Ali Cem Doğan
Umurbey is one of the first industrial districts of İzmir. Today, with its prime location on the periphery of the city center, it has been on the radar of investors. Umurbey also houses Darağaç Collective, which was founded in 2016, and carries out its production and interaction with the dynamics of the neighborhood. Umurbey used to be called Darağaç. It is currently located in the area between Alsancak Stadium and Halkapınar, and used to be surrounded by Sümerbank, Şark Sanayi Kumpanyası, Tariş depots and Electric Company. Today, the remnants of this industrial zone can be found here along with small industrial enterprises and artist studios.
Although the buildings towering over the neighborhood and their artificial hustle have not yet penetrated the streets of Umurbey, its residents know that transformation is inevitable. With the stories of its residents who lived here for generations, craftsmen who keep their hopes high in spirit of resistance in their small workshops and artists who try to survive by adding value to spaces they inhabit, Umurbey does not shy away from presenting its layers to those keen on understanding it.
Residents of Umurbey know and still call the area as Darağaç neighborhood. The negative connotations of Darağaç (hanging tree) turn into a melancholic dream by way of residents’ humorous attitude towards life. They hustle and give all they have to live in this neighborhood -the neighborhood that will be demolished one day- as if it is their last day there.
On the walls of the neighborhood coffeeshop, you can still see photos of people and what they wrote about this neighborhood. The memory of the neighborhood is shaped by stories of these characters. In a sense, I wanted to add new photos to that wall by portraits and testimonies of characters living in Darağaç today.