project image
Unknown passerby

first performed on June 24, 2018
a middle school parking lot, Istanbul, Turkey
performed 26 times in 2018


Ali Sarugan, Noah Ross, Josie Bettman

Istanbul, Turkey


After moving back to Istanbul from Poughkeepsie two years ago, I felt foreign and scared so I started experimenting with the concept of home, wondering whether a home is something that can be carried within. In the political climate where the indoors home has become a safe space to retrieve as a reaction against the fear of the public space, I wanted to build imaginary homes rhizomatically in the agoras of the cityscape: opening up invisible hence unbound homes in different neighborhoods. The picnic, as it is a communal activity recognizable across class, race, gender or time with the inherent air of ease, familiarity and playfulness appeared to me as the most refined and open-ended form to explore the urban togetherness that I was trying to sense.

I started these solo picnic series the day of the referendum in Istanbul. My first pipnic was out in the parking lot of the school I voted in, it was almost a ritual to somehow affect the results of the election, but clearly, my one habitat cannot affect an entire ecosystem.

As I continue with these pipnics, my presence as an urban pipnicker grows sideways. I pick different neighborhoods slowly moving further away from home in tiny sideways growing roots, interacting with individuals I normally would never cross paths with. I have been collecting stories and artifacts, slowly building a language of objects, sounds, scents, and movement.

Every pipnic allows me to experience the inhabitants of neighborhoods or the currents of the cityscape. The geographic story that I am the subject of as the pipnicker is a fluid one, and the picnic blanket traces the moments where I come to a halt.

My utensils range from stuff I have collected from trash to repurpose: tampon applicator, hair curler and straightener set from the 70s, plastic bottle caps, egg carton; residue of my pipnic food such as nut shells and fruit seeds; tree bark, leaves and petals from city parks, and other miscellaneous items such as head massage device, Barbie doll legs, straw, work gloves, etc.

The performance space is made up of a picnic blanket and basket. Props, utensils, etc. are all found objects of the geography. I prefer to use as much natural or otherwise existing light and sound.

The performances have ranged from three to eight hours according to the level of interaction with the audience and availability of space-time.