golden butterflies

photos by burak serin

public monument project
with şevval kılıç and derin cankaya
istanbul, 2014.

ülker sokak, a street where trans woman sex workers used to live and work, has been “refined” from the trans women who have been there since late 80’s as a part of the arrangements made in the city for habitat 2- (the second united nations conference on human settlements), causing them to be expelled from the street. ‘golden butterflies’ is a trans-women monument to make the city memory visible, after it has been erased by these incidents of what can be called urban transformation. it has been created by placing 99 golden butterflies* on a wall located in the street, for the 99 girls who had lived in ülker sokak in 1996.

a month after bringing the monument to life, the wall which had the text of the dedication “to the 99 golden girls who saw the golden age of ülker street” on it, has been wiped clean, which, by itself is enough to summarize the policy of violence against, and invisibility of trans women in turkey today.

* butterfly, is a symbol used by trans movement (even though some trans men don’t own it because of its ‘female connotations’) for its associations connected to transformation and fragility; re the trans individuals that are undergoing a bodily transformation and the feeling of insecurity caused by the constant threat of transphobic violence, that usually leads to the unsolved and unattended murders of trans individuals.