Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure

Nostalgia from Sea Baths to Beaches

April 5 - August 26, 2018

The First World War played a critical role in shaping the transformation of the Ottoman people’s relationship with the sea. Swimming in the sea, regarded as a matter of privacy, was considered wrong and even illegal for a long period. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the inhabitants of a waterside city like Istanbul had to make do with “sea baths” that were enclosed with wooden panels, despite the effect of Westernization. As secularism was embraced within the founding of the Republic, individuality would become socially visible and free, leading to a more intimate relationship with the sea.

The change from sea baths to beaches was nothing less than a revolution. The White Russians escaping the Revolution in Russia caused numerous transformations in Istanbul, arguably the most important being beach habits that brought the people to the sea. The inhabitants of the city were quick to get used to beachgoing and the activity created its own forms of fun, fashion, and culture in time. Once the sea became part of urban life, Istanbul developed a unique sense of freedom as well. The golden era of beach culture lasted until the 1960s, after which the rapid sociological change in Istanbul took its toll.

Curated by Zafer Toprak, the Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure exhibition brought together photographs, magazines, comics, objects, and books from various private and institutional collections, and told a nostalgic story while also addressing the change and socialization of the norms of how Istanbulites used their free time. Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure was a documentary testament of the radical transformations in the Republic’s lifestyle.

#SeasideLeisure

Exhibition Catalogue

Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure

Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure

Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure: Nostalgia from Sea Baths to Beaches analyzed Istanbulites’ relation with the sea and swimming from a cultural and sociological perspective. It scrutinizes the transformations of this relation, which started with the sea baths in the second half of the 19th century and continued till the mid-20th century.

Video

On the Beach

Pera Film’s On the Beach journeys through the layered meanings of the beach and its representation on celluloid film.


Seaside Leisure

Seaside Leisure

Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure: Nostalgia from Sea Baths to Beaches exhibition brought together photographs, magazines, comics, objects, and books from various private and institutional collections, and told a nostalgic story while also addressing the change and socialization of the norms of how Istanbulites used their free time. Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure was a documentary testament of the radical transformations in the Republic’s lifestyle. 

Sea Baths

Sea Baths

It is understood from Evliya Çelebi’s well-known Book of Travels that the history of sea baths goes as far back as the 17th century; their acceptance and popularization take place in mid-19th century as a result of Westernization, among other things.

Memory Building Memories / Memory Room / Memento Mori

Memory Building Memories / Memory Room / Memento Mori

Each memory tells an intimate story; each collection presents us with the reality of containing an intimate story as well. The collection is akin to a whole in which many memories and stories of the artist, the viewer, and the collector are brought together. At the heart of a collection is memory, nurtured from the past and projecting into the future.