Copyright 2007-2016
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YHT Piece
Performance, 2014-2015

“YHT” translates as “High-Speed Train”, is one of the Erdogan’s grand projects, and carries their common characteristics: It is poorly constructed, serves to strengthen the community of AKP supporters, and is billed as a symbol of “New Turkey” being built by this administration. The most significant aspect of this “New Turkey” is the violent polarization of society in which viewpoints and lives other than one’s own is vehemently disregarded as false and wrong.

YHT Piece takes place on the escalator where the YHT arrivals first encounter Istanbul. The escalator culture of standing on the right and walking on the left was adopted organically in the first subways of the city, but met with heavy resistance in the later subways of the outer districts, including where the YHT station is located. So, what culture of Istanbul do travellers enter into and reproduce during their stay?

In YHT Piece, Kocagoncu acts as an actuator to establish a culture of respect towards others, reflected in the way the escalator is used. In performance, the piece is experienced as the artist’s run-of-the-mill request to make way. This crafted request takes place twice a week and is secretly documented via her smartphone. In exhibition, a selection of this documentation is viewed in a series of 30-second videos on tablet-sized screens that are ordered chronologically and played in sync. This selection charts out the changes in the reception of the request and in the culture of the escalator.

The complete videodocumentation of the work is currently being uploaded to this YouTube channel.