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Street Art in Istanbul Photo: Street art Istanbul on Facebook
Street Art in Istanbul Photo: Street art Istanbul on Facebook

There’s an app for that. Two Turkish curators, Erbil Sivaslıoğlu and Onur Erdemol, have created a new iPhone app that catalogues and maps out Istanbul’s best street art, according to the Hurriyet Daily. The app features detailed descriptions of the works, the artists who created them, and other related pieces nearby.

It marks an increasing appreciation for street art in Turkey as a means of artistic and political expression, following the past year’s political unrest surrounding the Gezi Park protests and, more recently, in response to the Soma Mine. Sivaslıoğlu, who also serves as curator at the Bitti Gitti Art Center in Istanbul told the Hurriyet: “Graffiti is now recognized as a legitimate reaction to injustice, a cry for revolution, a way to create awareness of socio-political issues, an expression of hope for the future, an effort to reclaim public spaces, or an attempt to beautify miserable buildings.”

Critics have suggested that the project serves to promote vandalism that has a negative effect on the environment and degrade a neighborhood’s perceived safety. They’ve also objected to the anti-government themes present in much of the graffiti that has recently popped up around Istanbul, dissension for which the regime itself has shown very little patience.

However, Sivaslıoğlu counters, “Graffiti is not vandalism so long as it is not rude or offensive. Most graffiti helps buildings look better.” He and Erdemol plan for Istanbul to be just the first of many cities’ street art scenes to map out on their app. Next up: New York and London.

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