Everybody, who reads 1984, was crazy about Big Brother’s policy of rendering memoryless. Yes, Dear Winston Smith, the history is erased and rewritten but how it happens that you may forget so fast?
While the world is globalized, as world citizens we are rendered memoryless. “White” and black are intermingled. The dystopia of Orwell becomes true. “The citizen at the street”, who is the unique subject of statistics, has no name. We lose the resisting points that we own one by one. Becoming a ghetto expresses completely deprivation, beyond being a word defining deprivation regions. The art, which is among last humanitarian intervention means that may protect its existence as long as it resists to global capital, can be counted as the most typical symbol of human deprivation from now on!
With the expression that we often repeat at last years, Istanbul becomes a “center of attraction”. While urban transformation projects are implemented slowly, we witness that the capital of West with art and culture focus starts to flow to Istanbul. The infertility that the West lives in artistic and cultural meaning, with a more realistic explanation, the hollowing of culture capital the contemporary art quite much provide the Western eye to turn towards East once more. The West staying without material used firstly the “other one” at its own periphery again by rendering other: For last twenty years, the most striking works of contemporary art came out of immigrants and immigration. Now the West of capital – the capital of West is following the “other one” outside.
The city, which is cradle of the civilization, is also the site of stratification, social dissolution and advancement according to general modernist opinion. While making the definition of a city, Marxist analysis emphasizes the class discrimination, the domination of a class upon the other one. Today it is quite obvious in which definition we may include Istanbul. With “neo” prefix, liberal model of “Leave them do” dominates also the art identity of Istanbul. The basic opposition between the pure production targeting a limited buyer consisting of producers only and the production to satisfy the expectations of masses that the economy discipline determined describes also very well art medium of Istanbul. The shadow game being formed by adding prestige to the prestige of the enterprise, which is sponsor of culture art foundation that it established; that the smallest section prepared for itself is executed with success. While doing this, the status quo changes inside the class are never forgotten and the “tulips” at various colors are distributed upon different prices as class badge. At café-bar of a private museum, the Bosphorus landscape is sold. The house and atelier of Kuzgun Acar are restored and becomes “the delightful Ottoman and palace kitchen restaurant”.(1) Art heritage of an era is eaten tastefully with accompaniment of beautiful memoirs. You can be “Museum Friend” of another museum, people may profit from privileges by expressing their distinction level as much as their moneys suffice!
The minority, who owns the capital, is conscious of that the consumption doesn’t only create social differences, but at the same time establishes those times after times. Departing from here, it produces imitations among the mass that it standardizes by presenting the art, and creates its new consumers by itself. Especially after 90s, as the change of production relations brings the market domination of white collars, Istanbul is made a business metropolis in the direction of the benefits of new middle class. On one hand the city is cleared from the “dirt” too. “Prestige villas”, “residences” are planned to be built by destruction of İMÇ; AKM is wanted to be destructed by neglecting its short and intense site history; the public area is narrowed; while the regions such as Sulukule, Tarlabaşı are gifted to real estate rent, their inhabitants are aimed to be exiled outside the city. The presentation of art and culture as a popular material to strange and estranged tourist is completed by gentrification of the city by neoliberal policies.
Asmalımescit is converted into “Soho”, while retro comes into fashion again, there are “parties” for 80s, where the left of the country was squeezed first and then grubbed up if the expression is right; the guests coming to Istanbul Biennial are hosted at Pera Palas; being “New Yorker” is in fashion; the favorite site is Babylon; the most beautiful music is “techno with Eastern sound”; the new “trend” at art is contemporary art, whose ground has slipped but as “political” as possible, at a site around Tunnel if possible, inside formal ordinariness whatever its material is but having the claim of being content depth. While the motto of “world city” is a definition leaning on business relations, because of the integration with world art industry, the art is also included inside these frontiers, too. While all of these are lived besides, Istanbul enters among the cities that take the “European Culture Capital” nomination. Well intentioned volunteers, who want to convert this opportunity into the benefit of the city and citizen by saying that it is their duty, and their intentions are boiled inside globalization soup. Local governments lead at strengthening the relations with capital. For instance, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality organizes a conference at June and declares the aim of the conference as “discussing last developments and trends at world by bringing together municipality staff, international organization managers, academicians, advisors, who are expert in culture and creative industries domains” and certainly “company managers from Turkey and abroad”.(2) At sessions having titles such as “Policies and Predictions For Culture Industries: Global Approaches”, “Culture Industries and Urban Economic Development at 21st century”, “International Commerce of Culture Industry Products” and “The Role of Creative Activities Sets At The Process of Making The Cities A Brand”, people among, whom there aren’t any single artist and of whom the general consists of directly company of company-like the universities or managers of different culture institutions, discuss the industrialization of the culture and how Istanbul will be marketed.
The “culture industry” is continually repeated through neglecting Adorno, by a large section including art environments. However, it is absolutely possible to adapt to today what he determined years ago: Adorno said that the consideration of human who took place inside industrial society, as an industrial product, I mean the becoming of human any object, “human material” with the expression of advertisement, causes his “becoming a thing”. The culture industry obstructs the estrangement of the individual to the system and captures him. The masses are not its criteria but its ideology. The autonomy of the artwork is canceled by the culture industry consciously inside or outside the will of control mechanism.
Once more the system invents various methods for using the purified labor, art production of the human in direction of its own benefits. The reduction of art into fun is lanced as “descending to street”, “attracting the interest of the citizen”; the art is hollowed, too.
The ones, who want to be “Occidental” see the West not as it is, but as they desire it to be; as the seeing of an orientalist, who wants to make the East a research object, in his desired manner. As a result, by creating “other” ones inside us we look at ourselves from West. Now it is necessary to ask and produce answer choices by assuming that we accept all of these: May the making of Istanbul the culture capital create a spontaneous change at lives of the other face of Istanbul, millions of humans belonging to “service sector” growing rapidly for that white collars can consume much more and live a more sterile life; or a slight change at their life area?