Istanbul, metropolitan city is huge, formally 14 million, informally around 18 million inhabitants. It has 5.343 km2 area located in two continents. Although it is a decentralized city, the center is always accepted as Taksim (Beyoglu).
Beyoglu ( Taksim ) is the district where the minorities has been located for many centuries. It is close to historical peninsula but out of the old city walls. There had been Jews, Armenians, Levantines and many other non Muslims used to live and still living in the area. Although the demography changed with the changed conditions over decades, now there are less number of people from historical minorities but more of new migrants like Surians, Africans and others. As Taksim, the heart of the social memory of Turkey, it has always been the central place for politic demonstrations and activist movements. Gezi Protests was the biggest public expression ever happened in Turkey started when a tree cut by authorities to start building a shopping mall in Gezi park in Taksim two years ago.
Tarlabasi district is next to Taksim Square. It has now many neighborhood units in it as it has been historically. After the migration of non-muslim inhabitants of Tarlabaşı due to state policies in 1942 (Varlik tax system ) and 1955s (6-7 September events) there were many apartments left empty. When the migration from Anatolia speeded up from 60s till the end of 90s lots of people from different districts of Anatolia moved to Tarlabaşı and most of them occupied those empty apartments. Since these people mainly located in clusters, there flourished a strange as well as vivid many small neigbourhoods with inhabitants migrated from different cities of Anatolia. For the last few decades Tarlabaşı was a poor neighborhood which is ignored by the authorities.
Social situation today is even worse, under the name of gentrification Municipality forced the 78 house owners to sell their houses to the government to be able to destroy them and reconstruct new expensive settlement to new comers. It has been done in a such a wild way that many people had to leave their houses and with no hope to find some other settlements in the area nearby. Many buildings were historical, experts says that history has been destroyed. The inhabitants of the area are spread around in Istanbul.
Tarlabaşı is may be the only truly multi cultural part of Istanbul. Many churches and synagogues in the area. On the street you can meet European Erasmus students, refugees from Africa, Syria and Asia; Syrians, Romans, Kurds, other migrants from Anatolian cities especially from East Turkey and travesties… It is not really common to see such a variety of cultures and people in any other neighborhood of Istanbul .
The surrounding is quite crappie and the buildings are very old and not well proetected. Most of the buildings are in the danger of collapse. The average income is quite low. And most of the public is working on daily jobs without insurance.
PASAJ and Kahya Bey Sokak (name of our tiny street), Our artist initiative and independent art space PASAJ’s ‘s office is on Kahya Bey Sokak close to a busier street Ömer Hayyam. At the beginning, the only reason for us to move here was the low land prices and its central location, but after being there for a period we are amazed by the colorful life of the area. We had many Kurdish and Roman neighbors and newly immigrated Syrians. Everyone knows each other and they have active social street life. In the spring days the women goes out of their houses and sits on the street or make their amazing wedding parties and dance in the middle of the street with music.
As PASAJ we decided to use one small restaurant in the corner as the venue for our events. It is a very small shop all in 10 m2 with an art lover owner. We got a really good respond from the neighbors. So after 1,5 years, we love to be here.
goal of the project is to be able to communicate with the teenagers and general inhabitants of the area through the most common medium that they exposed in their daily life, which is the tv series. As we know the Turkish society and especially the lower income families are crazy about and follow the series, we want to develop a diolog through a tool they know well and interested. The projects will be based on shooting of a tv series, which is written and produced by the people living in the area. We decided to make them shoot the reality they live in, in 7 epizodes. Young people especially will be active in each step in the process of production. We’ll do many workshops in the first two months to teach them many aspects of such a process from scenario writing to shooting and acting etc. that load them with the capacities they need to achive such a production on themselfs as much as possible. We will also invite known artists and actors to help us and increase the attention of the participants. We will do street screenings each week.
We will also built a web based interactive map that includes short interviews and other material as one of the mediums that advocates for the people who swept away from the gentrified districts.
We are also planning to make a documentary of the all process.