Identification of the Dunes, Invention of the Coast 

Artistic research and lecture performance / İstanbul / AVTO 
The project is developed within the scope of the Mahsul and Shorelines projects.

In the 20th century, rural areas of Anatolia underwent a transformation into sites for research and development in modernization projects. One of the responsibilities assigned to foresters in this field was the identification and reclamation of active coastal sand dunes. Professor İbrahim Atay aimed to stabilize the “active” dunes, which he believed would cause “myriad and very significant damages,” through landscape interventions that became increasingly prevalent in the latter half of the 20th century. State narratives depicted the dunes as either a hard-to-handle monster or a barren desert where not even a blade of grass would grow. During this period, thousands of hectares of sand dune areas on the Anatolian shores were reclaimed with seeds from distant lands and through imported architectural interventions. Despite being arguably viable solutions by then, the landscape and plants had a shared fate in terms of displacement. Originally devised for and belonging to elsewhere they were not quite fitting into the natural setting but the project went on regardless. Ultimately, the monster was tamed, and the desert was rejuvenated to a state where it could yield crops. The identification of the dunes also paved the way for the invention of the coast. Initially, a new nature emerged, followed by the development of agricultural fields on the coasts, and the subsequent rise of holiday resorts.

Architect and researcher Dilşad Aladağ’s lecture-performance, titled “Identification of the Dune, Invention of the Coast,” is based on Professor İbrahim Atay’s book “Identification and Afforestation Technique of Dunes,” published in 1972. It will begin with an intergenerational dialogue between the performer and the author through his voice memos, exploring the contrasts between the perspectives of identifier and reclaimer, companion seeds, and architectural interventions. This fictive dialogue will take past studies conducted on the Mediterranean coasts into account and aim to ignite discussions on the practices that lay the groundwork for the transformation of Turkey’s coasts.

Images: Screenshots from performance shot made by Doğa Yirik, AVTO on 21.12.2023

Reference: İbrahim Atay, Identification and Afforestation Technique of Dunes, Istanbul University Faculty of Forestry, Kurtulmuş Printing House, Istanbul, 1972.

Developed as part of the research Shorelines, “Identification of the Dune, Invention of the Coast” is supported by the British Council’s Creative Collaborations Grant Programme.

Essay & Talk:

A Fictive Dialogue on Coastal Dunes

09.03.2024, Performance Ecologies Program curated by Eylem Ejder

We are delighted to have two special guest speakers this Saturday (2.30pm-4pm, GMT+3) to talk about performance lectures. Theatre scholar and performance artist Clio Unger is joining us with her talk titled "Consuming Art/Consuming Knowledge?" to be followed by architect and researcher Dilşad Aladağ’s presentation titled "A Fictive Dialogue on Coastal Dunes".

The talk "A Fictive Dialogue on Coastal Dunes" is about Dilşad Aladağ's lecture performance and research process titled "Identification of the Dune, Invention of the Coast" which was developed within the scope of the Mahsul and Shorelines projects. It explores the methodological potentials of a fictive dialogue as a performative research and lecture experience.