Addressing the overuse of resources, land degradation, and various forms of exploitation, this long-term project centers on the impact of our food production and consumption habits. It seeks to shift climate change paradigms by restoring traditional and indigenous ways of sourcing food and aims to strengthen food security, ecological sustainability, and cultural diversity as a crucial response to the loss and damage brought about by modernization and climate change.
"Unbroken Rivers - A story on foodways and knowledge production" addresses the intangible knowledge loss related to foraging, fishing, and herding practices. Over the years, these invaluable practices have been depleted due to the relentless march of mass industries, colonialism, the depopulation of rural areas resulting from migration to urban centers, and the adverse impacts of climate change. In response to these challenges, the project seeks to revive and document these traditional ways of sourcing food and look for ways to implement them in today’s food systems through artistic and curatorial methodologies.
The project will work to combat and repair these losses by collaborating with indigenous communities and traditional knowledge holders, and will serve as a tool to instill pride and resilience within these groups leading to building communities and affinities. Consequently, particular importance will be given to the identification and understanding of complex patterns of power dynamics and the rights of knowledge reproduction/sharing.
The project draws inspiration from my upbringing on the south coast of Turkey; an overexploited region due to tourism, agriculture, and overfishing juxtaposed with traditional know-how of herding and foraging. Further influence comes from my project Montemero Art Residency in Almeria, Spain, known for its challenges related to mass agriculture and migrant labor exploitation. Witnessing these dynamics firsthand has driven my commitment to delve deeper into the interconnected concepts of climate crises, cultural resilience & intersectionality, and knowledge preservation.
Building on these experiences, I have made a deliberate decision to explore these concepts more thoroughly. I initiated the research project on food and situated knowledge in Swedish Sapmi during a curatorial residency. Engaging with Sami reindeer herders and foragers, I conducted interviews and meetings, delving into the political dynamics and challenges shaped by environmental shifts. Subsequently, I extended this research to Berlin, where I held participatory workshops on foraging and gardening. The workshops served as tools to decolonize and reclaim urban landscapes and ecological narratives, particularly from the perspectives of BIPOC and individuals with migration backgrounds. Central to this exploration was the recognition of the wealth of knowledge accumulated by migrant communities—a valuable resource that deserves acknowledgment and study.
These experiences serve as crucial foundations for my current project. Motivated by a desire to deepen my understanding, I am now concentrating on the knowledge surrounding the Mediterranean basin, with a specific emphasis on traditional fishing practices. The growing vulnerability of the Mediterranean basin underscores the need for sustainable approaches deeply rooted in this situated knowledge. I believe a comprehensive understanding of these practices, coupled with artistic narratives, is essential, especially for those who view the sea solely as a resource to exploit.
The initial phase of my research will start in two distinct locations, where I have established connections with organizations deeply engaged with local fishermen. The first location is the west coast of Turkey, where I am collaborating with the Yolda Initiative, and the second is Sicily, where Salmastra is a key partner. As the research progresses, I aim to extend its scope to various points across the Mediterranean, leveraging their networks to address broader Mediterranean communities.
A pivotal aspect of my research involves multifaceted approaches, including conducting interviews, recording oral histories, documenting practices through multimedia, and facilitating knowledge-sharing workshops and participatory performances to map out the intricate know-how of these communities. Another significant facet of the research is the collaboration with artists, particularly those from the respective communities and the most affected areas. This collaboration aims to deepen the dialogue and create artistic narratives that reflect the unique experiences and challenges faced by these communities.