Temporary Person Passing Through


Public Intervention | Neon | Photographs


Neon text piece (Turkish edition)


Temporary Person Passing Through will resurrect and introduce to Istanbul the defunct pictorial alphabet of ‘Hobo Signs’ used by Hobos, who were rootless migrant workers in the USA from the late 19th to the mid 20th century. Hobos traveled across the country by hopping freight trains, looking for work wherever it was to be found. The symbols were used to give fellow hoboes directions, find work, and stay clear of trouble. Generally they were written with chalk, or coal, on sidewalks, buildings, railcars, and road signs. After World War II Hobo Culture more or less died off in the USA, and theses days instead of using Hobo Signs, the remaining Hoboes communicate with mobile phones and e-mail. (O.B.)


Using spray paint, chalk, stencils and stickers Berchem marked signs on buildings, walls and pavements in Galata, Beyoglu. He also placed signs and small neon’s in shop windows and on security boxes. The meanings of the signs are known only to the initiated, and their very existence points to this mysterious group. Each week a glossary of the signs will be circulated in the biennial newspaper. The signs resurface inside the Biennial venues in a series of photographic.

A neon text piece Temporary Person Passing Through (on Platform in Turkish and the Garanti building in English) draws our attention to these other inhabitants of the city, those with whom we share the same streets and yet to whose daily reality we give/spare not a thought unless we happen to run into them. [Esra Sarigedik]