A project by Danae Stratou. Istanbul Cultural Capital of Europe 2010

A first version of Vital Space – Humanity was presented in Istanbul in 10 & 11 / 2010 at Tophane. This video installation has been Danae Stratou’s participation in the project Lives and Works in Istanbul, part of the central program of the Istanbul – Cultural Capital of Europe 2010 events. Danae Stratou was invited to participate by the Visual Arts Director, Beral Madra. Other artists who participated in the project are: Victor Burgin, Sophie Calle, Antoni Muntadas, Peter Kögler and Remo Salvadori. The shooting in Istanbul took place in April & May 2010, during Danae Stratou’s and her collaborators’ stay in the city. 

THE CONCEPT

Vital Space – Istanbul is a video project comprising two films from the city of Istanbul. One film offers a bird eye’s view of different paths connecting order and disorder, centre and suburb, privilege and dispossession, formal and informal. The second film captures from ground level a sea of people coming toward the camera in sequences filmed in different city locations (e.g. bus station, ferry boat terminal, busy streets). 

Part of the footage filmed for Vital Space – Istanbul will eventually become integrated within the wider project Vital Space – HumanityThe additional cities to be included in the broader project are: Athens, Paris, Seoul, Los Angeles, Lagos, Mumbai and Sao Paulo. 

The project is a response to the challenges posed by Globalisation and its discontents; by the plight of the environment; by the ebb and flow of massive migration movements. The project focuses on the contrast between, on the one hand, vast, empty, fragile, uninhabited spaces and, on the other, overpopulated, highly contested, urban environments. A momentous urban expansion is spawning the planet’s largest cities, as wave upon wave of migrants abandon the countryside and the periphery. Meanwhile, the surrounding economic wastelands are emptied of people and left in a state of ecological fragility.

THE INSTALLATION 

Vital Space – Istanbul was projected on a large freestanding wall (7.00mx4.00m). Both projections covered the entire surface of the wall on each side. On the one side of the wall the birds’ eye view film was projected. On the other side, the ground level film was projected. The former offers the viewer a constant outward movement, as the camera attached to the front of the helicopter relates a constant flow of images taking the viewer seamlessly across the city from the centre outwards. In contrast the ground level film offers a different dynamic since the camera is static and the constant flow of humanity is coming toward the viewer.