from Istanbul
Original post 15th October 2010

You’d have thought, after spending two weeks house-hunting, practically full time, I would now only see Kiralik or ‘to rent’ signs with a vague feeling of relief that I now have somewhere to live, and don’t have to deal with any more tea offering smarm-merchant estate agents. I’m not a fan.

But, I’m finding it hard to ignore the thousands of empty spaces in this city. I’m not talking about derelict buildings in dodgy parts of town – though there are plenty of those too – but unused, good condition shop spaces in some of the most fashionable and central parts of Istanbul.

And it’s hard not to wonder, when we are paying only £530 per month for a furnished flat slap bang in the middle of the European city (that would cost, I think, upwards of £1500 in London) how much they can really charge for a tiny room that nobody wants…

And if you got just a tiny-wee-bit of funding, the things you could do with a space like that.

One day I would very much like to have a theatre. I have it all planned out: the building will probably be an old cinema. So, there’ll be this grand proscenium arch and a really good studio theatre, and some rehearsal space. A good bar with cheap food and live music (Jojo McCourt, collaborator, friend, old lady and other co-Gogglette, has already volunteered to be in charge of this. All other positions are still up for grabs) I’d like to have a bike shop somewhere in the there too.

For now, I’m not thinking so big. A space that is flexible, a white room – gallery, cinema, performance space, workshop space. A fridge, a kettle, some speakers, a projector and a couple of chairs. Some good people. We’ll open it up a few days a week with an exhibition, offer people a cup of tea, get them involved [start a revolution], organise some gigs. Maybe some parties with performance art hair dressers; I’ve been inspired ever since seeing some amazing street performers doing just this in Edinburgh years ago, I’d love to know who they were. Scratch nights. Just the usual things, but my own. Big ideas/small scale.

The prospect of the space being a short-lived venture surprisingly only serves to make me keener. It’s okay for things to end. And what better time to fail?

A friend of mine (who writes a fantastic blog) worked this summer for an extremely short lived but extravagant venue. Salon d’Ete closed it’s doors at the start of September after a wild-sounding season of burlesque and swing music. I never made it there but heard lots about it. Apparently the building may now be demolished. It was once a chapel; I wonder what they will build in its place?

Surely there is something good about the recycling of space. Especially when recycling of anything else is almost non-existent here.

So right now, I’m scoping. And if anything does happen, if [if, if] kiralik becomes empty room, if painting and scrubbing give way to sign painting and late night music, if funding arrives miraculously or I find a winning lottery ticket in the gutter – would you like to come to my venue?