Tunc Topcuoglu on the importance of roots, and being an outsider. "No longer trapped in a specific identity, you are forced to reconstruct yourself."
For Mapping for Tourists, you will track down the best Kebab in Noord. Why?
In my work I always try to combine high and low culture. In Turkey this is quite important. We miss the cultural base to relate to art. Everything is either reduced to extremely commercial pop culture, or elitist artistic avant-gard. They are unable to communicate with each other. The gap between high culture and low culture is immense. That’s why I have chosen kebab: everybody can relate to it, and has say something to say about it. I am using it as an image that allows me to communicate and easily get in touch with all different kinds of people. At the end of the day, the project is about human beings, not about a type of food.
What aspect of Noord are you trying to show?
I am trying to show how much immigrants feel insecure and lost in Noord. They are pushed in a corner, and cannot help but feel like outsiders. Even though they might be the third or even fourth generation living in Noord. They become foreigners both in Amsterdam and Istanbul. They are in between personae, and don't know where they belong.
What about you then? Do you consider yourself Turkish?
This is my eighth year here in Amsterdam. I love it. I try to go back to Istanbul as much as possible though. I still consider myself 100% Turkish. Even if I do try to fit into this 'world citizen' format, I believe it's very important to hold onto your roots, to have clear in your mind what culture you're from - both the good and bad aspects of it. I know that even if I have a Dutch passport, know the language, and live here, I will never be completely Dutch.
What does Amsterdam mean to you?
This city has made me believe in myself. It is crazy. You grow up in your town, with your friends and your family and your social boundaries, and then when you move, all of a sudden nobody calls you, nobody is interested in you, and you have the chance to do your own things. You have to start deciding what is wrong and what is right by yourself. No longer trapped in a specific identity, you are forced to reconstruct yourself.