The Memory of İnciraltı

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The Memory of İnciraltı: Coastal and Inland

Project Concept and Cooordination: Emel Kayın

The Artists: 

Ayşegül Kurtel  ( Performance Artist),  Ekin Erman (Sculpture),  Emel Kayın (Architect-Writer-Poet),  İlknur Baltacı ( Photographer), Onur Nurcan (Musician), Şölen Kipöz (Fashion Designer and Theorist), Tanzer Güven (Documentary Film Makers, Zuhal Çetin Özkan /Documentary Film Makers

The project “The Memory of İnciraltı: Coastal and Inland” aims to draw attention, through artworks, to the character and the current transformation process of the district of İnciraltı, which has the memory strata related to ‘natural life, agriculture, fishery, recreation, political movements, cultural activities etc.’, as well as being the ‘last green space left’ in the city of Izmir. In the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century İnciraltı appeared as a nature reserve with agricultural and fishing activities, also as swamps and wetlands inhabited by migratory birds. In the early republic period, the region had been the place for establishing the modern beaches. Even though the agricultural and fishing activities and the avian life have survived to present day, by the 1970’s the sea was contaminated, the beaches closed and the athletes’ quarters for the 6th International Mediterranean Games were built in the region. After the games, the housing units were used as student dormitories, political student movements, artistic actions and recreational activities took place in İnciraltı. In the 1980’s various other buildings were built and in the 2000’s an “urban forest” was established and coastal rehabilitation was realized to turn it into an attractive area for more middle and lower income groups. Today, the demands to build multi-storey apartment buildings, hotels, shopping malls, exhibition halls, etc. in this region are in the agenda of the city government. With these developments, İnciraltı region, those who live there and citizens who use the area have faced a dilemma between to be “at the edge of the city” or to be “in the city” . This dilemma is the main issue shaping “The Memory of Inciralti: Coastal and Inland” project.

The project started by allocating various chapters of the book titled “Being at the Edge of the City and in the City: Inciraltı” (by Emel Kayın, 2011, Heyamola Publications) to artists from different fields such as sculpture, clothing design, photography, animation, music and performance. The book is a literary text based on scientific research on the memory and transformation of Inciraltı district. The chapters were allocated taking artists’ earlier works and artistic approach. It was expected from the artists to create works which reflect the ‘ebb and flow’ between the ‘the lost memory exhibited in the book, the state of İnciraltı as of now and each artist’s approach to the issue’. Different possibilities of the exhibition format will be determined by discussions with the artists. The all process has been open to public through various events like workshops, field trips, conferences, documentary film screenings and concerts, related to the issues of ‘memory / conservation of memory’ which is expected to create awareness among the city dwellers. All throughout the process, the project aimed at revealing the dilemma between the ‘coast and inland’ or between being at the ‘edge of the city or ‘in the city’ and opening up the character of the Inciralti as the last accessible seaside for everyone in the intense urban environment of İzmir.

Giving old clothes new lives Şölen Kıpöz worked on the chapter called “On theTrack of Child and Young Summers” which depicts beach period of İnciraltı. Descriptions in the text such as “women who wear swimsuits with skirts like mini dresses”, “little girls who are incapable to swim while tugging their swimsuits that deforms in water knit by their mothers”, “old ladies transforming into balloons when entering the sea with their dresses on”, “ruffled dresses unique to coastal areas” are among the imaginary background in Şölen Kıpöz’s dress. “Eğenbuğur” story is also among these images. The story of young maidens who hang a little rusty metal piece to protect themselves from “eğenbuğur” that comes along with a wind in July is represented by a little metal piece in artist’s dress. Old swimsuit collected by the help of a newspaper advertisement “Lost Swimsuits are Wanted” are among the main elements of the dress. The dress made by old swimsuits once worn in İnciraltı and Sümerbak chintz was designed more of a performance object to touch the sea in İnciraltı than an exhibition item.

A performance at the seaside has been planned and this performance will get richer sentimentally by the dance performance by dancer Cansu Ergin along with sound created by sound engineer Gürkan Mıhçı. The title chosen for the dress; “The One Who the Sea Passes through “establishes connotations with the situations coast has gone through and textual images. A political chapter was specially chosen for Elkin Erman, who also made a sculptor of Deniz Gezmiş; an prominent figure in country’s political scene in second half of 1960’s and in early 1970’s. It is called “Lost Coast, Lost Youth” and focuses on political student movement risen in İnciraltı in 1970’s and student killings at a conflict at the end of this period. The sculpture which artist covered with the same newspaper clippings mentioned in the book refers to that dead and lies are covered behind newspapers. As a symbol of the leading figure of the revolution and dead students it was first placed among branches of an olive tree in İnciraltı and left there to communicate with citizens. The venture of the sculpture from studio to there was turned into a short movie called “After a Lost Revolution” by Zuhal Çetin Özkan.

The chapter called “Coast far Away” which tells the period when İnciraltı drifted away from citizens’ lives but became a shelter for artists in 16980’s was offered to photography artist İlknur Baltacı. The chapter narrates states such as “distantness, encircledness, forgottenness” and also points out traumas of the reconstruction which is getting closer day by day for the urban space. Visualizing İnciraltı with the action created by improvised dance performance İlknur Baltacı focuses also on the current state of the transformation. In photos, struggle symbolized by dancer Cansu Ergin’s body in blue-green scenery reflects the aesthetics of the tension among “nature, men, city”. “Courage to Stay at the Coast” -the chapter which depicts the current state of İnciraltı and an utopia created for urban space by the author- was given to Ayşegül Kurtel. “A coast for Citizens” utopia suggests the rehabilitation of the district as a nature based recreation area of İzmir city. Suggesting many sustainable works such as camping, horse riding, learning milking a cow utopia was given a meaning by Ayşegül Kurtel’s “citrus garden” performance.

Musican Onur Nurcan focused on making the sound of İnciraltı. After Onur Nurcan composed “five short pieces” for cello, the music was integrated with “five İnciraltı photos” by him and “five short poems” by Emel Kayın. In the session titled “A Vocalization for Tree, Weed, Cat and Water “the music was performed by Beste Başçı and the poems were read by Emel Kayın. The result of the performance as a video has been presented to citizens at different places. A documentary movie-maker Zuhal Çetin Özkan has also prepared long and short films called “Memory and Coast” along with documenting the project process. The films reflect the struggle of the artist trying to actualize back the lost pieces of İnciraltı’s memory along with enthusiastic and tensioned dynamics of such a creation process. The story of the artist, sometimes in solitary with their works sometimes in collaboration with each other, sometimes participating with citizens unite with the reality of İnciraltı.

The photography documentation of the project was made by İlknur Baltacı. “Each District A History: İnciraltı” documentary by Tanzer Güven, who based on the book “Being at the Edge of the City and in the City: Inciraltı” has been screened at Ege Tv and many other platforms at different times of the process.