Migratory + Multinational: Istanbul 2/2

The diversity of cultures and people is in constant flux in Istanbul, just like the waters of the Bosporus. As the conclusion of the ERC-funded research project, the METROMOD team went on the trail of artistic exile in the largest metropolis of today’s Turkey.

Sea view from the Taut House


Bruno Taut Mansion

One of the highlights of METROMOD’s research trip to Istanbul was the visit to the Bruno Taut House (1938) in Istanbul’s prestigious Ortaköy neighbourhood. Located at a hill with a panoramic view of the Bosporus the Berlin architect Bruno Taut (1885-1938) designed this house for himself in his second place of exile Istanbul after being appointed to head the architecture department at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts. We are very grateful to the current private owners of the house and Zeynep Kuban for being able to visit one-storey building incorporating vernacular motifs like the pagoda-style roofs.

City tour along the sites of Russian-speaking exiles

Taut was only one of many emigrants whose presence METROMOD followed in Istanbul. METROMOD team member Ekaterina Aygün led a special city tour. She researches Russian-speaking émigré artists in Constantinople/Istanbul. On site in Karaköy, Galata and the Pera (today’s Beyoğlu) district, we learned about her groundbreaking findings. We were amazed by fine restaurants and clubs founded by Russian emigrés living in Turkey.

Furthermore, we explored the hotels where some of the émigrés stayed and interacted with locals (including the Grand Hotel des Londres), interacted with locals (for instance, the Tokatlıyan Hotel); exhibited artworks (the Pera Palace Hotel). A special moment was the visit of the exhibition “Occupied Istanbul”. Ekaterina Aygün contributed essential parts on Russian-speaking artists to the museum show.

Book Launch Urban Exile

At the end of our stay in Istanbul, we also had the preview of METROMOD’s second book “Urban Exile”. We would like to thank the team of the art space Kırmızı Kapı (The Red Door). Here we presented the contents of our new book and gave a reception for interested parties. This was even more enriching, as one of the co-founders of the independent space Seza Sinanlar Usla also contributed to Urban Exile.

With a lot of joy in our luggage and a little longing for the wide views into the history and the sea of Istanbul, the last weeks of the METROMOD research project are now beginning.

Seza Sinanlar Uslu welcoming METROMOD at Kırmızı Kapı (The Red Door)
Seza Sinanlar Uslu during the book preview holding up "Urban Exile"