Exploring the City: Perceiving Istanbul through its Cultural Productions


This essay explores the role of Istanbul’s ‘cultural productions’ as components of the city’s structure and texture. Istanbul is a city of tensions, generated by its countless conflicting and divergent flows which are constantly influenced by socio‐economic, political and cultural fusions and confusions. It is constantly expanding, both horizontally and vertically, as evidenced by its central and peripheral settlements, illegal dwellings and squatted lands. With each and every new inhabitant, further cumulative cultural input is added to the city, which also blends social exclusion and transgression (together with axiomatic de facto regulations). The city ‘operates’ as a jumbled mode of excessive information; the repetitive collapse and replenishment of this information overload opens up diverse ‘realities’. Within this picture, ‘cultural productions’ of the city have emerged as indicators of inhabitants’ reactions, exposing ways of coping with/surviving in the city. These cultural productions are locally, temporarily and spontaneously produced. Consequently, this essay investigates how such cultural productions have been processed by the inhabitants of the city since the 1980s, and specifically focuses on the latest research and project models, navigating through projects undertaken by academics, artists and architects who correspond and have connections with international institutions — most notably in the field of contemporary art.