Cihangir has become a hip and vibrant neighborhood with quite a mix of expats, students, artists and writers in the past decade. It did have its share of the facelift operations raging in the city, which gave way to alfresco dining scene, haute-couture designer stores and naturally rocketing rent prices over the years! On one hand, the charm of colorful art-nouveau buildings, nearby antique shopping district Çukurcuma, cats stretching in the sun, the smell of freshly baked pastries, the unabashed schmoozing scene, and the relatively liberal atmosphere draw the crowds into the neighborhood either for dining and wining or for residing. On the other hand, the less advantageous communities who used to live here are expelled out to the suburbs.
Despite the spick and span feeling, a scrap of political protest in the form of street art sneaks in. When I first saw and photographed the second graffiti, I somehow could not put into a context in a country, where there is hardly any racial tension (yet plenty of ethnic and religious tension!) Months later, it sank to me that once the neighborhood was a home to marginal communities, including transvestites and illegal refugees from African countries and repeated police raids finally “cleared off” the neighborhood. I feel this graffiti must now be paying a tribute to the black communities who once found a shelter here. Any black is good!