I have a working title for this project now, ‘The Blossoming’. It’s been fun to make: picking and pressing flowers, pouring ink here and there. And there will be more to come!
For about five month in 2010, I lived in the Tarlabaşı district of Istanbul. It is only 5 minutes walk from the Galatasaray Lycée and 7 minutes from Taksim square. The area is currently undergoing an aggressive gentrification process. When I was there, it was the ghetto. Whenever I told someone, especially a born and bred İstanbullu, the shock and horror expressed was always the same.
A short synopsis of what I saw: drug dealers, mice, transvestites, drug users, big rats, sexual acts, poverty, scorpions, police barricades, gunshots, cockroaches, extreme poverty, violence against women and community.
Yes, community. They looked out for me. One morning I woke up to find someone had put flowers on my window sill. I have no idea why, but it was surreal and wonderful to wake up to.
The Monumentum Ancyranum (Ancyra Monument) is my favourite place in Ankara. It is a temple that was dedicated to the Emperor Augustus who was deified after his death in 14 AD. It was built between 20 - 25 AD. Its walls were once adorned with the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (The Deeds of the Divine Augustus) in both Latin and Greek.
It was recognised by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, on his way to present his letter of credence to the court of Süleyman the Magnificent, who at the time was stationed in Amasya repelling a Persian attack. It is thanks to Busbecq we can read the Res Gestae Divi Augusti in its (almost) complete form today.
It is nice to walk around the temple and think that one of the first Western diplomats to the Ottoman court saw what I am seeing. And possibly felt the same heady excitement and admiration.