‘Life, glass in hand Beyoğlu…’ – Book Art News

Burcu Pelvanoğlu, Lecturer at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Department of Art History, in her book “As a Production Space: If Beyoğlu Falls”; It tells the story of the change in Beyoğlu from the point of view of artists, writers and journalists.


Taksim and Beyoğlu are not just streets, avenues or parks; At the same time, reading Burcu Pelvanoğlu’s book “As a Production Space: If Beyoğlu Falls” is very meaningful and necessary in these days when we are passionately talking about the spaces that give meaning to our lives by determining our way of life, producing , love and solidarity.
Like all metropolises, Istanbul is a constantly changing and transforming city. Both its center and its periphery have been constantly developing according to their own dynamics for centuries. However, the changes in Beyoğlu in recent years and the transformations in this area, which has cultural, economic and political symbolic values, are also important in that they directly affect our lives.

Just as Paris’s Montparnasse neighborhood became a production base for artists, Beyoğlu became a place where artists, writers and journalists congregated, ate, drank and produced in the 1930s and 40s. In the first part of the book, we read the history of the district, see how the Tanzimat of September 6-7 came about, and witness how social life was enriched by the cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels that opened in Beyoğlu.
In the second part the author describes the transformation of Beyoğlu from 6.-7. September to the present in the context of historical events. Tepebaşı Garden, Taksim Municipality Casino, Gardenbar, Maksim, Tokatlıyan Hotel, Pera Palas Hotel, Park Hotel and Garden of Eden, Narmanlı Han, Lebon, Marquise, Nisuaz Patisserie, Turquoise Bar, Petrograd, Degusasyon, Asmalımescit74, Bizim Lokanta, Baylan Patisserie, Lambo’s Tavern, Republic Tavern, Egypt Apartment, Atlas Passage, Kulis Bar, Maya Art Gallery, Art Friends Association, Philharmonic Association are the places where the intellectuals of that time met almost every night, thought, discussed and thus produced.. Because artistic production is collective, requiring solidarity and sharing, artists know this and care. No one wants to hold large workshops alone. Poems are written on napkins while chatting at the bar.
Of course, this book does not make nostalgia for “Oh where is old Beyoğlu”. It underlines the contribution of preserving cultural roots and traces of the past to the formation of collective memory. At the point we have reached today, he deals with the reflections on the reduced opportunities for assembly and artistic production in Beyoğlu and the differentiation of the masses circulating in the district in terms of production, economy, art and culture. The book examines the fragility of Beyoğlu’s demographic structure, which inevitably feeds on the creation of an enemy, but has played its part in the development of an eclectic nationalist thought that takes a different form, the debates on locality and universality, and the calculations of the profitability of capital – and profit centers and the fragility of their demographic structure, which is reshaped with every wave of immigration, emphasizes the anti-founder, without falling into nostalgic traps.
The closure of bars, taverns and cafes in Beyoğlu for political and economic reasons will of course lead to cultural erosion in the near future. The removal of outdoor tables and chairs, the closure of movie theaters, the increase in the number of places like kebab shops, dessert shops, hookah shops, and many other minor factors will affect the production of artists, writers, journalists, and ultimately the entire society in which Country.
But our hope remains, our strength is there; We look for ways to live, produce and love with dignity. We say that a tavern in Beyoğlu is not just a tavern, a park is not just a park, a tree is not just a tree. As the writer Mücap Ofluoğlu said: “Living Beyoğlu, breathing Beyoğlu is possible with a glass in your hand. To live, to drink a glass of Beyoğlu…” we know.


Burcu Pelvanoğlu
Flood Publications, 2022
304 pages.

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