Mapping Gentrification and Urban Resistance in Istanbul

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“Urbanization has always been a class phenomenon of some sort,” David Harvey writes in Rebel Cities. The map of every city is also the map of its (unequal) social relations. This was clear when seeing Istanbul. Passion, Joy, Fury, an exhibition that just closed its doors at MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome.


Occupying the first and second floor of the recently deceased Zaha Hadid’s impressivebuilding, the show was curated by Hou Hanru, director of the museum since December 2013, together with Ceren Erdem, Elena Motisi, and Donatella Saroli. As a result of a long-term research process, the exhibition claimed to continue the museum´s investigation about “the cultural milieu of the Mediterranean Basin and the relationships between the Middle East and Europe.” Prior to the Istanbul exhibition, the museum held an exhibition on contemporary Iranian art, and in 2017 it will host another show with Beirut as its main theme.

Istanbul. Passion, Joy, Fury succeeded in not falling into Orientalist stereotypes. Divided into chapters, the rooms followed a narrative about the metropolis’s conflicting forces. The display put two disparate views of the urban phenomenon into conflict: the city from above (gentrification and top-down development) and the city from below (social resistance and bottom-up response). continues at