Cleaning Istanbul for the white Turks

The movie Wonderland (2013) by Halil Altindere shows a rappers’ protest against the government’s urban transformation project and gentrification in Sulukule, threatening its cultural heritage and destroying inhabitants’ lives. The movie was on view in ‎MoMAPS1‬ in New York.

Since several years now, Istanbul has been executing its ambitious ‘urbanisation plans’. Basically this means a big cleaning of the city – not only of the neighbourhoods but of the people as well. All those who are too poor and turbulent and who thus disturb the urban life of the new middleclass of ‘white Turks’ voting for the ruling AK Party of prime minister Erdogan, have to move to the outskirts of the city. Among them Kurds, Roma, migrants from all over Turkey, political dissidents, prostitutes and so on. Will also be cleaned away: the Kati toplu isçileri or garbage men showed on the pictures.

We interviewed them in their neighborhood Tarlabasi in the heart of Istanbul. An article about this, with pictures made by Jose Fernandes, was published in MO* magazine.

(text by Veerle Devos)



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