Beyoğlu is a wider municipality that also includes Taksim Square, a place which is very important politically for Turkey. In 2013, the Gezi Riots had spread from Taksim Square to the whole country. The name Gezi comes from a park in Taksim that the government wanted to demolish, and instead build a shopping mall that would resemble an Ottoman barracks, which was there centuries ago. It was an ideological and symbolical move for the current government to erase the republic past and awaken an empire past... and it's still in progress.
Beyond their ideological aggression, what really mattered to me (and to the groups that sparked the nationwide riots) were the diminishing green areas in the city. For this project, I wanted to look at Beyoğlu in that sense and literally went out and looked for soil in the area to pick up some plants. I collected the plants and brought them to the gardener of the French Palace in Beyoğlu, where I was also getting ready for another site-specific installation in the garden at the time. The gardener told me about the plants and their names. He was the perfect connection because he used to work for the Beyoğlu Municipality and knew all the plants in the city.
Ironically many of the plants were growing in concrete city furniture, rather than in the ground, because there is so little access to the earth now, except in the private gardens of embassies, consulates, etc. Even though I live here, I hadn't noticed that it was that desperate.
The Follower series looked out at a city which is shaped by an aggressive neoliberal economy that leaves no space for nature. They were also placed out in the urban sphere with their own sense of fragility, and they claimed a presence in a time when daily life was heavily affected by the terror attacks and inner conflicts of the country. Therefore the series has many layers reflecting this urban shift, not only environmental but also socio-political.