As much as I wrote about the discomfort and stress I get in Istanbul, I should also mention the comfort zones, the pleasures even if they may be in the midst of the dreaded construction everywhere. There are still pleasant sides of Istanbul and you can find them.
Let’s Talk About the Pleasant Sides
Around the house, we always had a good time; dead-end street, open field in front of the balcony, cats and kittens everywhere, and the comfortable atmosphere were all enjoyable. The house cat, Gündüz, is a very pleasant cat and a good photographic model. You will meet him in one of Jan’s photographs below. The outside cats and their kittens are all taken care of but they don’t enter the house. We were bound to see them anywhere, all eight kittens and two mothers, even in the field as Jan captured them under the trees.
Markets Are Colorful and Authentic
Two markets we always visit, Kuzguncuk and Kadikoy markets are always colorful although there may be fewer vendors in the fall. Kuzguncuk is one of the rare districts that has managed to retain its character with older houses, a shopping strip, a few restaurants that remain about the same as before. Kadikoy market is a bit larger with more permanent structures and stores.
Catch an Interesting Art Exhibit
One day, Jan and I went to Galatasaray to visit the spice shop Nuh’un Ambari (Noah’s Pantry, loosely translated.) The area has changed quite a lot, and there was the new Yapı Kredi Bank building with a glass façade that let the passers-by enjoy the interesting architecture and the Akdeniz (Mediterranean) sculpture by Ilhan Kuman. It is visible in one of Jan’s photographs. When it stood on the street, it looked more impressive because of its scale which lost a little impact high up and behind the glass façade. Nevertheless, it was good to see a tasteful architectural example of the new structure, a stark contrast to many new buildings.
Then, there is Istanbul Modern which was one of the sites of the Istanbul Biennial in addition to having its own exhibits. You will see many photographs from Istanbul Modern in both Jan’s and my collections below. Ergun arranged for someone to drive us to the museum, and later on, to pick us up. The weather was very good as you will see in the photographs. We entered the Biennial shows on the first floor with interesting work and some installation art. Without reading about them, some are hard to decipher even though they may be attractive.
Then, we found the elevator and went up to the second floor, bought our tickets, and entered the exhibit hall. The main exhibit there was “Artists in Their Time” which contained some retrospectives and some new works by various artists. I tried to identify them as much as I could, you will find the information in the title if available.
Lunch Overlooking the Bosphorus
We had a nice lunch in the museum restaurant. Even though the balcony seating was not available initially, they came and offered to take us out to the open air in a few minutes. We could see the Bosphorus, the Anatolian shore, the Sarayburnu peninsula that houses the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and St. Sophia Basilica. I enjoyed trying to capture seagulls behind the sunshades and even managed to accidentally capture a helicopter!
After lunch, we completed the tour of the interesting show with many interesting pieces. One, in particular, was noteworthy. Bring Yourself To Me was a collection of 19 suitcases, 19 chairs, and many magnifying glasses arranged on the floor with a sign that invited the visitor to interact with it. The old beat-up suitcases dated back to the 1890s and were partially painted with gold paint. The essential point seemed to make the art accessible to the visitors and make them feel comfortable in front of art installations.
A really interesting piece was a video installation, Undressing by Nibar Güreş, in which she removed layers of headscarves depicting different personalities and revealing herself in the end. I constructed the following video from the still images I captured at certain intervals to give a sense of her original work which was far more fluid and moving. I have obtained permission from the artist to show this derivative work. I am not aware of, nor have I been able to find a Web site for Nibar Güreş to share with you.
On the way out, we faced the view that was invaded by construction all around. The Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque looked as if retreated or pushed to a corner, with the construction site and equipment covering much of the ground. Even when we had lunch, we saw construction down below the balcony.
Start with Jan’s photographs then move on to mine. Fair warning, there are many photographs, if you don’t see them all the first time, come back and finish the tour.
These are Jan’s photographs covering a range of subjects
Here are my photographs from Istanbul Modern