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Since when did student travel become an opportunity for civil disobedience?

When my friend Sinan brought his art to Turkey, his homeland.

Sinan came to Minneapolis for grad school and is currently a computer science Phd at the U of M, specializing in technology applications for the collaborative arts. Which means he uses high tech gizmos to bring art into communities. He prefers video projectors because they have the power to display videos, images, and animations on practically any urban structure.

Born in Bergama, Turkey, Sinan grew up near the  west coast of the Aegean Sea. But during his adolescent years he left Bergama for Istanbul. “[I] fell in love with that city,” he said. “When I think of home, I often think of Istanbul.”

Sinan recently returned to Istanbul with a group of fellow artists to participate in the Istanbul Pride march. “Pride is a big deal in Istanbul,” he said. “Many people from all around turkey come to the political events, panels, the march, etc.” Sinan was there to support his gay community, alongside anti-fascists, anti-militarists, people against violence, feminists, leftists, Marxists, and worker unions. He did his part with video projectors. “Projections were another way of getting our message across,” he said.

Every year, the march ends at Galata tower, a monument built by the Genovese in the 14th century. That was Sinan’s target. “We projected some artistic content related to queer issues on the tower,” he said. Since we didn’t have permission (there is no way, they would give permission) it caused some tension.” The police were called, but they didn’t know where to find the ghost vandals. Sinan was hidden in a building across the street, projecting images out a window.

This political intervention wasn’t school sponsored—Sinan didn’t have the academic policy monkey on his back. He took it upon himself to bring his studies to the streets. If you’re interested in his direction, but want to keep things legal, there are plenty of study abroad programs centered on social justice.

Sinan and his team were eventually caught, but there were no arrests. “At the end things magically got resolved” he said “An officer even secretly told us that he thought the projections were cool.”


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