Domestic Archeology

Covid-19 Studio Logs / 53rd Day of Isolation in Istanbul (May 4, 2020)

This video first time published on May 5, 2020 as part of "Artists in Quarantine" a project initiated by L'Internationale

A small window in my studio leads onto the rooftop; my only access to the outside world amid a group of tall buildings in one of the busiest areas of the city that has been deserted nowadays. This reminds me of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük dwellings that people entered and left by means of ladders leading to the rooftops. I spend my days recovering material remains from the neighboring old building that was being torn down, a demolition was underway before the virus locked us in. Then I meticulously clean and classify my findings, looking for fragments of individual and collective histories. A very modest collection of Marseilles roof tiles with inscribed names allow me to identify the manufacturers, some bricks, concrete, and nails... Compiling a series of photographs that was taken at the dig, Domestic Archeology chronicles my ongoing fieldwork during the days of quarantine. (Excerpt from the announcement text)

  • Project notes on Domestic Archeology _ Covid-19 Studio Logs; 
  • 53rd Day of Isolation in Istanbul (May 4, 2020) 
  • The boundaries of the public and private spheres were taken to a new dimension. In this period of global isolation, I feel like the internet and social media channels are strengthening and taking us to the next path. 
  • Everything was turned upside down. We open our private areas to the public and share them with the world. The digital world has become everything. The streets and nature embrace their original owners. In TV and internet videos, we watch mountain goats, monkeys, and hyenas that occupy the cities. There are rare times to review our relationship with the world. We now have time for everything. Books to be read for special moments to be collected with our loved ones… 
  • Is this a dystopia? Utopia? This is what we live? It is hard to grasp this voluntary downtime, virus, disease, and death. It is difficult to lose our loved ones… 
  • PERCEPTION! I throw myself out of the small window of my rooftop studio. The only place where I can be outside and be safe is the roof of the building! I live in one of the most crowded and noisy areas in Istanbul. When I go up to the roof, the silence of the street and the neighborhood alienates me where I am. This is like a desolate town in Western Europe… strange!
  • I'm exploring on the roof. Demolition crews in the adjacent building stopped work due to the virus. I examine the roof of the building and the materials around it. Bricks, boards, antennas, cables, broken chimneys, tiles, insulation materials are everywhere… Why then I find tile pieces with French inscriptions. This increases my curiosity even more. I find my field of study in the following weeks. ROOF (DAM -in Turkish-) It comes to my mind that during the Neolithic period, the doors of the houses were on the roof and people were socializing on the roofs too... 
  • I fnd the building materials on the roof, examine them, classify them, clean them, and start photographing them. Here are my first discoveries. Roof tiles from Marseille and Thessaloniki in the second half of the 19th century. Probably they picked up from the old building here. I also find building elements at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century and examine and photograph them with the care of an archaeologist. What have these Marseille and Thessaloniki roof tiles witnessed in the past? Perhaps one of the construction masters who made these tiles was caught in the Cholera epidemic in the 1800s or died in the Spanish Flu in the 1920s. 
  • In front of me, there are objects that have lived 2 world wars and dozens of pandemics. On the screen next to me, the minister of health explains the daily Covid-19 patient number and death numbers. Then I throw myself from my window to the roof, take a deep breath.
  • Osman Bozkurt,
  • 4 May 2020, Istanbul 

© Copyright 2022 Osman Bozkurt. All Rights Reserved.

Made with ‌

Easiest Website Builder