..........................................................................................................................................................









..........................................................................

Didem Özbek (TR)
Upstairs/Downstairs

On a housing facade hangs ropeways with baskets to be filled with food, keys or whatever needs to be sent up or down. Istanbul-based artist Didem Özbek has transferred this system for easing daily life of Istanbul streets to Ålekistevej to add interaction to daily life here and see if the residents can also benefit from its practicality.


How would you introduce your work?

Didem Özbek My art practice is very much engaged in daily life. For Ålekistevej, I wanted to create an installation that involves the participation of the local people. It consists of ropes with straw baskets mounted according to a Turkish technique. In Istanbul, I live in a five-story house without an elevator. We use such a ropeway as a hand elevator and it's really practical, especially if you are in a hurry or don't want to walk up and down the stairs all the time. Here, I have installed it on a five-story apartment building on Ålekistevej using Copenhagen bicycle baskets made of straw. These can be pulled up and down the facades of the apartment building and people can fill them with something they have forgotten upstairs at home or something they need to send up home. You just need someone at home to pull the rope and the other person has to meet the basket on street level.

If people enjoy using it, it would be a success and could spread to the rest of Copenhagen. It creates human interaction and communication, and it will definitely bring an attraction to Ålekistevej. Even if you don't use it yourself, it is always fun to watch your neighbours using it.

How does this project suit Ålekistevej?

DO Coming from Istanbul, I feel like time has stopped at Ålekistevej. I wanted to develop an art project here, something that would break the stability of the street. Everything seems very constant at Ålekistevej, with a certain form and order. The balconies look very nice, but nobody has personalised them as in Istanbul. Official rules might limit personal applications, and sometimes I wish the control mechanisms in Istanbul would work that well. But when you walk on the street you don't get any idea of who's living at Ålekistevej. By adapting this local technique from Istanbul, can I start communicating with people here? Can I add a new function? Would this function then be globalised? I think that these baskets can work well in any city containing apartment buildings without elevators. But more importantly, I would like to experience who is living in my neighbourhood and communicate with them through this performance.

Do you think art has a potential to act as a part of life?

DO Daily life practices are important to me and the practice of PiST/// Interdisciplinary Project Space, a non-profit art space that Osman Bozkurt and me run together. PiST/// is intentionally located away from the art districts of Istanbul. We never call what we do art or aim to teach anyone what art is, especially not to the local audience living or working around us. But communicating with them is an important part of our engagement there, and daily life practices are inspiring to many of the PiST/// projects for survival reasons. Watching, experiencing and practising daily life helps us develop new projects.

How does it affect your work that you come from another country and culture and enter a foreign context? How can the global and the local enter a productive exchange?

DO I do not understand Danish. The daily dynamics and priorities of people living in Copenhagen are totally alien to me. Two months’ residency anywhere in the world would not allow an artist to understand the local dynamics in full detail. But when you come from another culture and things are alien to you, you feel the similarities and differences. There is a distance between you, the neighbourhood and the people, and you have to respect what is new for you. Istanbul is a very crowded and chaotic city, and that is why it seems very stable to me here. Ålekistevej might be a busy street, yet calm for me. I wanted to bring something positive from my own environment that people here could really benefit from. So I imported a daily life practice that I use myself at home to question whether my local practice can act globally and be applied elsewhere as an artwork.

Ålekistevej 108-112. Fully accessible

Photo: Osman Bozkurt (#3) and Malene Nors Tardrup