PUBLICation as agency mode

2010/03/12 — 2010/03/14

Together with you as Rhyzome members, our local partners - the community of Gülsuyu/ Gülensu (Istanbul) - as well as Istanbul experts (sociologists, media specialists, artists, activists, etc. we would like to problematize the issue of "publication" in our project and with regard to the Rhyzome network as a whole. We consider this as a chance to rethink the notion of publication as a form of "agency" during the project, rather than simply a final project documentation and deliverable to the EC. The workshop aims to reconsider issues of authorship, ownership, ethical use of material, access, language, format, printing, and publishing.


During our work in the neighbourhood and Istanbul as a whole we have realized that it is necessary to bring tangible "interim products" into the public domain in order to show beyond doubt who we are, what the project is and what forms of knowledge are being generated. These can take the form of a neighbourhood magazine, a series of small publications, flyers, etc. in addition to our local currently under construction. Yet, the question remains whether it is possible to productively use the tension between a multiplicity of different "agent" formats and the "institutional" coherence of a book. This tension reflects both the different cultural practices and the diverse audiences in which our project is located. We assume that all of you face similar issues and urgencies in your local projects. It will be interesting to start a genuine conversation, which will help us to consider the possibilities of sharing tools, joint strategies or simply learning from each others experience.

Istanbul context

Those of you who have joint the Field Trip, previous workshop or are otherwise familiar with Istanbul will understand the high degrees of polarization that characterize the spatial, social, political and cultural fabric of the city. "Publishing" particularly in print media is reflecting this polarization. The energy invested in this sector is striking. Istanbul has a wealth of small publishing houses (many exist only for a few months, change names, operate with no or low budgets), political pamphlets, magazines, flyer and poster campaigns which operate on local and city wide levels. Yet most serves a particular target audience, serving already existing prejudices and expected needs. The results are somewhat "predictable" and authors and readers of particular media belong to the same social, political and cultural groupings. What is absent is a language of mediating between the different narratives of the city. Is such a language possible or will one repeat the classic, often described and critizised split between external experts and local informants? What is our position on authorship? Who speaks?

Our project Cultural Agencies sits awkwardly between normally strictly divided ad distant spheres - Istanbul's central cultural bubble and intellectual/ artistic scene - and local post-gecekondu neighbourhoods. We consider the awkwardness of this position its main strength and tool. What publication formats can help us to explore the potentialities of this in-betweenness further and avoid the trap of yet another pleasing art&urbanism documentation sitting comfortably in European bookshops?

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