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Temporary art exhibit pays homage to an Istanbul apartment building scheduled for demolition 

Temporary art exhibit pays homage to an Istanbul apartment building scheduled for demolition 

"Mikrotopya" is a collection of installations, graffiti art and sculptures of found items created by 16 artists in an empty apartment building slated for demolition in Istanbul.

By
Durrie Bouscaren

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On the exterior of the building, the stencil of a stag created by the artist MAD stands solemnly, with pieces of women’s underwear hanging from its horns as a part of Istanbul exhibit, “Mikrotopya.”

 

Credit:

Durrie Bouscaren/The World 

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Inside an abandoned apartment building in Istanbul, Turkish artists have built an overnight museum of urban art.

Bright, colorful monsters with razor-sharp teeth guard the walls of one apartment, empty save for piles of broken glass and debris. In another room, a tree sculpted from a pile of discarded clothing seems to gaze wistfully out of the hole that was once a bedroom window. Nearby, pairs of shoes sit outside an apartment door, as if the tenants were having a party.

Stencil artist MAD, from Tabriz, Iran, contributed to Istanbul exhibit, “Mikrotopya,” a floor-to-ceiling image of a sniper aiming a gun, tied to puppet strings. He calls the piece “Hidden Reality.” 

 

Credit:

Durrie Bouscaren/The World 

This is “Mikrotopya,” a collection of installations, graffiti art and sculptures of found items created by 16 artists in an empty, four-story apartment building slated for demolition as part of an extensive urban renewal project. The art can be found throughout more than a dozen of the building’s apartments.

Related: Abortion increasingly hard to access in Turkey

“Mikrotopya” — or “Microtopia,” in its English spelling — comes from a concept pioneered by French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud. The idea centers around the concept that if the world around you isn’t perfect, you can create a tiny world of your own with what you have, the show’s curator and artist Begum Tekay explained.

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“Instead of imagining what we can’t do, what we need to do is focus on what is actually possible.” 

Begum Tekay, Istanbul artist

“Instead of imagining what we can’t do, what we need to do is focus on what is actually possible,” Tekay said.

And if what you have around you is an abandoned building that might not be here tomorrow, so be it.

Related: In Turkey, a conservative push to remove domestic violence protections is met with an uproar

The apartment building’s loss to urban renewal is not unusual in Istanbul’s bustling Kadikoy district, where the threat of an earthquake is an ever-present danger in homes that were constructed before the enforcement of modern building codes. The new apartments will likely be sleek and taller, more modern, but they might not match the neighborhood’s original seaside feel, full of wide balconies and gardens with orange trees.

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When the residents moved out of their apartments to wait out the construction period, Tekay, who runs a ceramics studio next door, arranged with the building’s contractors to allow a temporary art exhibit there, before the scheduled demolition. Most of the installations were created within five days, and “Mikrotopya” was opened to the public on Nov. 1, with an uncertain end-date. The building’s demolition is imminent.

“The people who used to live here also came to the exhibition. Some of them got really sad, some were really happy. Their experience is important to me.”

Begum Tekay, Istanbul artist

“The people who used to live here also came to the exhibition,” Tekay said. “Some of them got really sad, some were really happy. Their experience is important to me.”

Without windows or heating, the cold of a gray, January afternoon seeps in quickly through the hard concrete. Each piece feels tailor-made to the apartment where it is installed, either as a meditation or a stark contrast to the lives of the people who once lived there. In one room, a vintage parquet floor with crown molding now frames the image of a soldier crouching with a sniper’s gun, tied to the strings of a puppet master.

A blue and red mural of faces by Berat Cizer covers the wall of a middle-floor apartment. “Mikrotopya’s” visitors often find themselves picking their way through broken glass and debris as they discover new works of art. 

Credit:

Durrie Bouscaren/The World 

On the top floor, a horned, wooden sculpture sits perched over the side of a crumbling balcony, holding a windchime of spoons over the street below. Burak Cizer created it with materials left behind by the building’s tenants, in their kitchens, living rooms and hallways.

Related: Expulsions, pushbacks and extraditions: Turkey’s war on dissent extends to Europe

“I wanted it to be like a totem. The protector sculpture for this building,” Cizer said.

Batikan Bostanci, 30, stands with his installation, “Powerless Faces” as a part of Istanbul exhibit, “Mikrotopya.” Bostanci layered pigments and paint over textured concrete, wood and plastic remnants found in the debris left by the building’s residents. 

Credit:

Durrie Bouscaren/The World 

Another arresting installation by Batikan Bostanci depicts obscured, almost skeletal images of people painted in stripes and pigments over sections of concrete relief. He calls them “Powerless Faces.”

“When I first came to this place, I felt like nothing here belongs to the present,” Bostanci said. “Nothing has an owner anymore.”

Related: Istanbul’s Asitane restaurant is a ‘gateway’ to the city’s culinary past

Bostanci’s installation appears as a mediation on spaces frozen in time, where right and wrong no longer exist and one’s fate is out of their control.

“Everything here belongs to this building and will be gone when the building is demolished,” Bostanci said. “[The residents] are really kind and understanding people, so I also want this building to be demolished so that they can have their own homes, eventually.” 

A tree made of found fabrics pinned to a wall by Songul Girgin gazes wistfully out of what was once a bedroom window as a part of Istanbul exhibit, “Mikrotopya.”

Credit:

Durrie Bouscaren/The World 

Onyx & Dope D.O.D. – Piro (feat. Dopey Rotten) (Shotgunz In Hell Album)

[Verse 1: Skits Vicious, Jay Reaper & Dopey Rotten]
What, I don’t give a fuck boy
Middle fingers up to you fuckboys
Onyx D.O.D yeah we MOB boy
D.O.P.E black rock boy
Drop boyz the illest in the ozone
No clone i be bad to the bone holmes
So stoned take a dab of the home grown
Phone home like an extraterrestrial
Out of this world bitch
Your rap shit’s terrible
Talk the talk Walk the walk oh you never do
Chop your head off then i put it on a pedestal
Clean up the tools had a scheme but you never knew
You never knew and you never will know
Crack your window take that Nintendo
Ketamin flow five high five low
Oh psycho five-o die slow
I’m a piro maniac
Ready for the sneak attack
Niggas know the Reaper back
Burning through your speaker set
We ain’t getting weaker yet
Sudden death
100 MAD
Understand
They got us living in the last days

[Hook]
I don’t give a fuck
Straight from the brain I’ll be giving you the pain

[Verse 2: Fredro Starr]
(Sounds like the sounds of war)
What, We saying fuck all you bitch niggas
Guns up, we stickin all you rich niggas
Onyx D.O.D take your bitch niggas
When you see us coming better dig a ditch niggas
We put em six feet deep underground yo
(I’m going in for the kill hold me down Dro)
Ey yo i got it Stick I’ma hold it down bro
I kill em all till you won’t hear a sound yo
We black mask it, niggas get blasted
Black suits, black hearse, black caskets
Black boots, bald head, black bastards
We tear the club up niggas yeah we crashed it

[Verse 3: Sticky Fingaz]
Fuck their live shows I’ve seen better raps on gyro’s
I got that piro nigga my shit go viral
Let that five blow Dro only you and i know
Check your vitals suicide on arrival
Pull ya plug out the socket
Let this club get to poppin
Give a fuck who is watching
Push shove we drop em
I ain’t wanna do it but i did it now it’s done
And i’d do it all again cause it had to be done

[Hook]
I don’t give a fuck
Straight from the brain I’ll be giving you the pain