The Shaping of Public Space: Street Art in Istanbul
Within the Gezi Park protests, the penguin became a powerful symbol visible all over Istanbul. This happened after the Turkish TV broadcasted a documentary about penguins instead of reporting on the protests. At that time, dozens of symbols, tags, murals etc. were expressing the ideas and claims of the protests. Learning about this from German media, I began to ask whether, during the protest, street art became a medium of expression. Furthermore, was street art a feasible way to oppose official media dominated by censorship and political arbitrariness? And does this mean that people doing street art realize what David Harvey calls “the right to the city”?
İstiklâl Caddesi: Pandas and Tags
The side streets of İstiklal Caddesi are dominated by the art of Luxury Hands, a company founded by six street artists, amongst them Leo Lunatic and Mr. Hure. You find pandas, spray cans, tags and other symbols typically used by these artists all over Beyoğlu. Nur-i Ziya Sokak, a small street off İstiklal Caddesi, is just one example. When entering this street, you are welcomed by one of Leo Lunatics pandas, a small café follows.
Street Art Inside
Street Art Inside Mixer is an art gallery in Tophane which opened in 2012 and pursues the aim to broaden and support the contemporary art scene in Istanbul. They provide an exhibition space for young Turkish artists and offer the art works to the public for an affordable price.
Street Art Commercials
"No street art is for people on the street, you cannot use it for a medium of free advertisement, you have to pay your tax to if you want to make a puma ad, or if you want to make a puma ad with the culture of street art you have to pay some street artists to paint something for you. It’s not just like giving the stencil free and than giving paint and also stencils and go out an ps ps ps run away, it’s just too rude, it’s too rude to the culture. It’s not street art."
Street Art – a Form of Resistance!?
“And so many people just started taking attention to taking pictures of the street art, like oh this is really funny, this is really good, this is protest, this is, taking a picture with. So it really opened people’s mind, you can just put out what you are thinking on the street and other people react to it or taking a picture, sharing, commenting. So I think just not only Gezi Park of course but it has a huge effect as well to opening people’s mind to looking more to the walls."
As a research group, we were concerned with Istanbul’s economical, cultural and social transformation into a global city over the past 50 years as well as the various effects of this transformation. During our travel to Istanbul Nora Kühnert and Anne Patscheider conducted field research on squatting in Istanbul. The political controversies regarding common usage of... Artikel ansehen
Mapping: Street Art
Gregor Samsa and Don Kişot fighting against windmills -Squatting in Istanbul as an attempt to resist neo-liberal urban politics
On the Trails of Don Kişot - Our Field Research in Istanbul By the changing shape of the Istanbul skyline, the rapid growth of material production within the city since the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) raised to power in 2002 is easily visible for the city’s inhabitants. Over the past two decades, Istanbul has undergone a neoliberal restructuring process. Progressing globalization and digitalization have not only turned the city into a site absorbing surplus value - an epicenter of the accumulation of capital - they have also formed a new urban space in which traditional national spatial arrangement engage with those of the global digital age.
Beyoğlu – center of queer life
The district Beyoğlu is situated in the center of Istanbul’s European side. By the end of the year 2012, Beyoğlu had nearly 250.000 residents. İstiklal Caddesi, the largest shopping street of Istanbul, starts at Taksim Square and extends about 2 km to the historic narrow-gauge railway station Tünel.
Strategies within and beyond Fortress Europe As I walked through the streets of downtown Istanbul, I saw a young man with a child sitting in the the street, begging for money. In the proximity of the big shopping-street İstiklal Caddesi or other parts of Beyoğlu, I recognized more people, doing the same. Many of them were refugees, as I could read on self-made signs that were positioned in front of them. Often children or other family members were begging there for money. Some of them slept in the street, parks or in abandoned houses, as I was told by other refugees.
The Erasmus Programme as an Internationalized Form of Gaining Knowledge for Students and a Bureaucratic Challenge for Universities
The Erasmus Programme existing since 1987 constitutes one of the most popular exchange programs supported by the European Union. Since its creation, over two million students have participated in the Erasmus Programme and went abroad. So far, around 3.000 institutions from 33 European countries have taken part in the program
Strategies within and beyond Fortress Europe
As I walked through the streets of downtown Istanbul, I saw a young man with a child sitting on the curb, begging for money. In the proximity of the big shopping street İstiklal Caddesi as well as in other parts of Beyoğlu, I noticed more people doing the same. As I could read on self-made signs positioned on front of them, many of them were refugees. Often, children and other family members were begging for money.
Refuge within Transnational Networks – Syrian Students in Istanbul
On my first visit to Sehir University, I started having a chat with two female students in the West Campus cafeteria randomly asking them where to find the next public park. While chatting, I told them about the student research group I was part of. When we came to discuss the issue of refugees in Istanbul,... Artikel ansehen
Queerstanbul - Aspects of love, gender and sexuality inside daily life of LGBTIQ* The research project is part of the seminar “Global City Istanbul” and formed up to an exhibition project. Funded by the program “Kreativität im Studium” the group visited Istanbul once again during the Pride Week 20014. The results of the research were shown in Göttingen during an exhibition in December 2014.
LambdaIstanbul and Kaos GL (Ankara) are the biggest LGBTIQ*-Organizations in Turkey. Overall, 40 associations exist, e.g. smaller unions and college associations. Since 2002, Lambda operates an office and a cultural center hosting regular meetings and events accessible to everyone interested. Even a small library devoted to LGBTIQ* topics is integrated into the center.
Motivation – Why go to Istanbul?
Every incoming student surely has their own motivation for spending their Erasmus year in Istanbul. The reasons may merely be bureaucratic ones: As M., a student from Berlin, told us, not Istanbul, but rather Barcelona had been her first choice – but finally she was very happy that the Erasmus system ‘made’ her go to Istanbul: “Turkey, that was rather coincidence. Actually, I wanted to go to Spain, but all in all that didn’t work out. And then I went to Istanbul, […] what I found even cooler. Well, yes, Spain had lost its attraction for me somehow.”
Marginalization and the Church of Hope
"If you go to Osmanbey, or somewhere else, you will find so many Iranians, Syrians, who are working really without working permit, because they are white, Muslims sometimes, no problem. But because black people…oh police when they make, you know, control they will see black people working. What happens? They will arrest them and then they will even fine the employers. And then the employers, to pay the fine, how do you think?"
Syrian Students at an Istanbul Private University
According to the International Relations Office of Sehir University in July 2014, 91 Syrian students had arrived at the University between 2012 and 2013, all of them young Muslims, born in 1989 and later, with only a quarter of them being women. Around 70 of these students are supported by an Organization called Homs League Abroad (HLA), with most of... Artikel ansehen
Urban Transformation in Istanbul: Gecekondu Neighborhoods and “Regeneration Areas”
As a result of successful education and health politics in Turkey during the 1930s, the infant mortality rate declined and population increased. After the Second World War, the distribution of work opportunities led to a massive migration of Anatolian peasants to Istanbul. Due to a lack of housing, copious so-called gecekondus were “built over night,” resulting in sprawling urban growth.
Pride Week 2014 – LGBT Onur Haftasi
Every year since 2003, the group “LGBTI Istanbul” has organized Istanbul’s LGBTIQ* Pride March. After modest beginnings with 30 participants in its first year, July 2013 saw thousands of homo-, bi- hetero- and transsexuals opposing Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and homophobia with Gezi Park-protesters in Taksim square expressing their solidarity. The number of participants increased immensely to 50.000 in 2013 and redoubled in 2014 with approximately 100.000 participants.
‘Re-Unification’ in Aksaray
As I was further reflecting on the situation of Syrian refugees in Istanbul, I wanted to see Ismail again, whom I had first gotten in touch with on May, 1 2014 in Edirne. We had met in one of the city’s hotels in the evening after the big 1 May demonstration that had taken place in the city center. During our first conversation, Ismail told me that he had already tried to reach both Greece and Bulgaria with his family a couple of times.
Erasmus-student in Istanbul: Being part of the ‘Erasmus-bubble’ or preferring to distinguish oneself?
There are also Erasmus students not wishing be part of this apparently typical “Erasmus -behavior”. Rather, they desire to be part of political movements – in Istanbul especially the Gezi protests – or to be involved in other social projects, for example the migrant solidarity kitchen “Mutfak” in the district Tarlabaşi.
State Capitalism, Neo-Liberal Politics, TOKI and Urban Transformation in Istanbul since 2002
When confronted with the huge urban transformation of Istanbul since the 1960s, we asked ourselves which laws and projects adopted by Erdoğan in the more recent past had led to the present forms of urbanization and its results, e.g. the regeneration areas. AKP politics were based on earlier neo-liberalization processes led by Turgut Özal, founder of the AKP’s predecessor party ANAP and Turkey’s prime minister after the end of the military dictatorship.
Some districts of Istanbul like Beyoğlu are considered to be safe for lesbians, gays, bi- and transsexuals and shaped by the queer scene. In recent years, Istanbul has experienced a boom of gay bars and pubs, clubs and hostels. It is conceived as a metropolis with a flourishing and vibrant urban gay scene – also by tourists.
Refuge within transnational networks – Syrian students in Istanbul Lisa Szepan's text evolved as a result of the seminar “Global City Istanbul” and is based on interviews with Syrian students, who had fled the war in their home country to survive and continue their education abroad. During the field trip in May 2014, the young men talked to the researcher personally and kept communicating through digital media afterwards.
Homs League Abroad and Turkiyeburslari – Mobility through Scholarships
For the three young men I spoke to, the ability to finance their studies and lives in Istanbul was the key issue for their decision to move there – as they had to leave Damascus and Homs, they could have also gone to another country. Personal contacts, either to family members or friends, made them... Artikel ansehen
Taksim – a place to live, a place for party, a place for protest
The Taksim district is located in the center of Istanbul – on the European side. There is almost no place in Istanbul anymore where you have this much space to move. The Taksim Square is a well-known public area playing a significant role in our interviews. Taksim transformed – over the last centuries – to a very complex district. It is a place to live, a place to party and to protest.
Resisting neo-liberal politics: Gezi Parkı
People are “sick” of the undemocratic government interventions in the urban space since 2002. Aside from the constantly growing role of TOKI, a look at the changing skyline of the city makes apparent that “Istanbul has undergone a neo-liberal restructuring process over (more than) the past two decades.” Biray Kolluoğlu and Ayfer Bartu Candan found... Artikel ansehen
Kumkapı is a place that already has a migrant history. Many people that have migrated live and work there. Suitcase or bag sellers as well as many textile shops are very visible in the streetscape. The whole area was full of shopping tourists looking for cheap offers. As one becomes aware of in Kumkapı, not every refugee or migrant has the chance to go to the European Union or be resettled. No small number of them decides to stay in Istanbul instead of going back to their country of origin.
Hoping for Resettlement
"Because I can say that UNHCR system is overcrowded. Now I am talking about refugees and asylum seekers. The system in UNHCR is crazy. I think that they don’t process the files very quickly. So you see people staying and waiting. You go to UNHCR, you apply. You have your free interview. And to hear from them, you have to wait maybe from six month to one year and then when you are like you get accepted and then you have then to wait for an embassy or a country that will host you. That will take another six [months] or one year again. So, you will see that the length of awaiting here will take from one sometimes to four to five years."
Other actors within the gay scene in Istanbul also expressed the opinion that it was easier for people with higher social status and economic capital to live openly gay. But the queer scene’s service sector also provides employment opportunities for low-income workers. Visiting bars and clubs of the scene, we gathered that most of the... Artikel ansehen
Neighborhood Forums, Different Squats and Projects Following Gezi in Short
After the Gezi Park protests were put to an end in the summer of 2013, people started to get together in local neighborhood parks and founded so-called neighborhood “forums.” Some protesters wished to maintain the often-mentioned “Gezi spirit”: They wanted to keep discussing political demands or ways of organizing amongst themselves.
New Lives in Istanbul – Choices without Alternatives
“So, I had to get out. And well, the obvious option is Istanbul.” (Isan, May 29, 2014) With the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Turkish government introduced the so-called Temporary Protection Regime in October 2011 allowing every Syrian refugee to enter Turkey legally and be provided with accommodation in camps as well as basic... Artikel ansehen
The aim of the research project Street Art in Istanbul was to look at the diversity of art in the public space. The widespread use of art - from political purposes to aesthetic reasons – demonstrates the diverse ideas of artists and city dwellers to live with and within their city. Lea Stöver's research project is part of the seminar “Global City Istanbul”.
Transsexuality in Istanbul
During the Pride Week in June 2014, we met Merve C. at a discussion panel on “Sex Laboratory” Merve participated in as representative of the Trans Solidarity Networks. She invited us to her home the Sunday morning before the Gay Pride March and told us about her daily life, professional difficulties she was facing and how she earned her living as a sex worker. Also, she spoke about the Trans Movement and the significance it holds for her. The visit is documented in the short film “Breakfast at Merve’s”.
A Place for Saying Goodbye
I met up with Jawad and Jasir at the “Sea of Marmara” in a suburb called Küçükçekmece – a place where „many Kurdish people live “, as I was later told by my interview partners. In the past, Jawad had been a lawyer in Syria. I knew Jawad from earlier research I conducted for Bordermonitoring Bulgaria
Building up – The Hosting City as Political Back Office
“I am actually more active here in Istanbul than I was in Damascus, because you have like, more freedom now. There is no intelligence following us [laughs].” (Isan, May 29, 2014) Whilst talking to Isan, he started telling me about his role in the Syrian revolution, where he was taking part in neighborhood coordination and the... Artikel ansehen
The idea of a research on the Erasmus programme and its manifestations in Istanbul was to ask why students from all over Europe chose Istanbul as their destination and how they are living in the global city. The project of Anna Schäfer and Laura Lamping highlights different perspectives of doing Erasmus in Istanbul: from the bureaucratic burdens of universities, to student’s romanticism of living in “the exotic East” and their ways of living between Erasmus Parties and protest movements. The research project is part of the seminar “Global City Istanbul”.
“We get bullets, normally.” (Isan, May, 29 2014)
Despite the active interest in the Syrian war, my interviewee’s reactions towards the recent Gezi-park protests were rather cautious, expressing the will to distance themselves from the events: “Actually I did not come out, because I do not want to have any problem here, we are, we came from the war and we do not... Artikel ansehen
The Solidarity Project Mutfak
In the district of Tarlabaşı, one may find Mutfak (kitchen), a meeting space were one can partake in cooking for the poor of the neighborhood or organize counsel and other support for refugees as well as asylum seekers. It was founded by people close to the Migration Solidarity Group (Göçmen Dayanışma Ağı) Istanbul. Due to the gentrification process in that area which has been taking place for the last few years, more people able to pay higher rents are entering the housing market. The area has two faces with run-down houses, drug sellers and prostitution on the one hand and, on the other hand, renovated or newly built houses, nice and clean people to be seen in the street as well as on the signs adorning the construction sites.
Where Are We Now in the City?
In Aksaray, where many Syrians live, there are currently more than ten Syrian restaurants, Isan told me. Whenever he missed Syrian food, such as bean dishes and humus, he went there. The further broadening of Istanbul’s already global culinary infrastructure is one side effect of the Syrians’ active presence in the city. Outside Isan’s university... Artikel ansehen
All in all, it seems like Syrian refugees in Turkey, alike other migrants and refugees, have to be highly flexible. As stated in an Amnesty International report published in 2014, refugees in Istanbul and other parts of the country have to work for low wages. In Istanbul, not one of the Syrian refugees I met... Artikel ansehen
Reviewing the experiences of Isan, Maroun, Nadim and their families, their situation seems to reflect the almost desperate situation in Syria on the one hand and the fragmentation of Syrian civil society organizations abroad on the other. Chances to flee the war are mostly springing up from personal contacts leading to organizational affiliations and are,... Artikel ansehen
Mapping: Syrian Students