“The Air of Conflict that Our World is Caught in, All Those Human Losses, Misery Need Healing. Colorful Scenes Might be a Remedy”




Source of Screenshots:  


In 2013, a retired forestry engineer named Huseyin Cetinel, age 64, decided to perform an act of guerilla beautification: He decided to paint the Findikli stairs in the central district of Beyoglu in Istanbul, Turkey, the colors of the rainbow instead of the grey that they were painted. Residents of the city liked the change, and they quickly began to pose on the brightly painted steps for photographs. A Twitter user posted this in August 2013: “Don’t you think Findikli Stairs are just amazing? Thanks to those who did it.” Mr. Cetinel said that he wanted “to make people smile,” and so he had spent $800 on the paint and worked four days with help from his son-in-law to paint the stairs. Unfortunately, government authorities thought that the steps were an activist act showing support for gay rights — after all, the rainbow is a symbol of gay pride. Therefore, at night on August 30, the government-run municipality had the rainbow colors painted over, returning the stairs to their former grey color. Of course, Mr. Cetinel was disappointed. He said that nature, including “cats, birds, flowers, mountains,” is brightly colored. He asked, “Where does this gray come from? Did we have another Pompeii and got flooded with ash?” People disliked the repainting of the stairs, and in cities across Turkey they began to paint public stairs the colors of the rainbow. A Twitter user wrote, “Slowly, Turkey’s stairs are picking up rainbow colors, don’t you think it’s more beautiful this way?” A newspaper cover with many photographs of brightly painted stairs — shown on Instagram — called it “The most colorful protest.” And for many Turks, it is a protest. Nalan Ozgul, a female financial adviser, said, “There has been some movement in the society, a social uprising together with the Gezi Park protests [people protested plans to replace a park with a shopping mall], and this is just an extension of that spirit. The fact that the government-run municipality first denied having painted over the stairs, then agreed to paint them back in color, shows how desperate and indecisive they are about their policies.” For others, the colorful stairs are simply a work of art that brightens a world that needs color. In September, a bride, Gamze Ozmermer, and her groom posed on the once again brightly colored Findikli stairs for wedding photos. She said, “Where could be a better setting? The air of conflict that our world is caught in, all those human losses, misery need healing. Colorful scenes might be a remedy.”

For Further Information: Sebnem Arsu and Robert Mackey, “With a Burst of Color, Turkey’s Public Walkways Become a Focus of Quiet Protest.” The Lede. Blog. New York Times. 3 September 2013


For Further Information: Sumrue, Photograph. Instagram. Accessed 5 September 2013


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