These short documentary films were created as part of EAA – Emre Arolat Architects’ exhibition “Genç Cumhuriyet’in Cesur Hamlesi Olarak Mecidiyeköy Likör ve Kanyak Fabrikası ve Dahası: Kent Hafızası Bağlamında Vıkvıklanmalar” (Mecidiyeköy Liqueur and Cognac Factory As The Daring Move Of The Young Republic and More: Grumbling In The Context Of City Memory) which was held between February 12 and March 24, 2019 in Pilevneli Gallery Mecidiyeköy.
The main film brings the architects and experts together, in order to shed some light to the much debated and rarely agreed-upon, controversial restoration and eventual reconstruction project of the Liqueur and Cognac Factory. Designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens and built in 1931, decommissioned in 2000 and later used as a tax administration building, the factory was deemed unsalvageable and demolished. This decision was followed by the reconstruction of its exact replica and sparked heated debates in the Turkish architectural scene.
On a side note, the name of this exhibition also caused further controversy. “Vıkvık” (an onomatopoeic and potentially insulting slang used for speaking nonsense, à la “gurgling”) was used to describe the various multitude of criticism targeting the project over the course of almost 15 years.
During the preparation for the production and after the announcement of the exhibition, through her granddaughter, Sema Ölçer came forward as the daughter of the first manager of the Tekel (Turkish State Liquor and Tobacco Monopoly) Liqueur and Cognac Factory. Her oral recounting of history, childhood memories and personal archive of photographs were gathered and made into a separate short documentary about the initial years of the factory, along with the surrounding neighborhood of Mecidiyeköy and the early years of modern Istanbul.
After almost 80 years, Sema Ölçer revisits the now reconstructed factory, which once served as her childhood house, her dad’s workplace, and at times, her playground.