In her photographic series titled Transformer, Sevim Sancaktar tracks the murals painted on electrical transformers throughout Istanbul. As what can be surmised to be an attempt by the state to offset the tolls of widespread demolition of green—and public—spaces in a city overrun by concrete, shopping malls, and ongoing construction projects, the municipality began to collaborate with commercial art houses to paint colorful murals on the otherwise dreary surfaces of transformers beginning in 2006. The municipality commissioned 73 such murals in total, many of which depict elements of green landscapes, with the first one appearing in the working-class district of Şişli. Given the general positive reception of these murals in Istanbul (Sancaktar admitted in conversation that she herself initially found them to be pleasant), other municipalities throughout the country began to follow suit. But despite their pretensions otherwise, these murals do not exist in a vacuum, and it is precisely the problematic way in which they interacted with—or rather, seemingly ignored—the social fabric and lived reality of the city that prompted Sancaktar to investigate them more closely during her walks.

Transformer by Sevim Sancaktar