Topkapi Street Market

Participation in socio-spatial processes, for which the informal market situated amidst the hustle and bustle of Istanbul stands, echoes the performance – used as a metaphor by Ernesto Laclau – at which we always arrive too late. We live as bricoleurs in a world of imperfect systems whose rules we co-determine and transform by retracing them. It is in this very moment, according to Laclau, that we find the key to (acts of) emancipation: in the middle of a performance that has started unexpectedly, we search for mythical and impossible origins but are unable to rise above the impossible task facing us. What counts, however, is that we struggle and strive to arrive at decisions that have to be made because there is no superordinate monitoring or control system. Running counter to the radical foundation of a democratic society and operational structures sketched out in the great narrations of modernity, a model of political praxis is taking shape that is continuing to develop through a plurality of acts of democratisation (4). At Topkapı market, we only know that the minibus we try to stop by waving it down really is going to stop once we are inside it.

(1) Suha Özkan, "The welcoming speech of the President of the 22nd UIA World Congress of Architecture," Programme, (Istanbul: UIA 2005), 10f.
(2) Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul. Memories and the City (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 245f.
(3) ibid., 231-2.
(4) Ernesto Laclau, Emancipation(s) (London and New York: Verso, 1996), 79-82.