Papergirl: the art of giving art

Visual Sunday

Initiated in Berlin six years ago by art-activist Aisha Ronniger, at a time when putting posters on street walls became illegal, the Papergirl project aims at performing street art in new and innovative ways.

With a name referring to American paperboys delivering rolled-up newspapers from their bikes, the purpose of the project is collecting artworks via a non-selective open call, then biking around a chosen city to distribute rolls of art pieces to strangers and observing their reactions.

Having expanded to Romania, the UK, the US, South Africa and Australia, Papergirl reached its first Middle-eastern city, Istanbul, this year. After meeting with Aisha in Berlin, the 100 percent female six-member Istanbul team enthusiastically decided to export the concept to the streets of the Turkish city. Excited about “bringing art to the streets without breaking any laws,” Seyda Cetin, Cigdem Asatekin and their four teammates organised their first open call. “We had many many submissions, which really was beyond our expectations,” recalls Seyda Cetin. “Especially after having been warned by Aisha not to have too high expectations.”

Taking classes in culture management proved to be a smart choice for the six art graduates who form Papergirl Istanbul. Seyda Cetin: “We covered art reviews and websites with advertisement for our open call. And suddenly, we were starting to receive art works from Korea, Scotland, Canada, Italy; even Australia!” She continues: “We also received a lot of contributions from the rest of Turkey, which was interesting since most people still think that artists are based in Istanbul while the rest of the country remains unproductive art-wise,” she explains. The team even received more boxes of art works a few minutes before launching the two-week exhibit in Milk gallery at the end of May.

The girls are preparing their bikes for next week’s grand tour of Istanbul — which was wisely postponed to after today’s elections. One clue on where you might find them if you’re currently in Istanbul: bike-friendly, in other words flat, neighbourhoods.

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