Heritage


Performance / Action in public space
Galata Bridge, Istanbul, 2004



In 2004 the international magazine on Architecture, City and Visual Culture ARCHIS started to organize "RSVP Events" in various cities around the world, each time proposing a special theme. In June 2004 a twin event was organized in Athens and Istanbul. The theme of that event was "Perversion", meant in terms of culture, history, architecture. The participants travelled together from Athens to Istanbul by sea and bus.


It is in the frame of that event that I made this performance / action at the Bridge of Galata in central Istanbul, on a Sunday afternoon when this spot is frequented by masses of people taking their Sunday walk at Bosporus.


I threw pieces of ancient type of columns with ionian style capitals – as if they were the remains of a classical ancient temple – from the bridge into the water. They were faithful replicas, made out of a light material. Some of the pieces have been decomposed in the air and fell down in an even more fragmentary form (smaller pieces of columns, the capitals alone etc).


A few seconds later instead of watching these pieces sinking in the water like it would be normal for a supposed to be heavy object, originally made by marble, these fragments of ancient columns and capitals started to flow on the surface of Bosporus. The visual result was that some ancient columns were floating on the water, taken slowly by the stream.


At that moment some children were swimming naked down the bridge and spontaneously swam up to the floating columns and capitals. They started to play with them, use them as life-jacket, jumping on them, swimming with and on them. At last they took those pieces out at the quai and assembled them as if they would reconstruct an ancient column. After building a kind of abstract structure they kicked them violently and threw them again in the water just to repeat the same game.


Amazing coincidence? This is exactly what I had visualized for that action only that it has happened spontaneously and produced exactly the narrative that I wished: about our contact with heritage, especially the historical heritage which is very often too heavy to carry –like marble– and finally may serve more like a life-jacket, like an easy excuse to our immaturity and incapacity to act in a dynamic way at present.


A special comment particularly on societies and nations with a long and "heavy" history such as Greeks and Turks. "Perversion", in this way, has been meant in terms of approaching and appropriating the historical past.