Beyond Walls Project: Saype in Istanbul

Beyond Walls Project: Saype in Istanbul

Beyond Walls launched in June 2019, aiming to symbolically create the biggest human chain on the planet by the French-Swiss artist Saype. Gigantic paintings on grass feature hands to hands that interlace, shake on another, and unite in a common effort that goes beyond the walls that separate human beings and enclose them in mental or geographical spaces.
It’s a message of optimism, kindness, and togetherness that the artist wants to send to the world.

The “Beyond Walls” aims at creating the largest symbolic human chain around the world promoting values such as togetherness, kindness and openness to the world. Photo: Valentin Flauraud for Saype.

An ephemeral work that vanishes over time following the flows of nature. It helps us to see the world as a living being worthy of respect and as a part of ourselves: a New Humanity barriers and look to a future capable of spreading hope rather than fear. Saype’s performance has already crossed several borders and continues to travel carrying this universal message from country to country along an immense human chain that embraces the planet. The eighth destination was the city of Istanbul.

Beyond Walls Project Volunteer Görkem Kızılkayak answered SEVENTYFOUR‘s questions about the origins of the collaboration that brought the iconic public art series to three key locations in Istanbul.

For the latest large scale outdoor installation in Istanbul, Besiktas Municipality has collaborated with the renowned French-Swiss artist, Saype. What sparked this collaboration?

When I noticed Saype’s post of an amazing Bosphorus view on Instagram last year, I sent him a DM to offer support in case he is interested in a project in Istanbul. We were drinking tea with him just 2 hours after this first contact. Both parties’ enthusiasm about a potential project sparked this collaboration and we’ve quickly organized ourselves to pick the perfect spots, timing, and initiated the planning.

This is the eighth installment of Saype’s Beyond Walls series; why Istanbul was the perfect choice in the light of everything that is happening today?

The only location for Saype’s Beyond Walls series not in Europe was Africa and he was keen to extend the blueprint towards Asia for the sake of giving the message of Beyond Walls across geographical, political, and social borders. And Istanbul is significantly in line with what Beyond Walls speaks for.

One of the key locations for the installation was Boğaziçi University on the European Side of the city. Photo: Valentin Flauraud for Saype

How did you decide on the three locations for the installation? Was there a specific reason behind it?

In the beginning, Saype wanted to pick two locations, one of each being on the European and Asian side of Istanbul. With my friend and partner in this project Roxane, we created a shortlist. Boğaziçi University and Beykoz were on that list. The floating platform was the idea of Kültür A.Ş.’s General Manager Serdal Taşkın, who believed in this project from the beginning on and provided us the best spot which literally links the two continents.

The Municipality and Kültür A.Ş. helped Saype to find the best spots that links the two continents in the city. Photo: Valentin Flauraud for Saype

After the press conference, the aerial photos of the work have spread online much like a wind of hope and unity. What is the public role of installations such as Saype’s Beyond Walls?

Yes, the interest in Saype’s work online was beyond our expectations, more than 40 countries about 300 press publications, and 850 million people. Even on the first day, the aerial photos’ interaction was three times the Paris installation. Everyone who took part in this project is very happy to convey Saype’s message. We are at a point in history where the world is polarizing, and where a part of the people are more and more turning in on themselves. However, Saype believes that it is only together when we can respond to the biggest challenges of our times, where the artist wants to send a message of kindness and optimism by symbolically creating the largest human chain ever made.

Where will the installation be exhibited after?

Saype desires to have the largest impact on people without impacting nature, so the work disappears and dissolves due to weather conditions. The grass which covered the floating installation is distributed to various parks right after the installation and photo shoots. An exhibition that displayed photos from all three frescoes and other Beyond Walls locations took place in Taksim Sanat and currently part of the exhibition can be seen on the walls of the French Institute on Istiklal Street.