Istanbul Walkabouts is a performative, projective and participatory research project that uses walking as a critical methodology to explore, record, represent and resist transforming landscapes of northern Istanbul. Unlike urbanized, industrialized and populated southern Istanbul seeking a position amongst the global league; northern hinterland of Istanbul is sparsely populated and houses forests, water reserves, agricultural lands, farms, military zones and quarries. Simultaneously, this region houses Northern Marmara Highway that not only connects Asia to Europe over Bosphorus for the third time but also acts as a spine to forthcoming megaprojects like ecologically catastrophic artificial strait or world's largest airport. As Istanbul Walkabouts investigates territories the highway transits directly on site with the archaic and anthropic mode of moving about the Earth, it constitutes a critique of the neoliberal operations on northern Istanbul and creates awareness and transparency about these territories by walking around them. Ultimately, it intends to produce a resistance to top-down urbanization policies and establish a platform for discussion and discourse to inform future urbanisms.
The project that started as solitary walks evolved into curated walks done with up to 250 participants. After walking 235km on differing routes with varying capturing modes and multiple encounters within physical, seasonal and temporal changes; the walks constituted their own methodology to explore transforming landscapes. The aspiration of Istanbul Walkabouts is to share this experience of employing the archaic and anthropic practice of walking to reflect upon current operations and future urbanisms.
Dioramas are performative representations of a particular walk formed with photographs taken during the walk. This one points to the critical phase where ubiquitous elements of transport infrastructure meet the current occupants of northern Istanbul. A flock of sheep, shepherd, his dogs, turtle, walker, cow, signs of 'farmers' eggs', bugs, beekeeper and hives - all encountered and pictured during the walk. Celestial hands are plunking down transport infrastructure from above - deus ex machina.
Within the absence of a coherent urban theory, dubiousness and unreliability of law, impossibility of direct action in Faustian Istanbul, walking is an alternative methodology of critique and resistance. The critical action of walking produces critical reflections on operational territories. Eventually, Istanbul Walkabouts anticipates continuing the walks on routes derived from previous walks and initiate platforms of discussion to imagine potential futurisms of transforming landscapes.
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