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Ghost(s) City(ies) [Tarlabaşi]

related texts

- Arie Amaya Akkermans, "On Ghosts & Apparitions", Sententiae Antiquae, 29'10'2020

6 May 2013, 1AM, I stumbled into a dark alley in Tarlabaşi. A first abandoned building was followed by a second, then a third; the entire zone was deserted. After ten minutes, a police vehicle came to enquire about me. I explained I was lost and returned to my hotel.

6 May 2013, 8AM, I resumed the trail. The day light revealed architectural details – pediments, bow windows, consoles -, textures of stone, tiles, wood, shattered curtains, broken glass, particles of dust, vegetation, that were invisible in the night. All the edifices were deteriorated, except one, intact and yet inhabited, resisting alone among the ruins.

It was an “urban renovation” and gentrification project. They would repaint the “nice façades” and level everything else. Residents were gone. Children shouting in the streets, elderly persons playing Turkish draughts and drinking tea and the exploits of the little thugs, all the neighbourhood life had vanished. A blog that attempted to archive the memories of the inhabitants has on its turn, gone from the web.

An iron palisade belting the structures was eventually interrupted by breakthroughs allowing stolen views inside. Some alleys were completely closed and isolated from the rest of the world. Workers were demolishing with pickaxe, from the inside, throwing the rubble on the street.

A few hours later I met Arie for the first time, then Hale. Six years before, I viewed her video Beirut (2005-2007): The Saint-Georges Hotel filmed in a fixed shot, without tripod, tight framing, curtains flying in the air, terrifying soundtrack and alternation of day and night. It was haunting and anticipated my walks in Tarlabaşi in an unexpected scramble between Beirut and Istanbul.

Hale, Arie and all the persons I met during this trip were not well. Two weeks later, the Gezi protests erupted. It was the beginning of the end of a state of grace, or the illusion of a state of grace. The sky was getting darker over the Bosphorus, and over the entire Eastern Mediterranean: Alexandria, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Izmir.

For Arie Amaya Akkermans, Hale Tenger and Hera Büyüktaşçıyan.

related articles

- The Markaz Review, 10'06'2023
SFAQ San Francisco Arts Quarterly, 08'2014

related projects

- Abandoned Dwellings. Tableaux
- Apocalypse

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