Exploring Languages in Urban Spaces
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Resources to explore the City in Translation

Yearning for Turkish: the Making Of

For the first time - and two years exactly after its inception - City in Translation has presented an exhibition: Yearning for Turkish.

The exhibition has been commissioned as part of the TransARTation programme. The aims of this project are to foster community involvement in investigating how translation stimulates and provokes the production of text-objects and works of visual art, and to make visible the kinds of conversations that can occur between different cultures, languages and modes of expression. 

The moment I was asked about creating an exhibition around City in Translation, I knew I had to find a red thread and not just throw a few images and texts just because they fit into the overall theme. I wanted to tell a story. I found my focus: the Turkish language.

The exhibition images ready to be packed and travel to Scotland.

The exhibition images ready to be packed and travel to Scotland.

I had been collecting images showing the Turkish language across cities I visited since the very beginning. I would share them on the City in Translation Instagram account. The number of moments I captured started growing, and I knew I had a specific theme there, but moreover, a focused search that has been embedded in my artistic practice. As I looked at all these images, I understood this was some sort of "yearning" - for a language and everything that language brings and means. Yearning for Turkish was born. 

I realised that to make an exhibition, I needed to move out of the online space and work on paper. So I decided to print all the selected photos - first in my printer, in low quality, just to have an idea of how they will look spread out on a table. Then I decided to start a sketchbook. 

In a sketchbook, you are free. You can write and collage whatever you like. It is a safe space where you can experiment, without any judgment - especially from yourself. These few days playing on paper allowed me to decide on the story I wanted to tell throughout the exhibition. 

It was also important for me to document every step of the way on social media. 

After the sketchbook came the actual printing. The twenty selected photographs were printed on 30x45cm mat paper and stuck on 1mm thick panels.

And I printed the texts myself at home on heavier A4 white paper. I designed the page layout myself. 

Then the next step was flying to Scotland, and hanging my work on the walls. But it wasn't as easy... Following some ups and downs during the mounting of the Yearning for Turkish exhibition - initially on windows - we finally moved it to another space where the photographs and texts would be much easily accessible to the visitors, (and basically won't fall down like leaves, as it is what happened when we stuck them on windows). In the end, I was very happy and visitors too. 

Initial set-up with me looking fairly happy but tired:

Second and final set-up, with me jumping with joy:

Special thanks to my dear friends Colin and Peggy for being my first ever visitors. (Photo of me jumping with joy by Peggy Hughes). 

I have learned a lot from this experience. Logistics and practicalities aside, it allowed me to rethink the focus of City in Translation and its many creative opportunities. I was also told by a few people that Yearning for Turkish could become a book, so I am investigating that possibility right now. However, I would like it to be more than just printing the same texts and photographs: if Yearning for Turkish can indeed become a book, I would like it to go further with the themes I am investigating, and there sure is so much more to tell. So... we'll see where that thought takes me.

For now, you can view the exhibition online.