[NetBehaviour] Overland: Turkey, floods and /ETC

Ruth Catlow ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org
Sun Sep 13 21:14:14 CEST 2009

Hi NBs

I feel a little sheepish about what I'm about to do (they are so long),
but I'm going to do it anyway to finish the series here on
Netbehaviour: )

Overland: Turkey, floods and /ETC
Back-blogging on Thursday 10th September

(or read with links and images here
http://blog.furtherfield.org/?q=node/30 )

Tuesday morning we made our way through pouring rain to Haymatlos (which
translates as Homeless), in the Taksik district of Istanbul, which is
the bar and meeting place for this year's /ETC. Everyone is running
around, busy organising things. We hear the terrible news that 40
Turkish people have died as a result of flash flooding - some not far
from Istanbul.

We meet with HelenVJ who suspends her preparations for the Upstage
Festival 090909 (due to start the following morning) to join us for
lunch at a local cafe. It's Ramadan, she explains, and so at the moment
most eateries are quiet at lunchtime and heaving with people for dinner
feasting. Lunch consists of Turkish tea, soya chicken and delicious
fresh salad.

Later in the afternoon Ruzgar, Helen and I go to collect chairs from
LAMBDA's (5th floor!) offices. Helen drove (a big white van) and Ruzgar
directed us through the narrow and steep inclines of the busy
backstreets. It was great fun and Helen's confident driving caused a
stir. Most men still appear to feel they own public space in Istanbul,
staring, hooting, calling out, offering advice. It's rare enough to find
a woman driving let alone driving a van. 

When we arrived back the venue a group people (both men and women) came
down to collect the chairs and table tops. I was aware for the duration
of my stay that Resistanbul (who published a friendly challenge to the
Istanbul Biennial in the form of an open letter) were holding long
discussion meetings to coordinate actions in preparation for the meeting
of the IMF and World Bank. This same collective of people fed us with
bounteous breakfasts and dinners: cheese omlettes, salads, spinach and
cheese pastries, herby salads, aubergine stew, rice & lentils, sweets
and chocolates.

Lots more women showed up on the first night (over the next 2 days
people arrived from Turkey, Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Spain,
France, Belgium) and I ate, drank and signed and mimed (as the only
stupid monolinguist in the group) and laughed a lot. I returned with
Aileen to our flat excited and happy.

On Wednesday morning I started to feel my DIY spirit rehydrating. /ETC
is a revelation and inspiration, as much for its open, humorous
informality as for the quality of its workshops, events and performances
including: the Upstage performances, DIY wireless microphone production
(using FM transmitters), how to make a performance from nothing,
masssage techniques to relieve tension in the trapezius muscle (the one
that takes a hammering when you spend too much time at your screen), an
introduction to Drupal, a review of women working in FOSS with a focus
on Turkey, an introduction to FOSS social media (such as that run by
Riseup.net) and the reasons to choose it over commercial services (like
Google Docs), maintaining privacy of communications and actions over the
Internet in the context of increasing state surveillance. In the
background people gradually get to know each other and solve problems

It's all low-key and very productive. In contrast with recent events in
London where I sense that the pressure (from all directions) for grass
roots organisations to rationalise, institutionalise, professionalise
and commercialise has lead to an increase in swagger, guff and time
wasting, /ETC was low on bombast and high on effective knowledge
transmission and action. I hope that when I get home I can hold on to
the wisdom of balancing strategic with soulful and smart, tactical
approaches to organisation.

My Wednesday ends enjoying three hours of Upstage Festival performances
in the Haymatlos bar watching collaborative work by international
cyberformers with approaches rooted in disciplines as diverse as
theatre, performance, VJ, live art; from restagings of Ionescu to
multimedia metalogical jams on Manuel de Landa and a thrash mashup that
re-appropriated all the players, sounds and backdrops from all other
performances. Impressed by the ongoing heckling and all manner of
participation with audiences. 

Then home through streets that are running in deep rivers of rainwater.
We drink tea, chat, and I do some writing. I go to bed late and am taken
aback by crashing thunderstorms.

We Won't Fly For Art!

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