Visitors around the Baştarda installation.Similar to Darzanà, Baştarda is also a hybrid word. Derived from bastardo, Baştarda is a cross between a galley and a galleon and is propelled by oars and sails. As a symbol of Mediterranean hybridity, Baştarda creates a bridge between the two shipyards, one left to rot away in the megacity of Istanbul, the other springing to life only at certain times of the year in the museum-city that is Venice.
The Ottoman imperial arsenal on the Golden Horn, partly in diminishing use, partly evacuated and deteriorating, is one of many “frontiers” in present day Istanbul, not only because it is on the waterfront, but also because it has the potential of becoming a battlefront between different urban actors. Venice and Istanbul, the twin harbors of the past with comparable populations and similar architectural heritage, have drifted apart, one to become a well-preserved museum city coping with problems of outgoing migration and the other into a pulsating mega-city suffering from continuous incoming migration.
Detail from Baştarda. Darzanà’s main theme raises the question of whether it is possible to transform borders, fronts and other spaces of conflict into thresholds and spaces of consensus. In this vein, Baştarda becomes a vessel of frontier infringement. She came to Venice, and she will eventually go back to Istanbul, travelling back and forth, just as the languages, the architectural forms, and people of the Mediterranean, have done throughout history. Reporting from Darzanà, one can announce the futility of demarcations on the seas and in between the words.
Detail from "Baştarda" at the exhibition "Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel" In Istanbul, Baştarda was constructed beneath a reproduction of the wooden trusses of the hall in Sale d’Armi of Venice shipyard that hosts the Pavilion of Turkey. Measuring 30 metres long and weighing four tons, the vessel was built from more than 500 pieces including seven kilometres of steel cable and abandoned materials found on site including wooden moulds, discarded furniture, signboards and boats. In April, the components were shipped to Sale d’Armi, where Baştarda was re-constructed in May for the Pavilion of Turkey. When La Biennale closes in November 2016, Baştarda will continue her journey and she will eventually become the centrepiece of a museum of arsenal, when the site is opened to public in Istanbul.
A vessel, perhaps the last to be built in a deserted and desolate volti (shipshed) of Istanbul arsenal, was cut into pieces, to travel to Venice and then to be re-mounted in Sale d’Armi, in a volti of similar proportions. This vessel carries the stories of a common heritage, to initiate an architectural encounter and to transform the frontiers of the past and present into thresholds and zones of negotiation for projections of future.
Title of the exhibition: Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel
Curators: Feride Çiçekoğlu, Mehmet V. Kütükçüoğlu, Ertuğ Uçar
Curatorial collaboration: Cemal Emden, Namık Erkal
Project team: Caner Bilgin, Hande Ciğerli, Gökçen Erkılıç, Nazlı Tümerdem, Yiğit Yalgın
Tote bag design: Hüner Aldemir
Commissioner: İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV)