72 h in Istanbul
In the beginning of November, we traveled to Istanbul to visit the 16th Biennale and explore its architectural heritage and recent urban development. Istanbul, a vibrant city built on two Continents, is divided by the Bosphorus, and situated at the Sea of Marmara. Eight students and two teachers from the department of Space and Design Strategies at the Linz art university were curious enough to head to Turkey despite the political tumult around that time. The discussed reason for the descision to go on the trip anyway, was that we would like to have meaningful exchanges with people from abroad, as this was always inspiring, and not just surrender to the status quo of the knowledge that reach us in the west.
During a program of 3 days we visited most, probably pretty much all, of the sites of the Biennale - even taking the ferry to the Princess Island, wandering through the car-free streets and the impressive Ottoman—Era buildings, where the Biennale sites were situated in those abandoned and astonishing houses built from wood and colored all white - kind of a New Orleans style. Considered to be one of the biggest biennials alongside Venice, São Paolo and Sydney, the Istanbul Biennial proclaims a special form of exhibition- and curating- model. In the museum as much as at the symposium, which took place at the local art university – the Mimar Sinan University (which is a partner university of our Kunstuniversität Linz by the way!), they are always seeking to create some sort of dialogue between the artists and the audience.
Along the Biennale we visited the brand new Arter Museum, which opened simultaneously with the 16th Istanbul Biennale. It‘s hosting one of the biggest art collections by the Koc foundation Turkey and the brand new building by Grimshaw provided a strong example of how gentrification in Istanbul is rapidly pushing the very low key neighborhoods and its inhabitants away from the city center.
On the last day, starting from the site of the Arter museum our architectural walks took us through steep streets and pathways. Not only back alleyways and streets appear to be assembled by so many different stones and materials, and individualized here and there, for example by a personal staircase in front of the house, or some different stones to mark a tree. Also, many passages are lined by assembled buildings and constructions Gecekondu- style.