September 23, 2011

Explore Your Own Personal Istanbul At New SALT Show

“Public order is a pathetic metropolitan demand.” 
“Decadence is the discourse which justifies the clean[s]ing of the uncommon, marginal, etc.” 
“Everything can be sacrificed in the name of security.” 

These sentences, defining various concepts as they apply to today’s Istanbul, are a few examples of the work being presented in SALT Beyoğlu’s new show, “Becoming Istanbul.” On the third floor of this unconventional exhibition, viewers are invited to sit in front of large computer screens and navigate through a database of over 400 artistic works, videos, photographs, caricatures, news videos and architectural projects produced between 1999 and 2011. 


These works are categorized with tags selected from a list of 80 concepts, such as public order, decadence and security. In turn, the concepts have been defined on the basis of the works they describe. On the other side of the floor, visitors can walk among curtains on which the concepts and definitions are written. 

In an interview with Today’s Zaman, the project’s leader, Meriç Öner, explained that the goal of “Becoming Istanbul” is to question customary representations of Istanbul -- from the East and the West, and from Istanbulites and outsiders -- by viewing all available material in one single platform. 

“There are various adjectives and labels that have been attributed to this city for centuries; and there is also a city that we live in today with its daily life, its population of 13 million, its more than 5,000 square kilometers, its hardships, and its potential, related to its ongoing process of transition and transformation,” she says, noting that the concepts chosen to describe or discuss the city may be similar to many other metropolises, such as New York, London or Dubai, but the contexts in which they are used vary. “For instance, when we look at the projects which have been seemingly open to involvement over the last 10 to 15 years in Istanbul, we say that ‘involvement is a method of manipulation.’ Of course, this definition may change in time according to developments in the city,” she adds. 

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