Little stories: Tarlabasi

Tarlabasi in Istanbul reminds of old photographs: children without toys playing in the streets, transvestites who could do a PhD in marginalization, clotheslines between the houses, street vendors selling mussels, pilaf and salepi, uprooted Kurds who are full of nostalgia.
Nowadays Tarlabasi is the refuge of Syrians. A few years ago it became a home for immigrants from Nigeria. Further in the past, the first residents of this neighborhood were the minorities, Greeks and Armenians: very few of these people have remained, while the following waves of immigrants never felt like locals. Maybe they had the curse of the exiled. As soon as they started feeling like they belonged somewhere, they were faced with the monsters of gentrification. The beasts stood up like a sharp knife in the heart of the city. The neighborhood was sold-off at cut-price to the new bourgeoisie. So the workers were faced with the next stage; they became homeless. Their children had to be placed further and deeper inside the city’s grime.
Tarlabasi stayed on in the old photographs. The photographers, who will come later, will find something monotonous, colorless and plasticized in this neighborhood.

Text by Caner Yilmaz (2014)