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Arts and Basic Rights

Austrian Artist Manfred Grübl in Istanbul

Screening of One Day Home, May 21st 7 pm at Studio-X Istanbul


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Getting in Touch

Manfred Grübl is the recent artist in residence in Istanbul by the Austrian Cultural Program backed by Austrian Federal Chancellery. He lives and works for three month in Istanbul since March 2015.

We visit him in his Istanbul studio:

An outstanding modern building in Cihangir, Firuzağa Mahalle. The doorman asks about the purpose of your visit and nodds understandingly when you query where to find „the Avusturyalı“. „The Austrian“ is Manfred Grübl, artist from Vienna, who is currently living and working in Istanbul as a stipendiary organised and backed by the Austrian Federal Chancellery, Arts Section.

361_large_marke2He lives in the studio together with his wife and his daughter, whereas the dog had to stay in Austria: „Actually, it’s a Turkish dog! I bought it here 12 years ago on a bazaar“ he tells. The place is light and bright, it speaks of family life, of being strangers in Istanbul and of Grübl’s artwork: His drawings are hanging on the wall right next to the ones of his daughter, alongside a city map and some detailled photos of a minaret.

„Actually I am drawing a lot here at the moment“, he states. „Drawing has often helped me to get started in foreign cities.“ In not more than 10 minutes each he depicts the loudspeakers shaping the appearance of the surrounding minarets, the Blue Mosque and images of upcoming art projects.

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Manfred Grübl is a tall, bearded man around 50 and he is excited about the diversity Istanbul has to offer. He spent the morning taking pictures of residential areas on the Asian side of the Bosporus. Grübl has been studying architecture and sculpting and is preferentially developing installations in the last years. „This is an interesting field of work for me as it allows to combine different types of media“, he says. In the course of this credo he has had a barking conversation with his dog or positioned mute and stiff observers in an exhibition. Getting in interaction with the audience means a lot to him as one of his latest works shows: People are asked to send him a letter and will not only receive a reply in return but a card including an official Austrian stamp imaging himself.


One Day Home

gecekondoGecekondu in the centre of Istanbul

In Istanbul he is not only replying to letters and preparing projects he is going to realise when back in Austria. His interests are focused on urban development, the transformation of cities and basic rights.

On May 21st at 7 pm Studio-X Istanbul is screening the movie “One Day Home” by Manfred Grübl and Werner Schrödl. After the screening there will be an artist talk.


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The movie One Day Home is an attempt to realize the dream of a self-built home. The main themes of the project are issues of autonomy and independence from large networks, the ability for self-organization, and the demand for rights, in particular fundamental rights that protect the people against the state. Fundamental rights are closely linked to the idea of human rights, which find their philosophical roots in the idea of natural rights, according to which there are „legal principles“ which are stronger than any law.

As an example of these fundamental rights, they wanted to identify the „gecekondus“, the Turkish term for an informal settlement or unplanned neighborhood with simple accommodation buildings.

According to this rule houses, which are built during one night on public grounds, cannot be demolished by the authorities, even though they are constructed illegally. Although not fixed in any law, this proceeding led to enormous expansions of Turkish cities, e.g. Istanbul, during the last decades as the quarters aroused like this were authorized by the state every some years.

The Presentation arranged by the InEnArt team will be followed by a discussion on the effects on urban developmet in Turkey an elsewhere.

After the screening there will be an artist talk.


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„For me it is a question of basic rights: The right, to choose your place of living and the right to engross public spaces“, Grübl mentions. For „One Day Home“ he made use of his fundamental right and ordered 40 cubic meters of wood waste to a parking lot in Vienna, which is located in a very urban, busy area. During one day he and his colleague built a multifunctional wooden “Gecekondu”-house out of the material, according to their sketches and with the helping hands of passers-by. The next morning they moved their house on a lorry and brought it to the Attersee, a lake, about 250 kilometers away. „Werner Schrödl grew up in the neighborhood of this lake, which is now a very well-off area. We observed the selling of all the lakefront properties since the 1980’s and now wanted to create a contrast to this“, Grübl tells. They set their wooden house on barrels, transformed it into a boat and spent an entire day on the lake. „Like this, we claimed our right to live on this lake – which is basically a public space – as well.“



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Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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