Istanbul is full of old historic buildings from different pasts. Some are badly in decay like I mentioned in the previous post (The Art of Decay) , but some do get lucky and are in the process of being renovated mostly as part of preparations for city's upcoming title as the European Capital of Culture in 2010. So while culture is being refreshed to be showcased once more in it's full glory, a culture of temporary facades has emerged in form of wrappings.

I've been taking photographs of some of those temporary structures and draperies and plywood curtains. As ordinary as they are, some of them proved to be quite elegant and lively as their drapes were lifted by wind or as their wrinkles or cracks were caught in the low sunlight. They are simple constructions of mix-scaffolding of wood and steel tubes then covered with some kind of fabric or plywood. The fabric is either cut in vertical pieces like a curtain, or perforated in a regular pattern to let air in and out. In both cases sometimes the pattern gets interrupted, sometimes one of the drapes get folded for better access, which then help create a different fashion for each building.

Of course when walking along these buildings with their transient facades, it's impossible not to be reminded of amazing works of Christo and Jeanne Claude. And especially this week after hearing the sad news of Jeanne Claude's sudden passing. Sad to see her go, but happy for her to have left such wonderful memories of art. I was lucky enough to be in NY to see their beautiful "Gates" some winters ago, before they became recycled into inspired ideas, thoughts and memories. It was probably one of the very happy times in the collective minds of New Yorkers - I had definitely not seen as many of them smiling before or again.

I don't know if one associates anything wrapped with a gift or a surprise in works underneath it, but in me the "wrap" always inspires wonder. And mostly joy,too, in case of wrapped buildings waiting to be unwrapped/explored/discovered like giant toy presents. The usual point of view gets shifted and a sense of adventure rises. And as these short-lived facades peel away, the true identity of the buildings start showing face one more time. The edge of street changes again, the box gets unwrapped, the make-up behind the veil reveals itself and the building gets another chance at the chaotic urban life of Istanbul.


The Art of Decay

Today is the day I decided to procrastinate the procrastination on starting the footnotes. This was meant to start 3 years ago when I first moved back to this city with the idea of building this virtual box for myself to throw ideas in as I am on the go re-discovering the city I was born in. The city is Istanbul. It is wonderfully chaotic, so layered that in every step something calls your attention. Then something else does and thoughts that spark one minute dim quickly in the next in the junk-collector-web of one's memory. So these footnotes were going to be the tags for my dimming thoughts before they are forgotten in forever. Brief notes for buried thoughts. Just to be collected in a form to return to and hopefully find a pattern or a story. So here goes the first one "the art of decay":

This starts with one of many abandoned buildings in my neighborhood which are in total decay. They have some historic value (which means the owner cannot demolish them, but they are too expensive to be restored to their original form, so they are left to be) which allows them to stick to life. And as life is it ages everything. First things start to build up then they start to fall off. As much as decay evokes trash or death in many ways, if one looks close enough, there is a chance to see something really beautiful. As in people, aging changes the original form of everything, the smooth finish gets wrinkled, cracked and stained. But once you take it out of context for what it was and see it as what it is - the cracks and the stains and the surviving pieces from layers of years in color jump off as a quite joyful thing to look at, almost a piece of art; A surprising combination of abstract color and random pattern.

(Apologies - the images are not well placed in the layout, as I haven't figured out how to format it)