The project “Never let me Gò, Tunaight”, in collaboration with Ilaria Genovesio, intends to draw a parallel between the cities of Istanbul and Venice, through the identification of one or more extinct and alien marine species that the Sea of Marmara and the marine area of the northern Adriatic Sea and the Venetian Lagoon share. Translating the research and analysis of these elements into an artistic and visual language allowed us to ignite debates between Istanbul and Venice around urgent and shared issues such as pollution, globalisation, climate change, overfishing, food, tourism and biodiversity. The project took shape with a series of preliminary researches conducted in Venice, aimed at identifying the marine species in question in collaboration with museums, researchers, fishermen and local fish traders. In the second half of June, for a couple of weeks, the project moved to Istanbul with the support of the artist run space PASAJ, which accompanied us in the development of the research and in particular in building relationships with local organisations, initiatives and personalities that were fundamental to enrich the project presented in July in the art centre Barin Han.
During our time in PASAJ, we created mobile and flying sculptures depicting a goby (gò in Venetian), a tuna and various sea walnuts – an invasive ctenophore that thrives in warm waters and damages local marine fauna. Two iconic fishes, the Gò for Venice and the Tuna for Istanbul, which are present in both waters and share a glorious past and a rather critical and precarious present. In contrast, the sea walnuts are the image of a contaminated present, at odds with the fragile balance of the seas, and encroaching on fragile ecosystems such as the Venice Lagoon and the Bosphorus in a harmful manner.
Walking together with the two fishes towards the top of the island of Büyükada allowed us to observe from above what Istanbul is today, its waters and its inhabitants. At the same time, we established a bond between these two species and consequently between the two cities. A bond that will continue and develop over the next few years thanks to Ilaria Genovesio’s collaboration on the project and the support of PASAJ and Artport Making Waves.