The covid-19 pandemic has an enormous impact on cities worldwide. Especially within areas such as employment, health care, social services and the economy: both now as in the near future. In the sixth program of the Infected Cities series, we will look at how Istanbul is currently dealing with this pandemic. During this LIVECAST we will have conversations with different experts about the current and future impact of this crisis in Istanbul. Together with DutchCulture, we will search for different ‘city makers’ such as artists, creatives, volunteers. The speakers will give us an insight into their daily works and explain how they commit to making a positive impact during this pandemic.

Istanbul slowing down

Istanbul, a high pace city of 16 million, is the driving force of the Turkish economy. The city became the epicentre of the corona pandemic in Turkey as of mid. March 2020 when it was reported for the first time. Strict measures were imposed until June, which helped to reduce the numbers of cases (i.e. lock down for senior citizens and the youth, weekend curfews and sealing off of major cities). While Turkey is opening up again since the beginning of June, the number of corona cases has started to increase. How has corona affected Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey? Has the pandemic deepened the existing contrasts and inequalities? What types of precautions are important during these first weeks of Istanbul’s reopening and in the future?

Difficulties and resilience within the arts

With an agenda filled with concerts, festivals, biennials, exhibitions among many others, Istanbul is one of the most exciting centres for art and culture in the world. The pandemic has paused the buzzing cultural life of the city for a short time, however cultural professionals and artists were very quick to adapt and start new initiatives. In this episode on Istanbul we will talk to interesting guests from different disciplines within the arts. What are the major obstacles that the creative sector is dealing with? What are the various creative solutions they found to continue their work, and make positive social impact? And, to what extent can art and culture contribute to transitioning into (post-) corona Istanbul?

Kübra Uzun (DJ Q-BRA) is an Istanbul-based singer, songwriter and DJ. Q-BRA is a queer activist, working both in Turkey and also on international basis on various platforms.

Yaşar Adnan Adanalı is an Istanbul based urbanist, researcher and lecturer. He has a BA in social and political sciences from Sabanci University and a master’s degree on development and planning: social development practice from Development Planning Unit, University College London (UCL). His PhD research in Habitat Unit (TU Berlin) is on relations of spatial production and democratisation processes in Istanbul. Until June 2012, Yasar had worked as a development specialist for Stuttgart University on refugee camp improvement projects of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). At the moment, he teaches participatory planning courses at TU Darmstadt as guest professor. He is a voluntary member of One Hope Association (Istanbul). Yasar has co-initiated the urban research network Beyond Istanbul ( He coordinates several urban blogs and websites, including his personal blogs Reclaim Istanbul ( and Happy City (

Sinem Dişli was born in 1982 in Urfa, Turkey. She earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in sculpture at the Dokuz Eylul University and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography at the Marmara University with the dissertation thesis titled: “The Use of Photography in the Art Movements of the 20th Century and Photography’s Relationship with the Concept of Avant-Garde”. Between 2005 and 2008, she worked for photography department at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, and she co-curated exhibitions, such as Magnum Photographers, André Kertész, Lars Tunbjörk, and Othmar Pferschy. In 2008, she was awarded a scholarship to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York with her project “Resistance” which combines photography and visual arts elements. She also participated in the fine art education programs at the International Center of Photography, and Cooper Union. In addition to four solo exhibitions titled İntiba, Sürgün, Cereyan and Rutubet, she has also participated in numerous group exhibitions throughout Europe and the US. Dişli joined the Cosmos section of the 2016 and 2017 Arles Photography Festival with her books Intiba and Rutubet. Dişli was awarded by the Triangle Arts Residency program and ISCP for 2015. Since 2008, she splits her time between Istanbul and New York, and she is a co-founder of the independent artist-run space Ayzart in New York, TOZ Artist-Run Space and HER HÂL Kolektif in Istanbul.

Bekir Dindar was born in Istanbul and graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Photography Department in 2018. Since then he has been studying for a Master’s Degree in the same university. The award-wining artist has participated to various photography festivals in Turkey and abroad. He published several photobooks. His work was shown in group and solo exhibitions. Bekir Dindar who is the founder of Demo Lab Photograph Collective continues to develop projects and exhibitions with the collective.

Born in Istanbul, Ekim Tan relocated to the Netherlands after having worked and studied in the United States, Syria and Egypt. Being trained as an architect, her growing interest and passion in cities and games led to a doctoral degree at the Delft University of Technology, titled “Negotiation and Design for the Self-organizing City: Gaming as a Method for Urban Design”. In 2008, she founded Play the City, an Amsterdam and Istanbul based city consultancy firm that helps governments and market parties effectively collaborate with stakeholders.

Pınar Akkurt is an Istanbul based artist and designer focused on making and transforming. She uses easy-to-reach everyday objects and soon-to-be-waste materials, experimenting with function, perception and color. She is trying to form fresh visual languages and design sustainable systems in different scales through upcycling. An important part of her work practice is doing and trying. She is also the founder of Upcycling Library, a platform for research and production of upcycling samples. She continues to share her experience by giving workshops in various universities.

Hakan Silahsızoğlu trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England and played in BBC Radio 4 plays, appeared in various TV commercials, international television and film projects in London and Istanbul. As a cultural operator; he’s been a member of The Fence theatre network and co-coordinator of Turkish committee in Eurodram, Europe’s largest drama translation network. Hakan’s been a global fellow at International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He has been a member of the selection committee of International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) since 2018. He’s given talks and classes about Turkey’s theatre at various international events. He is the Children’s Theatre Programmer at London’s Watermans Arts Centre. Hakan is the founder and director of Atta Festival, Turkey’s only international arts festival for babies and children.

Bige Örer is currently the director of the Istanbul Biennial and contemporary art projects at İKSV. There she directs the artistic vision and programme for the Istanbul Biennial as well as a wide variety of cross disciplinary projects, including the Pavilion of Turkey at la Biennale di Venezia; learning, residency and public programmes which are developed together with a multitude of international and local collaborators. She is the curator of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 59th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia and working with Füsun Onur. She has a background in political science and public administration as well as sociology.

Toon Beemsterboer started his career in journalism at, the morning edition of NRC Handelsblad that was launched in 2006. Worked at the foreign desk, and wrote about electronic music and youth culture. In 2010 moved to NRC Handelsblad and started working as the Africa editor in Amsterdam. In the following years travelled to Nigeria, Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenia, South Africa and Djibouti. Three years later began as the Middle East editor of NRC Handelsblad, again based in Amsterdam but travelling to the regio when necessary. In 2017 moved to Istanbul, where he has been working as a correspondent since.