In an Istanbul Parking Lot
It’s generally not my style to start off a piece by referencing Michel Foucault. It’s actually not really my style to mention Foucault at all. But I’m going to do it now because I am compelled to write about two things happening in Istanbul in a parking lot of the (ex) National Television station (TRT)—Istanbul Fashion Week and the 5th Bouquiniste Festival—which bring to mind his idea of heterotopic space.
Foucault uses the term heterotopia to describe spaces (real or imagined,) which have more meaning than meets the eye, or to allow the original usage of an area (building, field, parking lot) disappear to approximate a utopia It can be a real place that includes lots of different places within it. But I suppose current architects and urban theorists could also use this term to signify spaces whose use is adapted and different from its original purpose--like a hardware mall inside an old mosque.
Like a Circus
As an ex-circus performer, I always thought of circuses as heterotopic spaces. Usually the place where the tent is set up with a traveling show is normally used as a parking lot. So, on my way to and from work this week, I got excited to see a big white tent being erected in the pay lot next to the television station in the busy Pera neighborhood. I kept my eye on it and two days later was rewarded when I learned it was to house the Istanbul Fashion Week festivities.
At the same time, directly adjacent to this tent in another part of the same parking lot, banners went up declaring the 5th Annual Bouquiniste Festival (5. Sahaf Festivali). Then the old book and paper sellers began setting up their wares in the many booths erected in the lot. Where are all the cars supposed to park? I approximate there are over 250 homeless cars circling the city right now.
“İstanbul, where empires were born, becomes a bridge between the past and future with the platform Istanbul Fashion Week creates. While supporting fashion designers and brands on the other hand IFW aims to change the situation of the city on the fashion map positively.”
I’m not sure, if making Istanbul Fashion more global is the goal, why the IFW would not have hired a native English speaker to at least proof-read their English website, but they apparently didn’t think it was important that their mission make sense.
What the conservative government likes
Like the fashion-lovers next door, they too look out across the street and see locals and tourists walk a heavily trod path. The Büyük Londra, the dry cleaners, a design store, a restaurant, the Italian Cultural center, the Point restaurant, the Maramara Pera Hotel all pass by in a blur for the casual stroller.
And this is much of the charm in a city like Istanbul—you can call it what you want, and write as many theories about urban planning and human geography as you like—but in the end it all comes down to putting a bunch of random and exciting things in a parking lot.