Thoughts of Construction



Thoughts of a Construction Worker

Thoughts of a Construction Worker is initially produced for ‘Under Construction’ in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2006 and is produced during a 1-month residency with the gallery. The project consists of a video installation in the gallery space and a website which can be viewed online from this site.

The ‘Under Construction’ gallery is a mobile space made up of construction containers (similar to shipping containers). It travels around Istanbul changing location for each exhibition. The nature of the gallery space coalesces two strains of KIT’s practice. The first being the production of projects made for construction / shipping containers, the second being works which focus on development companies and their socio-geographic strategies. This project became a direct continuation of two projects in particular - KIT Homes and Greylands as it propagates KIT’s interest in opening up a public space for people to voice their opinions about the urban context they inhabit.

After months of meetings, negotiations and planning between city councils, engineers, architects and developers, it is finally up to the workers to actually realize the projects that have been discussed. Construction workers in Istanbul are often people who have left their families in search of a job in the city. They travel in hope of earning enough money to support themselves and to send money back home to loved ones. For a myriad of reasons, by becoming a construction worker, many have become displaced. The building site has become their backyard and their co-workers, their temporary families. When one site is finished they travel to the next site, essentially becoming builders of homes away from home.

This project is directed around the thoughts of workers who are employed throughout different construction sites in the city of Istanbul. Members of KIT travel through over 20 districts in the city of Istanbul, interviewing workers and documenting their working and living conditions via a digital video and stills camera. An item (newspaper, brush, hat, towel etc) is also collected from each site visited. During each interview, the three following questions are asked:

1. “ Which building do you remember best from your homeland-town-city and why?”
2. “If you had the choice, what would you build on the construction site you are currently working on and what are your thoughts about what is currently being constructed?”
3. “In the future, what type of building and in which location would you most desire to live in and why?”

10 of the interviews are chosen, placed on a DVD and played on a small television in the ‘Under Construction’ gallery. The container itself is simply turned back into what it was originally used for - a living space for the workers. Beds, tables and newspaper cuttings furnish the interior. On one of the tables sits a television, which plays the video of the workers talking about their memories, ideas and aspirations for the future.

Maybe the most telling dynamic of a construction worker’s relation to location and architecture is the fact that there are few or no conduits for their ideas, hopes, desires or fears to be expressed during the planning, building and selling of space within the city. In many ways, this lack of access to expression about the built environment around oneself, mirrors the disempowerment within contemporary urban life which most of us experience.

Thoughts of a Construction Worker exhibits at the following sites –

2006 Under Construction Gallery (Istanbul, Turkey)