Saturday, 26 February 2011

(ENGLISH VERSION) ISTANBUL Correspondence for VREME, February 2011

This is my very first article translated into English, with a big help of Google Translate. Sorry for any sentences that don’t make sense. I did my best to make it understandable for English speakers.


BR 1050
17 February 2011.

Flying carpets and shopping malls

marko milovanovic


For “Time“ from Istanbul

After several hours of wandering around the steep streets of the historic area of Istanbul, Ayansaray, finally, at the end of the hill, surrounded by ruined homes, we spotted the city gates from the Byzantine period. Just a few passers-by and residents of this area knew that the "ruins", as they call them, are actually a significant cultural and historic "remains" of turbulent history. Although only ten minutes away from downtown and major tourist zones, residents of this area are swamped with a multitude of problems, from the communal, political to usual economic ones. They don’t think about the long-past times, because they don’t live out of them.

Over the past year, Turkey's largest city and fifth largest city in the world, was the European Capital of Culture. This helped to patch up some holes, but many problems remained unresolved. Many experts argue that Istanbul is still not "recovered" from a large mouthful, which an organization of this event meant. Last year was marked by over 600 exhibitions, concerts and other attractions that recovered the artistic and creative spirit of the city, activating many galleries and museums. However, there is still an impression that Istanbul with its 13 (officially) or 30 (unofficially) millions of inhabitants, is a place too big for the manifestation of this type.

BETWEEN TWO FIRES : World media is still dealing with the last year's European capital of culture discussing how last year somehow "exposed" the Turkish political ambition towards the EU, as well as the feelings of ordinary people of the approach to the consumerist culture that the West represents. London's "Guardian" last week recalled the incident in September when the group of young people raided several Galleries of Modern Art smashing windows and damaging the exhibition. Radical protest was dedicated to the modern artists who advocate the development plans for the relocation of the poor to the periphery, the demolition of abandoned houses and the building of luxurious commercial and residential buildings.

As it corresponds to the place where Europe and Asia kiss, very symbolically in Istanbul, students from British and Turkish school of architecture met. Students from Oxford and their colleagues from Istanbul had an aim to understand the ordinary people and their needs, the city as the point where cultures and people are connected, and Turkey as a country "between two fires". Residential parts of the Istanbul Fener and Balat were taken as the main focus points. With its history, stories and problems, these areas are reflecting the situation throughout the country. With a mission to understand the structure and complexity of the urban environment, the problems which the architecture students faced were more complex than expected.

In this area there is a large number of religious sites which makes Istanbul proud of its multitude of cultures and religions. Fener-Balat is the base of the Greek Orthodox Church having a throne of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Historically, this was the area of immigrants. Churches, mosques, synagogues are everywhere around. Although the multicultural spirit and presence of diversity cannot be felt as much as architecture is imposing it, historical importance of the region is internationally recognised and along with some other locations in Istanbul, Fener-Balat is declared by the UNESCO world cultural heritage.

The European Union together with UNESCO in 1998 began intensive work on the rehabilitation of these areas. Even today, walking the narrow streets, it is easy to notice a large number of houses that have just collapsed. Terraces, which in many cases hang over sidewalks and streets, often crash, and sometimes the media in Istanbul reports written in tiny letters, that someone was killed by a collapsing tenement houses.

In line with global trends, the European Union in the process of "rehabilitation" advocated "participation" and "contribution" of the inhabitants of the area, giving the biggest role to the non-governmental organizations. In 2000 the EU give seven million euros for the renewal. For the first time in this kind of project local Turkish government was involved as well, allocating two million dollars to the project. Fener and Balat become a paradise for restorers, and by 2008, 120 buildings were reconstructed. Since the project was finished, it has become a synonym for successful urban rehabilitation and caught the attention of the international experts.

"People were hoping that their house will be selected for reconstruction. The criteria were strict. Everyone was enthusiastic and very grateful to the European Union," said Cigdem Sahin from local NGO. She, however, says that the local authorities underestimate the process of rehabilitation of Fener and Balata.

COMPOSING AND DECOMPOSING "In 2010 part of the inhabitants of this area were told that their homes are located in the area of the planned development, which foresees the demolition of a historic part of the area, building a modern complex, which would include a shopping mall and a hotel," said Sahin.

Residents, whose homes are on the territory planned for the implementation of the new development, were given several options to compensate land. They could be displaced to the periphery of Istanbul, or get the money only in the value of the land of their houses.

As one of the founders of the association "Febayder", which is fighting against these plans of the local authorities, Sahin says that the development project is a violation of many laws, international treaties and basic human rights.

"In addition, the spirit of this area will be permanently ruined; destruction of cultural heritage is unacceptable. Turkey wants to be closer to the European Union, and local governments is not doing anything in this regard. We could have started the process in front of an international court, but we cannot until the trial in Turkey is completed. That is slow because of the corruption at every step, "says Sahin.

According to the plans presented, about 30 houses planned to be demolished just a few years ago were renewed by the EU. "They built for us, and we are demolishing it, that is mad," says the association "Febayder.

While some demonstrate against plans of municipal authorities by saying "Do not touch my house", the others are happy about new investment in Fener and Balat. In the pub where only men can go, in the centre of this historic area, a few natives told us that they can’t wait for the the mall and the hotel to be built; it would recover this area and bring in new people, as well as jobs for many unemployed.

"It is not worth that EU funds reconstruction of one house, when around that house three other houses are falling apart. We don’t have other option, they should demolish all of this and build that plan," says Mustafa, who is fifty, and who was born in this area. In that context, when asked about relationship between Europe and Turkey, he said: "We are approaching them for over twenty years and that’s it. I listen to one and the same story for my whole life. Sometimes, we are closer, sometimes we are not, in fact we are nowhere."

It is often argued that the majority of the population has not “seen” in any way three billion U.S. dollars, which were last year invested in Istanbul as the European capital of culture. According to “Le Mond”, one of the organizers Kadir Topbas said that the organizers failed to reach everybody, because Istanbul is the size of a small country. "However, Istanbul has experienced revival, and we have welcomed eight million tourists last year," said Topbas.

FAKE ARMANI: The need for tourists is visible at every step. Walking through the Grand Bazaar you will get hundreds of "best friends" because that is how hyperactive sellers addressed every potential customer. In the total chaos of the underground economy you can also get to know a nice and hospitable merchant who will calmly explain how to distinguish "fake" rug of the handmade one. The first days of stay, while you are fresh and still not tired of energetic sellers, you might by a mistake answer the question “where are you from”. It can easily happen that you find yourself in a situation where the seller speaking proper Serbian language is trying to sell you "Armani" perfume for 10 euros.

Just when you get the impression that the Turkish economy is based on delusions of naive tourists, in the distance you notice a number of glossy skyscrapers that point out the recent growth of the Turkish economy. The north of the European part of Istanbul is the financial centre of the country. The economic development of Istanbul is bringing even more diversity to the historic urban environment.

In a talk at the top of Galata Tower, from where all parts of Istanbul are visable, architects from the Technical University of Istanbul, Ozan Avci and Aslihan Senel explained that the shape of the city is changing every day.

"Istanbul is developing in an unpredictable direction. The problem is that urban plans are not grounded in reality. The city authorities are trying to move the centre of town to the north, as well as to expand the commercial area in this direction," say Avci and Senel adding that such tendencies have symbolic value, because the north of the city symbolizes modern Turkey, free from constraints of misunderstood cultures and religions, tradition which is based in the historical quarters in the south.

Liberation from the constraints is also a state policy of Turkey. Economic growth during the global recovery from the global economic crisis is one of the favourite stories of the local politicians when they find themselves face to face with their European partners. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the foreign media says that the European Union needs Turkey to become stronger. He recently wrote in the American weekly newsmagazine "Newsweek" a criticism of the Union which as he states easily accepts small and weak economies that can be exploited, while stepping away from Turkey which is a big and powerful player.

Inside the country, the story is slightly different. Turkey needs Europe, primarily for economic reasons, since 46% of total export of Turkey is directed towards the EU. However, in recent polls the Turkish support for the membership in the European Union fell from 74% in 2005 when the negotiations for the membership began to 34.8% in January this year. Turkish analysts say that thanks to France and Germany, which are the biggest opponents to the European integration of Turkey, Europe is slowly losing Turkey. Minister for International Trade in Frankfurt last weekend criticized the Germans recent tightening of visa requirements for Turkish companies. Deputy Prime Minister in late January in Davos said that the EU is becoming a "Christian club", referring to the difficulties in negotiations. Demotivating aspect for the people is the fact that despite five years of negotiations on EU membership, citizens of Turkey still cannot move freely through Europe (the Schengen area). Students say that the worst thing is to wait in the lines for visas. Sounds familiar. That’s what it is like when a country is “developing”.

SCIENCE STADIUM, Last Images 2, February 2011, Marko Milovanovic

Here are some images from my first semester's work, since I will not be posting the whole portfolio before the end of year.

Friday, 25 February 2011

My Correspondence for VREME from Istanbul, 17 February 2011

VREME | BR 1050 | 17. FEBRUAR 2011.


Leteći ćilimi i šoping molovi (link)


Za "Vreme" iz Istanbula
Nakon više sati lutanja strmim ulicama istorijske oblasti Istanbula Ajansaraj, konačno se, na kraju uzvišenja, okružena ruiniranim kućama, ukazala gradska kapija iz vizantijskog perioda. Malo je ko od slučajnih prolaznika i stanovnika ove oblasti znao da su "ruševine", kako ih oni nazivaju, zapravo značajni kulturno-istorijski "ostaci" burne istorije. Iako na samo desetak minuta od centra grada i glavne turističke zone, stanovnici okolnih oblasti zatrpani su mnoštvom problema, od komunalnih, političkih do standardnih ekonomskih, pa se o davno prošlim vremenima mnogo ne zna i ne razmišlja, jer se od toga ne živi.

Tokom prošle godine, najveći grad Turske i peti po veličini grad na svetu, bio je Evropska prestonica kulture. To je pomoglo da se pojedine rupe zakrpe, ali je većina problema ostala nerešena. Mnogi poznavaoci prilika tvrde da se Istanbul još nije "oporavio" od velikog zalogaja koji je organizacija ovakvog događaja podrazumevala. Proteklu godinu obeležilo je preko 600 izložbi, koncerata i drugih atrakcija koje su "oživele" umetnički i stvaralački duh grada, aktivirajući uspavane galerije i muzeje. Međutim, ostao je dojam da je Istanbul sa zvaničnih 13, a nezvaničnih 30 miliona stanovnika, ipak preveliko i nedovljno pregledno mesto za manifestaciju tog tipa.
IZMEĐU DVE VATRE: Svetski mediji se i dalje bave prošlogodišnjom evropskom prestonicom kulture, ističući da je protekla godina donekle "razotkrila" turske političke ambicije ka Evropi, kao i osećanja običnih ljudi spram približavanja potrošačkoj kulturi koju Zapad otelovljuje. Londonski "Gardijan" je prošle nedelje podsetio na incident kada je u septembru "godine kulture" grupa mladih upala u nekoliko istanbulskih galerija moderne umetnosti razbijajući prozore i uništavajući postavke. Radikalan protest bio je upućen modernim umetnicima koji zagovaraju razvojne planove za izmeštanje siromašnog stanovništva na periferiju, rušenje napuštenih kuća i gradnju luksuznih komercijalnih i rezidencijalnih objekata.
Kao što to dolikuje mestu gde se "ljube" Evropa i Azija, u Istanbulu su se veoma simbolično sreli studenti britanske i turske škole arhitekture. Studenti iz Oksforda i njihove kolege iz Istanbula imali su cilj da razumeju obične ljude i njihove potrebe, grad kao tačku u kojoj se spajaju kulture i ljudi, ali i Tursku kao državu "između dve vatre". Za glavnu odrednicu označeni su rezidencijalni delovi Istanbula Fener i Balat, koji svojom istorijom, pričama i problemima oslikavaju stanje u celoj državi. Sa zadatkom da razumeju strukturu i slojevitost ove urbane sredine, problemi sa kojima su se studenti arhitekture susreli bili su kompleksniji nego što se dalo očekivati.
U ovoj oblasti nalazi se veliki broj verskih objekata kojima se Istanbul diči kada je reč o mnoštvu kultura i religija koje se tu spajaju. Fener i Balat su između ostalog i sedište Grčke pravoslavne crkve gde se nalazi konstantinopoljski tron ekumenskog patrijarha. Kako je ova oblast u svojoj istoriji bila sedište doseljenika, na svakom koraku su crkve, džamije, sinagoge. Iako se multikulturni duh i prisustvo različitosti ne oseća onoliko koliko to arhitektura nameće, istorijska važnost regije u svetskim je okvirima, pa je Fener i Balat, zajedno sa još nekim lokacijama u Istanbulu, Unesko proglasio svetskom kulturnom baštinom.
Evropska unija je, zajedno sa Uneskom, još 1998. godine započela intenzivan rad na procesu rehabilitacije ove oblasti. I danas, šetajući se uskim ulicama, lako je primetiti veliki broj kuća koje su naprosto urušene. Terase koje se u velikom broju slučajeva nadvijaju nad trotoarima i ulicama, neretko se obrušavaju, i često se u istanbulskim medijima, u rubrici hronika, sitnim slovima napisano, može pročitati da je neko usmrćen urušavanjem oronulih kuća.
U skladu sa svetskim trendovima, Evropska unija je u procesu "rehabilitacije" zagovarala "učestvovanje" i "doprinos" stanovnika same oblasti, a najveću ulogu su imale nevladine organizacije. Tako 2000. godine EU daje sedam miliona evra na račun obnove, a prvi put u jednom ovakvom projektu učestvuje i turska vlada izdvajanjem dva miliona dolara. Fener i Balat postaju raj za restauratore, a do 2008. godine obnovljeno je 120 objekata. Po završetku "akcije", ovaj projekat postao je sinonim za uspešnu urbanu rehabilitaciju i zaokupio je pažnju međunarodne stručne javnosti.
"Stanovnici su se nadali da će baš njihova kuća biti odabrana za obnovu. Kriterijumi su bili strogi. Svi su bili puni entuzijazma i veoma zahvalni Evropskoj uniji", kaže Čigdem Šahin iz lokalne nevladine organizacije. Ona, ipak, dodaje da turske lokalne vlasti prilično potcenjuju proces rehabilitacije Fenera i Balata.
ZIDANJE SKADRA: "Tokom 2010. delu stanovnika ove oblasti saopšteno je da se njihove kuće nalaze na prostoru za koji postoji plan razvoja, koji predviđa rušenje jednog dela istorijske oblasti i izgradnju modernog kompleksa, koji bi uključio šoping centar i hotel", navodi Šahin.
Stanovnicima čije se kuće nalaze na prostoru predviđenom za realizaciju novog razvojnog plana, predstavljeno je nekoliko mogućnosti kompenzacije zemljišta, pri čemu bi oni bili iseljeni na periferiju Istanbula ili bi dobili novac isključivo u vrednosti zemljišta na kojem se njihove kuće nalaze.
Kao jedan od osnivača asocijacije "Febajder", koja se bori protiv ovakvih planova lokalnih vlasti, Šahin naglašava da predstavljeni razvojni projekat krši mnoge zakone, međunarodne sporazume i osnovna ljudska prava.
"Pored toga što će se duh ove oblasti trajno narušiti, uništavanje kulturne baštine je nedopustivo. Turska želi da se približava Evropskoj uniji, a lokalne vlasti ne čine ništa u tom smislu. Mi bismo počeli proces pred međunarodnim sudom, ali ne možemo dok se ovaj u Turskoj ne završi. To naravno ide sporo, jer je korupcija na svakom koraku", dodaje Šahin.
Po predstavljenim planovima, oko 30 kuća predviđenih da budu srušene pre samo nekoliko godina obnovljene su od strane EU. "Oni nam grade, a mi rušimo, pa to nigde nema", poručuju iz asocijacije "Febajder".
Dok jedni demonstriraju protiv planova opštinskih vlasti poručujući "Ne dirajte moju kuću", drugi sa osmehom priželjkuju nove investicije i ulaganje u Fener i Balat. U kafani u koju odlaze isključivo muškarci, u srcu ove istorijske oblasti, nekoliko starosedelaca reklo nam je da jedva čekaju izgradnju šoping centra i hotela, da će to oživeti ovu oblast i dovesti nove ljude, kao i poslove za veliki broj nezaposlenih.
"Šta vredi što EU finansira obnovu jedne kuće, kad se oko nje tri druge kuće sruše same od sebe. Takva nam je država da nam nema druge. Treba sve ovo srušiti i najbolje je da izgrade to što planiraju", kaže pedesetogodišnji Mustafa koji je u ovoj oblasti rođen i tu oduvek živi. Na pitanje kako on iz te pozicije doživljava Evropu i približavanje Turske Evropskoj uniji, kaže: "Približavamo se mi njima već više dvadeset godina i ništa. Slušam jednu istu priču ceo život. Nekad smo bliže, nekad smo dalje, a zapravo nismo nigde."
Često se navodi činjenica da tri milijarde dolara koje su prošle godine uložene u Istanbul kao evropsku prestonicu kulture, većina stanovništva nije primetila ni na koji način. Po skorašnjem pisanju francuskog "Monda", jedan od organizatora Kadir Topbas rekao je da organizatori nisu uspeli da dopru do svakoga, jer je sam Istanbul veličine jedne manje zemlje. "Nasuprot svemu, Istanbul je ipak doživeo preporod, a mi smo ugostili osam miliona turista", naglasio je Topbas.
LAŽNI ARMANI: Žeđ za turistima vidljiva je na svakom koraku. Šetajući kroz Veliki bazar steći ćete na stotine "najboljih prijatelja", jer tako hiperaktivni prodavci oslovljavaju svaku potencijalnu mušteriju. U potpunom haosu sive ekonomije možete naleteti i na ponekog gostoljubivog trgovca koji će vam smireno objasniti kako da razlikujete "falš" ćilim od onog pravog. Prvih dana boravka, dok ste još sveži i nisu vas izmorili navalentni prodavci, omakne vam se da odgovorite na pitanje prodavca odakle dolazite. Tako se možete zadesiti u situaciji da prodavac na čistom srpskom jeziku pokušava da vam proda "armani" parfem za 10 evra.
Taman kada se prepustite utisku da se turska ekonomija zasniva na obmanama naivnih turista, u daljini zasvetluca niz solitera koji opominju na ekonomski rast koji Turska privreda beleži u poslednje vreme. Severni deo evropskog dela Istanbula finansijski je centar države. Tako je razvojem Turske u ekonomskog giganta i sam Istanbul počeo da menja oblik i postaje još "šareniji".
U razgovoru na vrhu Galata kule, sa koje se jasno vide sve strane i obale Istanbula, arhitekte sa Tehničkog univerziteta Istanbula Ozan Avči i Aslihan Senel objašnjavaju da se oblik grada iz dana u dan menja.
"Istanbul se razvija u prilično neodređenom smeru. Problem je u tome što urbani planovi ne nalaze utemeljenje u realnosti. Gradske vlasti se trude da se centar grada pomera na sever, kao i da se u tom smeru proširi i komercijalna oblast", kažu oni i dodaju da takve tendencije imaju i simboličku vrednost, jer sever grada simboliše modernu Tursku, oslobođeniju stega pogrešno shvaćene kulture i religije, čija je kolevka u istorijskoj četvri na jugu.
Oslobađanje od stega upravo je i državna politika Turske. Privredni rast u vreme globalnog oporavka od svetske ekonomske krize jedna je od omiljenih priča ovdašnjih političara kada se nađu licem u lice sa evropskim partnerima. Premijer Redžep Tajip Erdogan u stranim medijima ističe da je Evropska unija ta kojoj je potrebna Turska kako bi postala jača. On je nedavno u američkom nedeljniku "Njuzvik" kritikovao Uniju koja olako prihvata male i slabe ekonomije koje može da eksploatiše, dok zanemaruje Tursku kao velikog i moćnog igrača.
Za unutardržavne potrebe priča je malo drugačija. Turskoj je potrebna Evropa, pre svega iz ekonomskih razloga, jer je 46 odsto ukupnog izvoza Turske usmereno ka EU. Međutim, u najnovijim istraživanjima javnog mnjenja podrška članstvu Turske u Evropskoj uniji opala je sa 74 odsto u 2005. kada su pregovori za članstvo počeli na 34,8 odsto u januaru ove godine. Turski analitičari upozoravaju Francusku i Nemačku, koje najviše blokiraju evropske integracije Turske, da ovakvi rezultati znače da Evropa polako gubi Tursku. Ministar za međunarodnu trgovinu prošlog vikenda u Frankfurtu kritikovao je nemačko pooštravanje viznog režima za turske kompanije. Zamenik premijera je krajem januara u Davosu govorio da EU postaje "hrišćanski klub", negodujući tako zbog poteškoća u pregovorima o članstvu. Demorališući aspekt za narod je i činjenica da se i pored pet godina pregovora o pristupu EU, građani Turske još ne kreću slobodno Evropom, odnosno šengenskim prostorom. Studenti kažu da je najgore čekati u redovima za vizu. Zvuči poznato. Tako je to kada je zemlja u razvoju.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

SCIENCE STADIUM, Last Images 1, February 2011, Marko Milovanovic

Here are some images from my first semester's work, since I will not be posting the whole portfolio before the end of year.


Friday, 18 February 2011

ISTANBUL, My Photographs published in "Vreme" this week, February 2011

These are photographs I took in Istanbul. They are part of the story about Fener-Balat that I wrote about. The article is coming soon.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Saturday, 12 February 2011