When you finally decide to leave the place where you’ve lived as a migrant worker – in some cases for decades – and return to the country of your birth, what exactly do you leave with and what do you leave behind?
As you might expect, in many cases the migrants who journey home for the final time do so with a changed sense of identity and perspective on the world, a new language, new friends and family members, pets, habits, memories and personal effects.
But according to an exhibition that has opened at Salt Galata in Istanbul, the migrants also return with something that’s rather more unexpected – a transformed sense of domesticity and space. Migrating Spaces: Architecture and Identity in the Context of Turkish Migration grew out of a three-year research project, organised by the artist and academic Stefanie Bürkle and her students and colleagues at the Institute of Architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, which analysed and catalogued 132 homes built or renovated by so-called “Deutschlander” migrants returning to Turkey from Germany.
Originally exhibited in March at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin the project also formed the basis for an international conference as well as a book of the same name which has been published by the Berlin-based publisher Vice Versa Verlag.
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