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Elio Montanari, Italian architect and photographer

Elio Montanari, Italian architect and photographer

Interview with Elio Montanari by Tuğba Kibar/ Experience of Living Together in Istanbul / October 2010

Elio Montanari is an Italian architect and a photographer with a focus on buildings and physical structures and therefore the city itself in general. Living in Istanbul since 2002, Elio was married here for the first time of his life and plans to stay in Istanbul from now on.

When one is posed the question related to the coexistence of various religious groups, family ties and neighbourhood relations are almost the only subject matter that is discussed. During my conversation with Elio, I came to realize that physicality of space in and of itself can be the foundation of coexistence.

There is no shock for me because I don’t have any problems of identity in the sense that I was always used to, to meet diversity. I mean the problem of identity is being solved with meeting different people. So, I believe in what we may say, cannibalism. Intellectual and spiritual cannibalism which means that I see you, you are different from me. So I cannot have any shocks about Istanbul and the people in Istanbul. But I find myself. Yes, I always find myself through diversity, through meeting diversity.

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Walk along the Haliç coastline, when you start to notice half collapsed buildings you will know that you are in Balat. You enter the district through a historical door of the citadel which is not to imposing but indicates that you are about to enter a special place. Narrow slopes consist of old sequential houses which face each other. Houses are generally narrow faced with three or four stories. In front of the discolored houses on the stairway women sit around  and chat. You may also see their husbands smoking outside in front of the door. Children are keeping the streets busy with their jumping, shouting and playing around.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

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