Non-Pedigrees constitute art IRL. Non-Pedigrees are those graphical, spatial, and medial forms that can still be found in Istanbul. Non-Pedigrees contrast to the self-reproducing International Style that is called contemporary architecture, design, or art. Non-Pedigrees contrast to those forms that not only represent the global cultural system, but also global capitalism (for example müteahhit). They have not sacrificed local identity to modernity, they are still somehow specific. Non-Pedigrees contrast to the big player forms in attention, in appreciation, and in cultural reflection. They are not considered as intended or authored; they are not recognized at all – if ever, as trash or kitsch.
Non-Pedigrees are leftovers, marginal, often too-small-to-be-noticed forms and spaces that live their life below radar level. They are usually not product of any adequate profession – be that art, architecture, or design. They have been there for the ordinary and common life. They have been there for a business that has already lost the competition within global economy, but that carries on. Non-Pedigrees do not comply with aesthetic or qualitative standards and fashions.
But they are valuable in at least three points, referring to the international global style. They contain the local, the romantic, and the glamorous. Insofar, they are able to create an organic public sphere, open for participation, business, and talk. Thus, they embody spaces, essential for political, social, economic and aesthetic negotiation.
The Romantic > Istanbul > Adopted Landscapes
The tensions with globalized economy, with biological and technological reality are more than noticeable in Istanbul, where the gap between the rich and the poor seems huge in every aspect of life. However, there are preserved local microcosms and habits that ignore these problems and that are arguably romantic in a productive way (not consumerist like in theme park-like housing projects). Their forms combine functional with impractical elements, creating organisms that achieve somehow autonomous aesthetic statements. Of course, these statements are raw and barbaric from a perspective of high culture: they are collections of sunny beaches, palms, mountains, cows, and Porsches. But these statements do imply what Hegel observed for romantic art and architecture: they contain a principle of subjectivity, of particularity and individuality, not in the singular element, but within the overall sentiment and longing . Nature, kitsch landscapes, palms and beaches exist for decorative and atmospheric reasons, not for product placement. Above all, there is something comfortable and relaxing within the most humble scenes that display pragmatism and pose at the same time.
Spaces are shared, where there is almost no room, hospitality is exhibited even to dirty street animals; there are clichés, dreams, fragments of better lives that also improve the actual existence – if only for a sense of romantic humor. People offer tea, Nescafe, bananas, and an Atatürk calendar to us.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik
Grocery, Öz Karadeniz Market, Yıldıztabya, Istanbul
The grocery, bakkal shop where you can buy everything, sells nutella and fake Nutella (Sarelle) side by side. Everything is in perfect order. The shape of the food counter and the colors of the food matches the stream of the Huangguoshu Waterfall, framed at the rear wall. The owner thinks that this image goes very well with his shop – even though he doesn’t know where it was photographed.
Meatball Restaurant (Köfteci), Untitled Restaurant, Akarsu, Istanbul
At the entrance of the restaurant, selling grilled meatballs, there is a plastic poster of the Swiss Alps, a surreal collage of spring and winter of the same landscape, reminding Magritte’s Empire of Light. The blue/green poster is a big contrast to the red/pink restaurant-space. Its frame is printed, so that there is no need of a wooden frame. There are even cows. The tiny TV was showing a film with Türkan Şoray, who made a lot of films thematizing: girl is poor, boy is rich: boy falls in love with girl.
Barber, Melih Erkek Kuaförü, Karlıtepe, Istanbul
The vibrant red and pink furniture of the very narrow corridoresque barber shop is complemented by the huge all-over wallpaper of a mediterranean beach; Ölüdeniz, reflected by the mirrors at the opposite side. Every mirror is showing a part of the beach. Beside the elegantly curved beach, there are 9 clocks (7 on the wall, 2 on the table), and 5 calendars, perhaps counting the minutes until – what? The humorous Barber tells that “he is a big fan of Orhan Gencebay“, who is famous with his nostalgic and melancholic lyrics, for example, the song “Batsın Bu Dünya” meaning “This World Should Sink”. Gencebay being called the advocate of arabesque music denies this classification and calls his style independent turkish music: “even sociologists misapply the term ,” says Gencebay. He adds: “I am talking about melancholy, fatalism and drama, my music has nothing to do with arabesque.”
Barber, Kuaför Mustafa, Eyüp, Istanbul
In the microscopic kitchen area of ‘Berber Faik’, the image functions as a virtual window into the Bolu Province, where he comes from. The teapot seems to get its water directly from the fresh water lake Abant. In a very democratic way, there are hung up fan posters of Galatasaray, Besiktaş and Fenerbahçe footballers around the sinks.
Barber, Berber Faik, Eyüp, Istanbul
There are not only two goldfish and a swordtail in the tiny shop, but also two canary birds and a cat, crunching brekkies. Documented by photographs, there is also a horse, a squirrel, and a lion. The barber is drinking tea with a friend in this living still life. He is really kind to everyone especially to his animals. The fish recently got a new lighting in their aquarium.
Greengrocer, Untitled Greengrocer (Manav), Aksaray, Istanbul
The greengrocer does not leave decorative decisions to chance: the pink sunset over Tahiti is placed above exotic fruits, like pineapples and coco nuts. Over it, there is a framed quote headlined with “Word of Advice” written by the 13th century Persian mystic and poet Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (مولانا جلال الدین محمد رومی), who said: “What you seek is seeking you.”
Barber, Yavuz Erkek Kuaförü, Dörtyol, Istanbul
The space combines wood with pastel shades: the walls are pistachio, the chairs are lilac. It is a gentleman’s business that offers tea to a worker, who enters the room to limber up. The painting, one of the berber tells us, depicts a phantasy place. “It is a dream landscape,” he says. An old tape of Müslüm Gürses is laying on the table. He points at the tape: “and this is the dream music, best to listen to on tape”. The other barber of the shop prefers Bülent Ersoy, because her music is sad and happy at the same time. At the beginning of the singer’s career, Bülent Ersoy, aka Diva or Abla (“Sister” in Turkish), wasn’t accepted as a transsexual musician; now she is a big star.
Barber, As Erkek Kuaförü, Moda, Istanbul
The walls of the light green painted Barber shop are covered with 36 framed images of very romantic landscape sceneries. The floor is painted in blue creating an underwater atmosphere together with the walls. Most of the hanging images are illustrating heavenly good weather with palm trees, sea, beach, mountains, sunset, wooden boat, … no geographic limitations. A poster of a small island called Koh Nang Yuan at Koh Tao (in the Gulf of Thailand) is placed directly opposite the entrance; it is the biggest image in the shop.