An Innocent CityModest Musings on Everyday Istanbul

Photograph by Hasan Deniz

An Innocent City focuses on the stories and illustrations of the everyday objects of Istanbul. The objects presented in the exhibition were inspired by objects on display in the cases of the Museum of Innocence in Çukurcuma.

The Museum of Innocence houses a collection of everyday objects that were collected over two decades by the Nobel-prize winning author Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk used the objects as inspiration for the creation of the characters, scenes, and stories of his novel The Museum of Innocence (2008). An Innocent City at the RCAC responds to the Museum of Innocence by moving away from the intimate space of the museum back into the public life of the city today.

Graduate students from Koç University chose 12 objects from the Museum of Innocence and searched the streets of Istanbul to find the lives of these objects. Following the lives of everyday things, they encountered alternative perspectives on the cultural heritage of the city of Istanbul. A tea glass, a coffee cup, a hairpin…Each object brings the viewers on unique paths through the city and presents unique perspectives on the life in the city. Recorded in story and illustrated through photography, cartography, and graphic design, the lives of these objects are accompanied by informal, temporary loans from members of the local community. The result is a collection of stories of the city of Istanbul as it is today, as seen through the lives of our everyday objects.

As a contribution to An Innocent City, photographer Hasan Deniz has created new work capturing the 12 objects in the historic and urban context of the city. Additionally, American artist Mark Dion has written a modest postcard to the Museum of Innocence on behalf of The Jenks Society for Lost Museums that deepens the parafictional bond between the novel and museum. The project is a platform for considering the different meanings of everyday objects, aiming to encourage future responses from others wishing to collect and share their own stories.

A book published by Yapı Kredi Publications —containing essays of Ian Alden Russell, Oscar Ho, Patrick Cooke as well as the postcard from Mark Dion and the stories of 12 objects—accompanies the exhibition.

Exhibition and book design: Ayşe Karamustafa

An Innocent City, Modest Musings in Everyday Istanbul

  • Editor(s): Ian Alden Russell