One of the basic Situationist practices is the dérive. In French, the word dérive means drifting or, in this context of Situationism, derivation.
In defining the theory of the dérive, Guy Debord makes the following introduction:
"Dérive is a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.
Dérives involve playful-constructive behaviour and awareness of psycho-geographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from the point of view of a dérive cities have psycho-geographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortices that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.
In December 2013, when Doxa magazine offered me the chance to take part in the dérive project, the aftermath of the Gezi protests of June 2013 had started to settle. The government had surpressed the protestors, which deeply demoralized people like me. Overwhelmed by having lived right in the middle of the events, we felt as if we had had a magical dream but now had to wake up. In this state of mind, I had decided to lead a more anonymous life. At this moment, I found the idea and experience of the dérive very comforting.
10 Published in Les Leures Nues, no. 9, December 1956 and Internationale Situationist,
no. 2, December 1958.
I used to wander around many cities of the world like a faneur, but living in the ciy I knew Istanbul better than that, so I decided to create a derive, a drifting from myself in Istanbul so as to experience it. Istanbul is a metropolis; better, is a megalopolis. Most of us lead our lives only in a certain part of this presumptuous city. We set the limits of our zones based on our daily needs, sometimes willingly and sometimes due to certain obligations.
Well, then how was I going to realise my dérive?
What should the method be for picking the place? Was I going to open a city map and drop some dividers with my eyes shut and just go wherever they picked out? Well, I tried that but it didn't work. They either dropped onto the sea or a district I knew quite well. Then I came up with another idea. I was going to take a city bus and continue until the last stop and start looking from there... but I thought both these methods were too cliched. Chance was involved, an approach the concept of derive didn’t deserve. Besides, neither was exciting nor pleasurable enough.
Overshadowed by the Skyscraper, 2014
One morning, I took my camera and arrived at the front entrance of the tower. Instead of walking in, I walked around it. I was at this place, which I had once seen from above. Probably, now I was an ant for those who were watching from the top. I took the first street I saw and stepped into a world unknown. My dérive had started "overshadowed by the skyscraper."
Doxa had set aside twenty pages for this project I made for its 124 volume. At this point I must note that each Doxa page is an exhibition space. The works included are shaped according to the page/space. In fact, this is not very different from placing an artwork in three dimensional physical space. In this volume of Doxa, there is a series of photos titled Street Sculptures, the object interventions I made in the district throughout the derive, places I ran away from, zones in which I chased the skyscraper and its shadow and an article on my derive experience. In addition, there is the web address for my video called Trimming, which features the process of the demolition of a building I watched for quite a long while.
Doxa volume twelve was published in September 2014. For me this meant that my exhibition "Dérive", including my work Overshadowed by the Skyscraper was now open. The magazine/exhibition also included a work by Murüvvet, who had had her own derive experience. In this connection, we held a session at Robinson Crusoe bookstore, aiming both at discussing our dérive experiences and promoting Doxa volume twelve. This was like an opening for the exhibition/magazine. As happens rarely, that day I attended the opening. The audience comprised new faces, including writers, sociologists, philosophers and poets. Someone from the audience demanded to watch my video right there and then. I remember answering him: "It is necessary to approach the content of my pages in Doxa with a holistic perspective.
The pages and the video should be seen, perceived and visited as inseparable parts of a whole. Today, I can only offer you a volume of the magazine. You can visit this exhibition presented to you, at home, in a private corner such as your couch, on your own, sitting close to your computer. Perhaps afterwards you can also go "under the shadow of the skyscraper" and let your body flow into your own dérive. With the state of mind of our times, especially in these post-Gezi days, I recommend this to everyone, hoping that it will be a unique experience for all."
Let your life deviate for once.