Alican Durbaş

Manuel Beltran

Pim A. Van Der Heiden


Humans have controlled the flow of water for centuries. Water is transported, processed, cleaned and regulated. For drinking or irrigation of our fields. It’s force is used to grind wheat for our fresh morning bread. Water to clean, to share and to interact with each other. To reunite with the land it divides, we have built bridges and float on their surfaces.

We have been transforming the natural environment to fill human needs, which is undeniably a reasonable end. Transforming what nature gives us in service of human life. The methods, as means to this end, and the sustainability of these methods are however, questionable. Nevertheless, over the last few centuries, we have accepted this information of nature to fit human needs, since water is unequivocally essential for human development. To provide water for everybody is regarded as a morally ethical goal within this transformation.

But something has changed in the way we transform our environment into a (for humans) more beneficial one. Not only how but also for whom has changed. The goal of the transformation is no longer to benefit the general population.

The goal now is an injection into a capitalist system, which can be blind to the needs of the human population as well as to the needs of the population as well as to the needs other life with which we share our habitat.

“We have sacrificed the distribution of clean drinking water to build a dam that provides electricity to the factories.”

This question is not limited to the context of preservation of the natural environment. It is not just about closing a park, cutting a tree, draining a river or building a dam. It goes beyond these borders and inevitably transcends the political arena.

Istanbul is the quintessential example of  such an uncontrolled impulse. The development of Constantinople shapes the border between Europe and Asia.

It is a place where the transformation of the environment has served the political interests of a capitalist elite for too long.

The Bosphorusriver has been used as political element of play in the division of the two continents and in the supply of water to the city. In recent years, the destruction of public and green spaces has received priority as part of the oppressive strategy adopted by the government. Bridges and ferries that one day connected the people of two continents across the Bosphorus, are now policy-instruments that the government uses to separate the protesters and to cut communications. In short, to isolate and divide.

These artworks are a wake-up call consisting of a series of latent realities; 3 projects that have taken place only a few months before the outbreak of the protests in Istanbul, which are spreading to the rest of Turkey at the closing of the issue.

In #49, Lifeline and Lost Canals by re-articulating old water structures the works commemorate the solidified, dead veins that once connected the water network body.

Text by Manuel Beltrán

Plastic Crowds,  Issue #1 Cultural Bubbles, Summer 2013

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