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1967, Milford. Lives in Amsterdam.

 ‘Temporary Person Passing Through will resurrect and introduce to İstanbul the defunct pictorial alphabet of ‘Hobo Signs’ used by Hobos, who were rootless migrant workers in the USA from the late 19th to the mid 20th century. Hobos traveled across the country by hopping freight trains, looking for work wherever it was to be found. The symbols were used to give fellow hobos directions, find work, and stay clear of trouble. Generally they were written with chalk, or coal, on sidewalks, buildings, railcars, and road signs. After the Second World War, Hobo Culture more or less died off in the USA, and these days instead of using Hobo Signs, the remaining Hobos communicate with mobile phones and e-mail.’ (O. Berchem)
Using spray paint, chalk, stencils and stickers Berchem marked signs on buildings, walls and pavements in Galata, Beyoğlu. He also placed signs and small neons in shop windows and on security boxes. The meanings of the signs are known only to the initiated; their very existence points to this mysterious group. Each week a glossary of the signs will be circulated in the Biennial newspaper. The signs resurface inside many of the Biennial venues through a series of photographs.
A neon text piece Temporary Person Passing Through (in Turkish on the front of Platform and in English on the façade of the Garanti building) draws our attention to these other inhabitants of the city, those with whom we share the same streets, yet whose daily reality we rarely think about unless confronted with it directly.

Esra Sarıgedik Öktem


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