Sheffield Fringe

Urban Observations: In and around Istanbul

Saturday 15 June 2013, 12:00pm

Bloc Projects
71 Eyre Lane
Sheffield S1 4RB

Urban Observations: In and around Istanbul
Halil Altındere, Wonderland (Turkey 2013), video still


A selection of observations made in and around Istanbul are gathered together to suggest the attitude and energy of the city, and the dynamics between coexisting spaces and communities. All but one artist lives between Istanbul and another locality, their perceptions influenced perhaps by the distancing experience of living elsewhere, and the intimate nature of submerging into a place they bond with on their return. Some of the included videos delve into very precise issues, such as the transformation of particular districts, or the ceremonial planning of the day of Ashura by a distinct group of people, while others take a broader position that concerns the intangibility of comparing here and there. The linking thread is an exploration of urban performance, recital, and gathering to express opinions and beliefs, be those of the artists, the protagonists, or others who remain unnamed. – November Paynter

Selected by November Paynter, Associate Director of Research & Programs at SALT, Istanbul. Paynter previously worked as Curator for Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, as Assistant Curator of the 9th International Istanbul Biennial, and in 2003 was the first curator under the age of 30 to be recognized with the Premio Lorenza Bonaldi per l’Arte – EnterPrize award. In 2007 Paynter took the temporary position of Consultant Curator at Tate Modern for the exhibition Global Cities. Recent curatorial projects include 0 – Now: Traversing West Asia for the Asia Pacific Triennial 7, Brisbane (2011).



Ashura | Köken Ergun | Germany/Turkey 2012 | HD | 22 min

The Battle of Karbala was a military engagement that took place on October 10, 680 in Karbala, between the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph and Hussein, the grandson of prophet Muhammad. Hussein and his supporters were killed; women and children were taken as prisoners. Central to Shi’a Muslim belief, the martyrdom of Hussein is mourned by an annual commemoration, called Ashura. Artist Köken Ergun worked in close collaboration with the people of Zeynebiye, the Istanbul neighbourhood referring to Hussein’s courageous sister Zeyneb, documenting their preparations for the 2010 Ashura ceremonies.

Of dice and men

Of dice and men | Didem Pekün | Turkey/UK 2013-Ongoing | HD | 15 min

Of dice and men is an exploration of day-to-day chance events taking place in vastly differing geographies, namely in Istanbul and London. The work hints softly at personal and political violence and asks, how do we produce ourselves in the face of conflict?

The Great Good Place

The Great Good Place | Annika Eriksson | Turkey 2010 | HD | 6 min

The Great Good Place portrays a community of formerly well cared for domesticated cats that have since been abandoned and now live together in a park in Istanbul. The notion of place hinted at in the title refers to the non-defined spaces within a cityscape that temporarily allow for informal living-conditions to exist.


Wonderland | Halil Altındere | Turkey 2013 | HD | 8 min 35s

Wonderland by Halil Altindere is filmed in several neighbourhoods where buildings are being left to ruin and communities are destroyed to enable new development. Creating a pseudo music-style video Altindere directs a group of young men as they rap about issues of gentrification and enforced relocation of inhabitants.

Casting for a Canary Opera

Casting for a Canary Opera | Esra Ersen | 2011 | HD | 18 min 22s

Esra Ersen’s film portrays members of a canary lovers society, reciting like actors, speeches extrapolated from a totally different context. This choice relies on the fact that in Turkey many civic initiatives, trade unions, political parties, even the army or terrorist groups, and certainly bureaucrats, when wanting to emphasize their efforts and the importance of their actions, often do so by pointing out that they are not just a simple canary lovers’ society. (Courtesy of Borusan Contemporary Art Collection)