The Garden of (not) Forgetting 

Artistic research / İstanbul, Frankfurt, Münster / Depo İstanbul / with Eda Aslan

Unutma Bahçesi; The Garden of (not) Forgetting focus on the destructive nature of forced movements and transformations and the traces of memory left by them. The project asks in the face of possible move and destruction of the only Botanical Garden of Istanbul University due to authorities decision: “Is it possible to record a place, to keep its memory alive, to make space for the garden in urban memory?”. The project, which was initially centred around the Istanbul University Institute of Botanics, Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden and the plant life established here; gained new layers as it extended its focus to the archives, and the stories of the garden’s Jewish German founders s who were in exile in Turkey during WWII.

Exhibited at

DEPO, Istanbul, 14.04-06.06. 2021
Jewish Museum of Franconia, 14.07-26.02. 2022

for more details on the works see the online catalogue > > >

Istanbul University Institute of Botanics was founded in 1935, by the Jewish German scientists Alfred Heilbronn and Leon Brauner who were forced to leave their homeland during World War II and sought refuge in Turkey. Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden, which was established within the institute with seeds from gardens in various parts of the World and plant samples collected in Anatolia, still hosts hundreds of plants today. The garden continued to be an oasis in Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula for those who could seek and find it until it was closed for visitors in 2018.

The ruling to hand over the garden estate to the Presidency of Religious Affairs and to demolish the Institute of Botanics, which was officially announced in 2017, called attention to the building’s relationship with the city, social memory, urban and cultural heritage. In 2018, the Institute of Botanics was moved to another building affiliated with Istanbul University, to which even the students’ access was restricted. Currently owned by the Istanbul Mufti, the future of the garden and the institute buildings, whose ties with the university have been severed and its premises left in ruins, is still uncertain today. The Garden of (not) Forgetting, which was initiated in 2017 and developed in cooperation with various institutions and archive owners, has turned into a collective struggle for remembering and reminding within the landscape of Istanbul which has ceaselessly been a host to exiles.

Selected Reviews:

T24 May 20, 2021
Unutma Bahçesi ve toplayıcıların izini süren yeni toplayıcılar

Aposto May 15, 2021
Fısıldayan Bitkiler ve Hafızanın Kökleri

Art Forum, May 15, 2021

İstanbul-Berlin May 19, 2021
Remembering Exercises from The Garden of (not) Forgetting: Two Countries, Two Homes, Two Women

Middle East Eye, June 6, 2021
Istanbul's Alfred Heilbronn Botanical Garden and its contested history

Exhibition support: Arda Aslan, Rana İncesoy