The Street Art Scene in Istanbul is constantly growing – for the most part thanks to the annual Street Art Festival Istanbul. Founded in 2007 by the artist Pertev Emre Taştaban it attracts street artists from all over the world who stay in the city for a couple of weeks in order to realise their artwork. İn the last two years the festival’s focus was on Yeldeğirmeni, a district belonging to Kadıköy. The quarter located on the asian side of İstanbul is undergoing steady reconstruction. With a lot of artists residing there and the opening of new cafés and shops it is becoming one of the new hip areas of the city. During the festivals, the street artists took advantage of the huge empty murals and covered them with wall-filling paintings.
Starting in the 1980s with a growing popularity of graffity art, street art today stands for a very diferentiated forms of unconvential expression – including sticker art, video projections, street installations as well as very new forms like yarn bombing or lock on sculpture. Inherent to the work as a street artist is worldwide travelling and working: festivals provide one of the main stages for the creation of street art.
It is often called “urban” or even “guerilla art” which implies already its closeness to urban forms of protest: Used on private property without permission it aims at reclaiming the urban space, but the line to vandalism migth be hard to draw. Especially graffity without formal permission is mostly seen as an illegal act.
As it is an art of the urban and non-profitly orientated to directly reaching the public, street art often refers to social problems related to the city and can therefore be used as a form of protest. In the artwork of Yeldeğirmeni one can see references to the Gezi Movement of 2013 as the artists take on symbols of the protest – the gas mask and the penguin.