Cultural Engineering Group

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Indicators of Istanbul

“It’s no surprise that artists–always reliable indicators of a neighborhood beginning its transition—are leading the charge.” Is a quote from video journalist Gabriel Leigh in a recent short piece about the gentrification of the commercial neighborhood of Karaköy in Istanbul. 

In the piece, Leigh described the artist space, Caravansarai as, “A residency and studios for circus-style performance lessons.”  Aside from the not making any sense semantically, that statement is also not true.  Caravansarai is a creative production space and meeting point which houses a collective of two. Adding to the gentrification pedigree–we are also foreigners.

Not much longer in this incarnation. Not to be confused with the entities responsible for gentrification (corporations, government) we are the unfortunate indicators. I say ‘we’ because I am one half of Caravansarai.  We moved into the Perşembe Pazarı section of Karaköy two years ago after a long period of fetishizing it.    Full of wire and tubing and winches and gears and rubber stoppers,  Karaköy was inspirational ever since the first time I strolled through it nine years ago.  At that time I was a tightwire walker and the ease at which I could find materials with which to erect an entire circus excited me.  The neighborhood has existed like this for the past 30 or so years, but it does not have much longer in this incarnation.

Passing Patterns of Perşembe Pazarı. As a tribute and a nod to the transitional nature of the area, we have begun documenting it in non-standard ways:  When we moved in, we invited artists to take their cues from the 1,000 odd years of history of this port district and design pieces to be built into the space.  My associate, Julie Upmeyer’s personal visual work concentrates on the signage of Perşembe Pazarı.  And now, we add to this commemorative mission, a choreography project which will highlight the already existing movement of people, goods, and vehicles around the area—the Passing Patterns of Perşembe Pazarı (PPPP.)

While our love affair with Karaköy and Perşembe Pazarı is ongoing, we find ourselves at scale compared to the larger cultural institutions that are opening up around us.  SALT Galata, bankrolled by, well . . . a bank . . . has ample resources to conduct whatever project they conceive of, while we struggle to maintain our independence as artists while still trying to fund our projects.

Large insitutions are the real gentrifiers of Karaköy. PPPP has no financial backing except what we can gather from other people who get excited about the neighborhood, our ideas, Istanbul in general—especially those who want to sustain the work of individual artists and people as opposed to large institutions—the real gentrifiers of Karaköy.

Source : 2010LABtv.

The Passing Patterns of Perşembe Pazarı can be visited on where you can support it either financially or through social media ‘praise’.

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