergence of new necessities in urban life, economic concerns, and changes in work habits.

Şimdi temassız geçebilirsiniz

Nora Byrne

Aiming to encourage viewers to examine, develop and diversify their own “urban imaginary” of Istanbul, this piece traces how certain structures and spatial designs may render political objectives visible. The development of an increasingly hierarchical urban design and the dominance of waterway projects in current infrastructural attempts in Istanbul inspire the artist to reflect on the visual cues that we encounter in our experience with the city’s bridges. The work develops a strong contrast and tension between the monumental bridges built in the last 50 years on the Bosphorus, and their smaller and historical antecedents on its natural harbor of the Golden Horn to show how differentiations of access can create varying understandings of the same space. The movement of the piece suggests that the urban imaginary exists, not as a fixed conception of the space, but as a dynamic and collective process that occurs in the space between our individual experiences.

yansıma kompozisyonları: 36’’00, 30’’06, 49’’50, 40’’29, 42’’59, 55’’34, 39’’01, 48’’11

Neslihan Koyuncu Bali

The balcony is an element appearing in Istanbul buildings designed by Levantine architects at the beginning of the 19th century. It gives clues about  emerging changes in the social life of the period. Today, balconies are generally not included in the plans of buildings renovated in the context of gentrification, a practice justified by earthquake instructions, so it is highly probable that in the long-run these platforms will become rare architectural elements. Based on balcony functions, as remembered once more during the pandemic and lockdowns, the installation transforms this outer space within the house first into a production space then an artwork. It combines compositions reflecting the outputs of sound/experiences from the balconies in the districts of Acıbadem, Kuzguncuk, Tepebaşı, Yeşilköy, Gümüşsuyu, Şile, and Moda and a sound piece broadcasted from a blind balcony installed in the exhibition space. Patterns that form the composition bear the sounds of a balcony in a gated community; of a French balcony with a concrete-city view; of a balcony looking down a main road, where one cannot sit for a long time; or a balcony looking over a Greek cemetery, where church bells can be heard, whereas the rhythm cages surrounding them depict the floor plans of the very balconies where sounds were recorded. The artist coined the word “sonopoeic” and based it on the compound name “onomatopoeic.” (a word sounding similar to the noise it refers to, such as “boom”, “pop”, etc.) She removed the first part, which presumably traces back to “onoma,” the Greek word for “name,” and replaced it with the prefix “sono,” originated from “sonus,” the Latin for “sound.”

Metrûkiyetin sathî meşrûiyeti

Murat Germen

The photo-installation bearing images of abandoned buildings from all around Istanbul departs from the word to “abandon,” which, in its original Turkish usage, i.e. “terk etmek,” has its roots in an outmoded Arabic word “metrukiyet,” which translates as abandonment in this title. The piece looks at the bifurcations in the cultural, architectural, and political history of Turkey, as caused by the act of abandoning. The work essentially consists of shots of buildings that were left compulsorily. According to the artist, there is a link between those spaces that were left behind due to political impositions, economic impasses or natural disasters, and the loss of memory. Looking for the traces of identity conflicts, controversies, and disagreements, this approach also points to the perils of unidirectional coerced development/transformation and the surrender of cultural pluralism for the sake of rent.

Kanal İstanbul: Bir Distopya

Mekanda Adalet Derneği (MAD)

The installation focuses on Istanbul’s spatial justice agenda just before major transformations, which will result from mega-projects and rapid housing development along the Küçükçekmece, Sazlıdere, and Terkos basins lying between the Marmara and the Black Sea coasts. In preparation for the installation, the field team has traveled along the land and seaway to record the present condition of the 45 km-long route. They identified problems such as forced displacement, ecosystem destruction, endangered water resources, adverse effects on agriculture and animal husbandry, overdevelopment, coastal filling and debris, the destruction of historical and natural heritage in conversation with local people, experts, and local authorities. The installation shows spatial asymmetries at the intersection of urban-rural, built-natural environment, human-non-human beings, mega-human scales with the satellite image of the region’s current status, a future projection based on map data, and sounds collected from the area. The Center for Spatial Justice was founded to live in fairer, more democratic, ecological urban and rural spaces, produce cross-disciplinary work, gather, accumulate, and share innovative, qualified, and public knowledge. Committed to the active participation of the disabled, children, older persons, immigrants, women, and local actors/organizations to the processes of the production of space in fulfilling the right to the city and environmental justice, the Center focuses on participatory design and educative practices, besides research, education, and advocacy activities. Warning: The visuals featured in this installation can trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

İstanbul: Tanıdık Bir Kalabalık

Korhan Karaoysal

Istanbul: A Familiar Crowd consists of portrait photographs of about 100 people selected based on the only criteria of living in Istanbul. Sociologist Andrea Mubi Brighenti’s analogy between body/face and soil/city relations paves the way to represent the city for the artist. Brighenti points to the interconnected place between both the face and the city, as distinct from the bodies they are physically connected to. And the artist, thanks to the open-ended nature of his selection criteria, aims to chart this out on the faces of these people who randomly came together, integrating elements of their actual socio-psychological unity.

(Sadece Yüzünüzü Değil) Ruhunuzu da Yıkayınız

Eser Epözdemir

The video installation, which adapts the millennia of Istanbul’s relationship to water as a multi-dimensional weave, suggests that we glimpse the negotiation process between the city and its dwellers from this perspective. The narrative, investigating levels of conceptual realization, such as equality, justice, and the right to the city, aims to understand careless uses of urban water and the dimensions of its mid- and long-term impacts from the perspectives of a couple of disciplines such as history, medicine, archaeology, and geology, to name a few, within the frame of artistic creation. The installation focuses on contact points between water city life in light of water myths throughout the ages of the history of Istanbul, incorporating and aqueducts, hydraulic structures, water supply methods, water policies, hygiene, urban consciousness, and archaeological finds as referred by academicians and researchers. Intending to read our day via yesterday and touching on the sociological and religious significances of water in the societies where we once lived in Istanbul, a city which saw continuous settlement and that created many cultural strata, the work looks at what we have today.

Dolaysız Peyzaj

Eren Sulamacı

The video installation, which aims to visualize the political and financial elements of attempts at city planning. The piece focuses on the experiences of the citizens, as passively positioned in the face of this transformation. The work is based on the idea that the majority of metropolitan residents live their lives on an expansive and horizontal plane, and traces the transformation that is not entirely visible from this particular point of view. The political and socio-economic borders that emerged spontaneously because of the interventions in question or that were artificially implemented through methods such as gentrification are conveyed through the focal point of the emotional fluctuations they cause within the city.

Vasıta

Ege Kanar

An instrument used since the Bronze Ages, the history of cymbals in Istanbul dates back to the Armenian metal master Avedis I who lived in the city during the 17th century. Having produced his first cymbals in 1618 from a bronze alloy he obtained himself, Avedis was nicknamed “Zilciyan” by the Ottoman sultan Osman II, who also commissioned the master to make cymbals for the Janissary army. The production of cymbals thus launched in Istanbul later expanded into Europe and the USA in a course of events shaped by political, commercial, industrial, and cultural transformations. The recipe developed by Avedis and transmitted orally from father to son provides the core production method for the cymbals manufactured in the city today by certain brands. Handmade cymbals are crafted by thousands of hammer blows; each cymbal contains an implicit potential left from the complex processes that has created it, a unique harmonic character determined by the behavior of the master who fashioned it. Vessel is a site-specific installation that makes use of stimulators to transfer an audio composition back to the cymbals it was recorded with. When the sound waves feed back to these instruments, coinciding with the natural frequencies of the cymbals through physical contact, the cymbals are excited and begin to vibrate. These frequencies, which grasp certain cymbals, and stimulate them to resonate, create a kind of echo chamber in which notions of identity, past, materiality, tradition and geography become aligned and audible. The cymbals that are part of this installation were manufactured at the Istanbul Agop factory using traditional methods. They were marked as scrap due to the various visual or auditory defects that they have. When these cymbals return to the factory, they will be melted and added back to the alloy to make new ones.

İnsana Yuvasından Uzak

Didem Erbaş

The notion of “uncanny” (unheimlich) referring to eeriness of the once familiar, as employed by Sigmund Freud, serves as a guide for the work to explore the living conditions of immigrants and the homeless in Istanbul. The artist uses the necessity of sheltering in precarious and temporary structures, not being able to meet fundamental needs, and other such elements from the experiences of this group of people to present the tunnel-shelter model. The skin-colored silicone molds of pipe pieces are reminiscent of body pieces, pointing to the tension between inclining and refraining to touch. This tension also provides a way to follow the traces of the attempts to create temporary spaces in the city. The urban spaces where such structures are constructed are pointed to using the florescent lamp as the light source for the work and the sound installation.

Memento Mori

Deniz Ezgi Sürek

The Latin message "memento mori," meaning "remember that you are mortal," is a popular theme in 17th-century European painting. The purpose of these paintings is to remind people that worldly pleasures and beauty are temporary and that this world is a preparation for the next world. The composition, named after this theme in the history of art, aims to show humanity that it is not at the center of the ecological cycle, and that life can only be sustained in mutual dependence and balance. This work, in which we see only the traces of human beings, reminds the audience that they are mortal through this very preference.

Hayal & Hakikat —A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment

Cemre Yeşil Gönenli

Based on the artist’s book Dream & Fact: A Handbook of Forgiveness and A Handbook of Punishment (2020), the installation includes prisoner photographs from the albums of Abdulhamid II, who was known for his interest in both pho-tography and detective novels. He had ordered all murder convicts in the country to be photographed with their hands showing, in preparation for an amnesty he planned to issue on the 25th anniversary of his accession to the throne. He had been moved by pseudo-scientific information he read in a crime novel that “any criminal with a thumb joint longer than the index finger joint, is inclined to mur-der.”  On the first wall of the installation (Hayal), we see the hands of the above-mentioned prisoners awaiting pardon; on the second wall (Hakikat), there are chained prisoners who are all sentenced to death—having nothing to do with the amnesty in question. The artist's choice to leave the heads of the prisoners out of the frame, as if they had been cut off by the guillotine, is an effort to give them a second chance at life, to restore their freedom, and perhaps to try to forgive them.  Furthermore, these photographs aim to examine oppressive practices and arbitrary arrest by building a bridge between the past and today, questioning no-tions of punishment and amnesty both on a personal and a societal level.

Yâdigâr

Canan Erbil

French art historian and writer André Malraux presented the notion of the “imaginary museum” in 1947, proposing that artworks that are imprisoned in museums can be reproduced through photography allowing, people to form their own personal museums. Artworks, which were produced at different times and by different techniques, were produced over and over again photographically to then be transformed into familiar images. The aforementioned concept, which charges the museums with multiple temporalities, is traced to cemeteries in Memento. Ayrılık Çeşmesi Cemetery, which was going to be turned into an open-air museum in the 1970s, but then was dislocated and damaged in the process; in 2013 the Marmaray line construction partially destroyed this cemetery. Through it, notions of send-offs, departures, remembrance, tribute, glorification, monumentalization, and forgetting are meant to be reconsidered.

Metro

Burak Dikilitaş

The artist draws a parallel between the ouroboros, a self-eating snake that symbolizes the cycle of birth and death in Ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations, and the subway system. His series of photographs constitute a fictional urban landscape that is reminiscent of Istanbul. As the symbol of ouroboros evokes a sense of temporality that is sustained through repetition, the artist is able to question the relationship between what is real and what is close to the real through this background. Security systems, operation sites, closed doors and in-between spaces with unclean functions produce the main atmosphere of this work. In this story, the subway user is assumed to spend their lives in an infinite loop among the last ruins of an underground city that is “yet to come.”

-scape

Beril Ece Güler

The artist draws from her view on the contrasting quantity of the visual information one is subjected underground and aboveground; the work is named after the suffix “-scape” referring to the appearance or an image of a scene in English. Subway journeys, which offer a monotone visual experience due to their structure in which repetitive elements are dominant, are positioned directly opposite the crowd of images and symbols of the city within the scope of the work. According to the artist, the first impression obtained at the exit of the subway stations makes the abundance of visual data aboveground even more evident due to this difference in quantity. The artist, who recorded such moments during her own subway rides in detail, creates collages from these visual data. –scape first presents the chaotic environment of the subway station in the Ünalan district, located at the intersection of public transport stops, surrounded by skyscrapers and crowded roads in one of the most intense urban transformation areas. Then, there are images from the exit of the Bağlarbaşı district’s subway station, where a traditional neighborhood culture is sustained and architectural elements from different periods converge. The installation, in which the sounds of the city accompany videos, aims to encourage the audience to look at these districts from a different perspective.

Boğazın Suları Çekildiği Zaman

Begüm Yamanlar

The work, in which the Bosphorus landscapes of traveling photographers and painters who visited Istanbul in the 19th century are depicted again using contemporary technology, bears witness to the power of this natural structure to encompass values that are considered to be opposites, and the change it has experienced throughout history. The work, eponymous with a chapter from Orhan Pamuk's novel The Black Book, which depicts the image of the Bosphorus as the waters recede, also points to the layered meanings of sea landscapes in the context of art history and the sublime as attributed to nature. The connotations of the image in question for creation and destruction are re-evaluated in the context of the layered history and ecological transformation of the Bosphorus.

Bir Direniş Olarak Oyun

Aslı Narin

Making a comparison between the recent past and the present day in Istanbul, the installation aims to discuss the need for spaces of play and idleness in urban planning. Focusing on the last 15 years of changes in Ataköy, where the artist spent her childhood, Aslı Narin considers the shift from a structure that allowed games and encounters in this district to an understanding where the safety of the gated communities is prioritized as one of the reflections of the urban transformation in Istanbul. Constant Nieuwenhuys's connections between play, creativity, dynamic cities and freedom also determine the artist's utopian intervention in Istanbul. The work, which strives to contribute to the organic structuring of the city by enabling its inhabitants to take a more active role in shaping Istanbul and to have fun while doing so, suggests that the right to spend time freely and idly should be considered as critical for everyone, not just children.  

Vitaspirit

Ahu Akgün

Following themes she frequently explores in her works, such as personal encounters as well as events, objects or situations that we consider ordinary in daily life, the artist departs from a naval accident in her present work. The installation depicts the parties in the accident that resulted in the 225-meter-long carrier Vitaspirit shattering the 18th-century Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Mansion on April 7, 2018. This event marks a specific moment, which may break the routine and chain of habits, in line with the artist's general practice. The structure of the medium of painting, which excludes absolute data, removes the Vitaspirit case from being an ordinary accident and offers the possibilities of mythologizing in a way that includes the class-based and national connotations of the elements of the ship and the mansion.

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