In Istanbul, Knitting a City Together

women knitting greenies istanbul sidewalk photo
Passers-by stop to help knit "greenies" to decorate the streetlamps of Nişantaşı. Photo: Yutta Saftien

Come next May, if you were to look out across the mighty waterway running through the middle of Istanbul, you might see shoots of green growth rising up from the endless urban sprawl and crossing the Bosphorus Bridge that connects the city's European and Asian sides. This is no post-apocalyptic scenario of nature run amok in a ruined world, but, much to the contrary, one artist's vision of peaceful connection.
German artist Yutta Saftien has been installing knitted or crocheted plants, vines, and leaves--which she has dubbed "greenies"--in public places for half a dozen years, often starting a "plant" and leaving it, along with some wool and a set of crochet hooks, for passers-by to add onto. The Bosphorus project is by far her most ambitious, and though she has not yet actually received permission to hang anything from the bridge, she has already recruited thousands of volunteers from 31 countries to help knit together the two kilometers of yarn needed to cross the span. Last year, Saftien decorated 58 streetlamps in the Nişantaşı district of Istanbul as a preview of the Bosphorus project.

participants greeny yarn vines photo
Contributions to the Bosporus-Greeny project. Photo: Yutta Saftien

Though the greenies are not, well, "green" in and of themselves (unless the participants use organic yarn), some supporters, such as the first lady of Turkish northern Cyprus, who has helped organize workshops in local schools, believe they will help raise awareness about climate change.

Saftien, who previously worked in Turkey as a fashion designer, used recycled materials in an earlier exhibition, The Garbage T-Shirt Project. But her real hopes for these facsimiles of nature are that they will encourage cooperation and communication between people. "The main idea is that in these not very peaceful times, people can work together on an artwork without serving themselves, their individual cultures, nationalities, or religions," Saftien says. To participate in the project, send her an email and get knitting. Via: "Bridging divides a stitch at a time," Hürriyet Daily News
Other environmental art projects:
Chicago's Columbia College Hosts Challenging Environmental Art Show
The Art World Evolves with Natural Selection Installation in San Francisco
Land Art at Risk
Nature Inspires Art in San Diego
The Happy Happy Plastic Stadium - Biggest Plastic Art Installation Ever?
Second Growth: William Stranger's Art Installation "Invokes the Life Cycle of a Tree"
Eco-Graffiti and Grassity Moss Art Grace London, New York
Feedback Exhibit Merges Ecological Tech and Art
But Is It Art?
Rice Paddies As Art
ScrapEden: Recycled Public Art

Tags: Artists | Arts | Turkey | Urban Life

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