"The Situation" II - Istanbul/Algiers

…In the course of this necessary yet aimless walking, we realize the limits of our bodies.

Amira-Géhanne Khalfallah is an Algerian filmmaker, playwright, novelist and independent journalist. She has a degree in cellular and molecular biology, but eventually moved towards writing. Most recently, her short Esseghayra won the Special Mention of the jury at the 2020 Berlinale film festival.


I’m stuck in Turkey for a month, and I don’t know how and when I can go back home.
However, one thing is certain in these trouble times: I like to be in Istanbul.

Since it’s ill, the city allows itself to be looked at.

Here, it is the elderly and the children that are in quarantine. We no longer hear the hordes of kids playing in the streets: the only proof of their existence are their newly-washed clothes hanging on endless clothing lines. Women, too, have disappeared. They are not confined but it happened naturally, as if a tacit admission of their vulnerability. The city now belongs to men…

The ferries keep moving between the two sides of the Bosporus, bringing people to their workplaces. In Turkey, we are only allowed to work. We can’t sit on a park bench. We can’t stop. It's not possible to rest. We have to walk all the time, keep going. I do not take the metro, a bus, a tram, or a taxi… There is no longer technology to rescue the body. In the course of this necessary yet aimless walking, we realize the limits of our bodies.

I am thinking of all the displaced people on the other side of the border, forced to walk in order to save their lives without being able to stop.

And in this endless walking, I also sense how the first men and women moved before they came to subject animals to their needs, before the invention of the wheel… I am walking as if humanity was just beginning.

I feel my body only, its limits and vulnerability. I measure tiredness differently; I experience it differently; I live in my body differently.