Huzun of Istanbul
in collaboration with maviblau

Istanbul can be felt in one word: hüzün. Best described in the books of well-known author Orhan Pamuk, hüzün is a collective feeling, a philosophy, a state of mind – experienced and shared through the inhabitants of Istanbul. It originates in the pain and loss generated by the fall of the great Ottoman empire, but also describes a general longing for all that once was. Even though it might seem like a negative feeling, it is celebrated by the Istanbulites – they romanticize it.

The project’s goal is making the intangible tangible. Creating a new encounter with the memories of the city. Exploring the correlation between this collective feeling and historial/social/ecological factors. Displaying the impact of political/social changes on the city‘s atmosphere and relating the very specific feeling of hüzün to similar phenomena e.g. in France (tristesse), Portugal (saudade) and Germany(weltschmerz). Hüzün, which denotes a melancholy that is communal rather than private.

What stimulates such a unifying feeling?

How does this create a cultural nationalism?

Using Pamuk‘s books as a starting point, a legend is created to start the mapping on-site. The results/findings are uploaded to instagram, categorized with a specific hashtag and displayed in a virtual map that is encouraging others to contribute and share their own ideas of hüzün. This map is seen as an ongoing project. The results are published in a research book.