MIND THE STEPS
A project at the 9th International Istanbul Biennial, 2005
In his 1969 published praise of hospitable streets, Streets for People Bernhard Rudofsky stated that climbing stairs had become an atavistic activity for modern industrialized man. In his polemic he stresses the advantages and the poetry of the stairs of the hilly city of Rome.
Istanbul, which is built on seven hills, too, has an extreme topography, which has made it difficult in many parts to build up public transport systems, like undergrounds. In many areas Istanbul is still a city of pedestrians. As a result of the intersection of steep streets and the horizontal of buildings, extreme differences of heights are created in the pavement area, which pedestrians have to surmount. For that, often complex formations of steps are necessary, which sometimes remind of geometric, minimalistic sculptures, then again rather of objects of arte povera, depending on when and how they were built. It can easily be seen that these steps have mostly been built without planning. The materials, colors and constellations are very different. Whatever was at hand was used. Ergonomic necessities were mostly only roughly considered. Sometimes there are entire ensembles of differently high and long steps, which were constructed in a playful and improvised way. These patchwork-like details can be considered as miniaturized metaphors of the constructed Istanbul.
During the Biennale selected steps in the steep streets of Beyoglu towards the Bosphorus (Galata, Karaköy) are brightly lit up.
They can function as platforms for different kinds of events at night. These could be peformances that usually take place in streets, but in the proposed installations the site and the time are unusual.