Thursday, June 13, 2013

Welcome to Chappulcity – Alp Tekin Babaç

13 Haziran 2013

The aesthetics of this city neither fits in the borders of post-modernism nor can be explained with orientalist arguments. It’s neither romanesque, nor gothic… This city is the city of “a few chappullers” or in short: “Chappulcity”
The actions starting against the bulldozers violating  Taksim Gezi Park turned into a country-wide revolt. Despite the heavy attacks from the police the protestors regained the Taksim Square in the 1st of June. All the colors from the social opposition captured the Taksim Square, the Gezi Park and the İstiklal Avenue. In a lot of cities, the banned squares belonged to the social opposition; and in many cities the clashes are continuing.
It all started with the “pedestrianisation of Taksim project”, followed by the “historical Artillery Quarters and shopping mall project”. In the end the actual project of “economically excluding the oppressed from the city project” coupled with the “political exclusion project” -which became clearer with the police attacks- created its own opposition against it.
This opposition stand against the AKP government as a brilliant comeback of the ones expelled from the city centers.
If the project of AKP came to life, worker Ahmet who spent years sitting on the benches in Taksim Gezi Park to relax and renovate would have to pay for this relaxation in that mall. Whereas today the worker Ahmet can go to Gezi Park and relax without paying, eat without paying or provide food for the people there just like other people are doing now.
The aesthetics of this city neither fits in the borders of postmodernism nor can be explained with orientalist arguments. It’s neither romanesque, nor gothic… This city is the city of “a few chappullers” or in short: “Chappulcity”.
Chappulcity makes clear the clues of how a city can be different from the city of the rich.
The city of the chappullers introduces an unusual city texture to the eyes looking from the outside walking from the Istiklal Avenue to the Taksim Square now, in the early days of June. Its city texture is rather ”disorderly”, asymmetric and decorated with street writings inexplicable by any known bourgeois designment principle. This aesthetic is virtually a written document of the current situation created by AKP rulership. The revolt against prohibitive AKP government is turning every empty space and walls of the city into a free billboard. These free billboards show the scale of AKP’s oppression against the freedom of expression. Just like in Picasso’s Guernica painting, the youth are literally saying “This is your handiwork!” to AKP.
While the Chappulcity is exhibiting the police vehicles in an outdoor museum, an abandoned prefab house is turned into a Revolution Museum. This museum is exceeding the limits of classical museum culture because instead of showing the past, notes to the future are written in this museum. Chappulcity has its orchard, its coffee house, its ChappulTV, market, infirmary, library, common dining places, kitchens, stages, concert areas, speaking podium, coordination table. An area called “No Tayyip Area” is established for children. In this area the artists are painting with the kids and the kids are exhibiting their work in their own way.
Let’s have a look at maybe the most important aspect of Chappulcity. There is no police in this city. Reminding that “polis” means “city” in the old languages, looking at Chappulcity, it is possible to see that a city with no police means “freedom”.
The “merry children” who throw stones at riot control vehicles are fully respectful against each other. Not only that, the mythicised “brotherhood” which AKP government has promised by constantly talking about “sensitive balances” is naturally formed in this city. Many of “bad things” AKP strived to ban are done here: People are drinking, lovers can kiss, can hold hands, everyone can paint, can read, can draw comics, can take up journalism, women can wander until late nights freely. Briefly stated: No possession, no thievery.
Another important feature of Chappulcity is that the cleaning is made with cooperation. Moreover the municipal street sweepers are joking with the people doing the cleaning. They are taking photos of the women doing cleaning.
A photo which I wasn’t able to shoot when I was strolling with a camera in my hand might give an insight about the culture of living together in this city. Kurdish youngsters doing “V sign” with their hands and saying guerilla anthem “Hildin ala sor, berxwedan jiyan” are accompanied by two women with bandanas written “We’re the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal” also doing the “V sign”. Not only this, Islamists, Alewis, Kurds, Turks, leftists, rightists, supporters of the soccer clubs Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas, Trabzonspor, heterosexuals, transsexuals, everyone in this city is together.
In the foundation of this Chappulcity; concrete, stones, cobblestone pavement, iron, and wood are used like any other city. But they were not used to build houses; instead they were used to repel riot control vehicles and form roadblocks. The residences were made with tents in this city won with wood, stones and iron. The builders of this city was not the construction workers. The builder mixture of university students, high school students and proletarianised middle-class unified and took action with the accumulated rage against their uncertain future because of precarity and intervention to their lifestyles.
Very images of Chappulcity are already being formed in Antalya Republic Square, Eskisehir Espark, Izmir and many other places…