Antje Feger /
Benjamin F. Stumpf

Parl Otel, Istanbul, Lightwriting, 2,00 m x 50 m, photograph by Franz von Bodelschwingh, C-Print, 2010, 104 x 70 cm
Park Hotel, view from rooftop, photograph, 2010
Park Hotel around 1990, photograph
Collage by Adem Baba with an image of the former palace, 2010

Park Otel, Istanbul, Performance, Lightwriting, 2,00 m x 50 m

In 2010 Park Hotel was a sublime skeleton with an enormous omnipresence in the cityscape. It was only one of many deserted buildings and construction sites in Istanbul and therefore a symbol, an urban monument for a whole history and culture, a way of planning or not planning city development, which has been influenced by global and local transformation processes. The image of the construction site stands for conflicts between the municipality, economical protagonists and groups within civil society. (1) Due to ongoing processes since 1989 the ruin formed a huge gap, a blank in the centre of the city, a contrast to the lively surrounding of the Taksim Square area. In 2010 it was partly used as a parking lot, storage and garbage dump. As Ceren Oykut writes “Park Hotel stands or freezes as a monument representing our generation […]. I believe that my generation – so afraid to write, raise its voice, express an opinion, and above all read – also experiences this moment of freezing: a generation between the past and the future […]” (2)

In the beginning of the project we thought of an alternative use for the former Park Hotel. We were fascinated by the impact of this huge building and its myths. We developed concepts for interventions and created collages with huge letters or signs on the façade facing the Bosphorus. (3) Park Otel is a modified version of these first ideas. It includes the concept of informality by being written overnight – without permission. Arriving in the parking lot, we entered the dark building through narrow labyrinthine staircases sneaking up onto the rooftop. During the actual performance the enormous empty platform on the rooftop became a stage and the city the auditorium. The light writing was viewable from different parts of the city, from the Bosphorus and from the Asian side of Istanbul (e.g. Üsküdar). In the photograph we as actors vanish and the gesture becomes a manifestation of the visibility and invisibility of the deregulated, liberalized economic structures within the city.

The condition of the building formed a contrast to earlier images of this area and reflected the transformation processes within the city. Until a fire in 1911 most houses in the neighborhood were made of wood. During our research in the German Archaeological Institute across the street from the Park Hotel, we found images of the former Palace and former Park Hotel. We printed a detail of the photo by Sébah und Joiallier (around 1900), framed it and gave it as a present to Adem Baba, who was running an informal tea garden in one of the stories of the construction site. He improved the image by making small changes and included it in his collection and artfully arranged decoration.

(1) see also Pelin Tan in: Mario Pschera, Çagla Ilk, Çiçek Bacık (eds.) “Intercity Istanbul Berlin”, Forum Berlin Istanbul und Dagyeli Verlag, 2010
(2) Ceren Oykut, born 1978 in Istanbul, in: "On Standing, Giving Up and Being Buried“ in: Lapses 3, edited by Basak Senova, 2009, pavilion of Turkey, Venice Biennial. p. 12
(3) First concepts for this work were made in February 2009 in collaboration with Manuel Klauser, architect, Berlin

The work Park Otel is part of the Project PUBLIC IDEA, supported by the ECOC - European Capital of Culture 2010, Istanbul, Turkey, Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Germany, Kulturstiftung-Schleswig-Holstein, Germany