Sazak is a mountain village located in Karaburun, Izmir on the Aegean coast of Turkey and is just one of many Greek villages forcibly evacuated in 1922.
The Greek residents of this and surrounding villages, who once grew rosica grapes in their vineyards and produced delicious wines and molasses, were considered together with the Greek army that invaded Izmir. The Greek residents were driven to the sea at the coves around Karaburun, killed and deported and the villages they left behind were plundered, although they actually had the same rights in these lands as those who remained.
Since those times, for 87 years, Sazak remained desolate, solitary and unprotected on the steep slop facing toward the islands of Lesvos and Chios, where there are still stone houses and unique silhouettes.
In August 2008, about 50 citizens from Patras, Greece, came to Karaburun, Izmir in Turkey. They were the grandchildren of those who were forced to leave the lands which they would visit after 87 years as part of the 2nd Karaburun Peninsula Greek-Turkish Friendship Days.
As they were going to the Kucukbahce village for the first dinner to meet with the local people on the evening of August 6, their bus stopped and they got out. They looked at the village of Sazak, or Sazaki as they call it, lying far away in the falling darkness of the evening.
The second dinner would be at the village of Sarpincik on the next day.
I wanted to salute them by making an art performance at the village of Sazak on August 7, i.e. on the same day as that last dinner.
I posted the performance announcement on walls in the town and the surrounding villages days before:
"I will try to clear the village of Sazak from thistles, which covers its heavy emptiness like a heartrending veil, from dawn to dusk on the Seventh of August, 2009. Your participation is welcome at my performance."
For me, trying to clear the covering of thistles at Sazak is a symbolic cleansing meant to open the way for rescuing the village from the lonely, derelict, unprotected state in which it has been left together with its painful past for 87 years.
Also to transform it to one of the symbols of Greek-Turkish friendship, which I believe will develop ever more with each passing day.
I asked for permission, in a way, from the earlier owners of each house, who are no longer there, before clearing the thistles.
This video is documentary of this performance.