The last few days have seen the students getting to know their site for the studio project (Kabataş Pier) and getting more acquainted with the Bosphorus – that spectacular ribbon of watery (and jellyfishy) awesome-ness that divides Istanbul into it’s European and Asian Sides. As part of their “City in Visual Culture” Class, they are documenting – for the first thematic of the course – an aspect of the Bosphorus – it’s ecology, it’s urban and peri-urban edges, it’s infrastructures (both artificial and natural), it’s expression through literature, art and photography, and so on. They’ve started on their research and analysis – and as part of both, practical excursions and field trips are necessary. They’ve been walking it’s edges, taking inter-city ferries, recording sound and video, drawing and sketching and becoming Bosphorous-o-philes (it’s not that difficult to become one, really). The Bosphorous though, is much more than a sea-way for north south shipping or east-west city water-traffic; it embodies both a living organicity as well as a cultural and historical touchstone for Istanbullus as well as the ever-constant visitor. Seen through Melling’s panoramas of the city or Ara Güler’s timeless photographs, the Bosphorous is… well, it just really, you know… is.
We’ll be exploring it’s southern boundary soon (the Marmara), but we took a long Ferry trip up to experience and encounter it’s northern edge – the Black Sea. Our Ferry left at Eminönü Pier at 10:30 and we criss-crossed the Boğaziçi, back and forth – amazed (always) at how long Istanbul goes on for – until we docked at the village of Anadolu Kavağı. We hiked up through the village – through a spectacular cemetery and found ourselves (I was a little out of breath) at the very top, where an accommodating local let us through a locked gate through the Fortress on a high hill (Joshua’s Hill) above the town and overlooking Macar Bay and the inlet to the Black Sea. Held successively over the years by the Byzantines, the Genoese and the Ottomans, not much remains of Yoros Fortress. The Fortess occupies one of the narrower points on the Bosphorous (like the Rumeli Hisar and the Andolou Hisar – which we passed going up) and a chain could be strung across the mouth – effectively cutting off access.
The views were breathtaking – looking north to the Black Sea, making out the faint silhouettes of ships large and small, and south, to the inexorably growing city of Istanbul, with its visible skyscrapers, cranes and creeping urbanism. We walked back down into the village and had a quick lunch (Köfte, Fried Mussels, Stuffed Mussels, çorba – lentil soup + the now requisite “Magnum” ice-cream bar – or in some cases, ahem… bars, plural). Our trip back to Istanbul took an hour and a half, and we returned to Sultanahmet a little Black Sea windblown, but much better acquainted with the Bosphorous.
Students also attended the opening gallery exhibition for Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week last night – but that’a whole other story.
Rachel and Keara, Drawing on the boat.
Arrival at the Black Sea.
“There once was a River here!”
Our intrepid crew on the Black Sea. (Milestone # 3 unlocked: no-one fell off Yoros Castle into the Bosphorous, but Juan – sorry dude, I have to say it – ripped his pants climbing up for the photo)
The view back towards Istanbul
Everyone drawing on the boat.
Satavee and Sarah… yes, drawing on the boat.