by Can Sungu
Published in Smuggling Anthologies Reader. The Smuggling Anthologies project, held from 2013 to 2015 on the „interstitial territory“ of three European countries (Croatia, Slovenia and Italy) was carried out by leading institutions: the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, Croatia; the Municipal Museum in Idrija, Slovenia; and Trieste Contemporanea in Trieste, Italy. The topic of the two-year project was a critical historical connection between them—smuggling. The Smuggling Anthologies Reader, produced after a two-year project crosses boundaries of different disciplines in three modes: documentary, fictional and theoretical.
Before the invention of “cheap flights”, cars were the most important means of long distance travel for Turkish “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter) living in Germany. The train was too slow and time-consuming and flights were too expensive. Another reason not to prefer air travel was the luggage restrictions that made it nearly impossible to carry the whole bunch of bayram presents to home. Bragging about the brand new German car and the relief that the amount of luggage is merely restricted by father’s skills of packaging, made the car trips more attractive. Many “first” items were carried from Germany to Turkey in the trunk: Deodorants, soaps, radios, binoculars, colour TV’s… Every new good which was brought along from Germany provided a great attraction and strengthened the “positive clichés” about the German technology and the occidentalist analyses of German and/or Western cultures. The almost hysterical desire for Western consumer products resulted in such a craze that even the people without any relatives abroad wished to own one of these products. Due to high tariffs and inadequate mass purchasing power in the 1980’s Turkey, especially electronics made in Germany were regarded as luxuries. Therefore, everything that did not fit anymore into the “father’s car” was carried with pickup trucks. In addition to this, a group of guest workers who permanently travelled to Turkey in the early 1980s, unintentionally established a smuggling route which eventually evolved into a “silk road” for professional smugglers. …
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