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Merve Gül Özokcu

Studio grant holder in Stockholm 1 February – 30 April 2022

Merve Gül Özokcu is an Istanbul-based architect, researcher and activist. She has been conducting participatory projects and working on creative actions for over 10 years. Her works, along with Architecture for All collective, have a social impact on political-based problems, prioritize on-site and together interventions and adopt a proactive approach, which can be viewed at https://herkesicinmimarlik.org/en/. Projects that she has been she part of have focused on transformation of rural buildings as women’s and children’s spaces, spaces of alternative education and the re-possession of public spaces.

During her IASPIS residency, Merve will be working on her Women Narrative Spaces project, which brings together her experience of the interviews from participatory fieldwork and the oral history research that uses cooking together as a tool starting with her grandmother. In this part of her research, she will be looking into migration/women archives and interviewing migrant women. This is an attempt to travel with women through their geographies while daily routines reveal spaces of caring and encounter the inherent collective aspects of food. Oral history becomes a tool through which eco-feminist perspectives reveal the social reproduction of architecture. Her research path is starting from eating-cooking habits and their relationship with the place. She is looking into the memories of the cuisines women were a part of in their lives, and how this interacts/adapts with geography. What is shared, how it is transferred to the present and the relationship between memory and the daily routines of food and space. Her intention is that these conversations are a guide to strengthen commons (sharing and solidarity practices). She sees the documenting of routines inherent in stories and the adaptation of the changes by place and time as a decolonization practice.

Merve is a part-time lecturer in various universities and a PhD candidate at İTÜ Istanbul Technical University. She got her master degree with the thesis on “Alternative Processes and On-Site Performance in Architecture Education and Practice”. The thesis discusses “How an alternative process can be organized in the premises of architecture”, with concepts such as power, biopolitics and precarity and the system in which these concepts operate through language/discourse and education. Merve is involved in many collective projects that are exhibited such as Chicago Architecture Biennial, Venice Architecture Biennial, Istanbul Design Biennial, Salt Istanbul, V&A Museum London, MAXXI Rome and ngbk Berlin. She was a participating artist at the Swedish institute’s Equal Spaces project and a grant holder of IKSV Design Resilience programme. She is a part of the research collective, Arazi Assembly (http://araziassembly.org/) based in the Southeast region of Turkey which considers knowledge production as a form of decolonization, care and solidarity.