November 24, 2011

6th Edition of Contemporary Istanbul Fair Unveiled

One of the highlights of the winter cultural agenda in Turkey, the sixth edition of the international contemporary art fair Contemporary Istanbul -- an event widely viewed as Turkey’s most prestigious contemporary art platform -- kicked off on Thursday at the vast 12,500-square-meter Lutfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by four alternative musical acts: Paris-based experimental musician Tal Isaac Hadad, pioneering Scandinavian production duo Renaissance Man, Bulgarian act Voin De Voin, who presented his performance “Play,” unconventional Turkish artist Özgür Erkök and German-based Erdem Helvacıoğlu, who staged a performance of his electronica musical “Farewell Istanbul.”

With representatives present from 90 international galleries, 42 of which are from outside Turkey, the total value of the works showcased at the fair is a dizzying TL 80 million. A total of 3,000 works on show courtesy of 550 artists hailing from 22 countries span a multitude of disciplines, including painting, sculpting, photography, installation, graphics, plastic arts, video and new media art.

Istanbul Prepares to Host Meshell Ndegeocello at Tamirane

Meshell Ndegeocello, a leading artist in the neo-soul movement and a 10-time Grammy nominee, will perform at Tamirane on Nov. 26 as part of a European tour promoting her new album, “Weather.”

“Weather,” Ndegeocello’s ninth album, showcases her iconic style and was released Nov. 8 on “Naïve” records. Once again, she continues to defy boundaries between jazz, soul, hip-hop and funk with her new material.

According to Ndegeocello, singing and playing bass at the same time is a difficult task because they work using very separate parts of brain. “I did not begin to sing until after I began trying to be a bassist,” she said during a recent interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.

Istanbul: Readers' Tips, Recommendations and Travel Advice

Istanbul is one of the most interesting cities to visit and there is so much to see you would ideally need at least a five-day break.

Flying in to Istanbul Atatürk Airport means a 30-minute journey into the city centre.

The big sites, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Cistern and the Grand Bazaar, are all within 10 minutes' walk of the hotel and the hotel's rooftop terrace provides a wonderful view over the Bosporus and Marmaris Sea.

A short tram journey takes you to the waterfront at Eminonu where a day's ferry cruise is available up the Bosporus to the entry to the Black Sea and calling at various stops on either side for around £10.

Short Film World in Istanbul

The 23rd Istanbul International Short Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday (23 November). The festival aims at providing a base to make the voices of young directors heard and to promote the short film.

The opening ceremony was held at the Movie Theatre of the French Culture Centre on Thursday. This year, a total of 156 films are being screened between 23 and 30 November.

The tradition to have the opening speech delivered by a different artist every year was also held up for the 2011 festival. This year, director and screenwriter Ümit Ünal talked about "Art of Cinema and Short Film".

This year's program is based on four main categories: Narrative Films, Animation Films, Documentaries and Experimental Films.

Also within the framework of this year's festival, an anthology of German short films will be shown in the section entitled "Soiree Allemande". The short films are chosen from productions screened at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival held in February 2011. The organizers describe the topics of these films as "sometimes strange, sometimes emotional, sometimes political and sometimes funny".

Read more on Bianet: Short Film World in Istanbul

Turkish Coffee House Talk Could Teach the World a Thing or Two

The coffee house was invented almost five centuries ago, in Istanbul. But it wasn't Turks who turned the concept into a global business model, it was the Americans. While Turkish waiters kept on serving traditional coffee and water pipes to their loyal customers at cheap prices, Americans designed menus full of delicacies and calories, decorated their coffee houses with comfy chairs, and offered free Wi-Fi. Nevertheless they will still find it hard to convince loyal Turkish coffee addicts like me into giving up our die-hard drinking habits: for us, the siren logo represents terrible coffee consumed over comfortable furniture and the flavour of Turkish coffee remains indispensable.

It is good news for us, then, that Turkish coffee culture has now pitched up right in the centre of London: a few weeks ago, Kahve Dünyası ("The Coffee World"), our tardy response to the Starbucks model, opened in Piccadilly Circus. The chain was established as late as 2004 in Istanbul's Eminonu district, where the first ever coffee house opened its doors in 1555. Many Turks have fallen for Kahve Dünyası's traditional but also conveniently modern ways: there are 68 types of coffee on offer as well as an extensive chocolate collection. Orders are taken by a waiter and not at a counter, and the Turkish coffee will arrive at your table the way you like it: plain, or with little, medium or lots of sugar.

Garanti Bank’s SALT Unveils Second Contemporary Space

SALT, the Beyoğlu-based, Garanti Bank-owned nonprofit organization and multifaceted arts enterprise that was launched earlier in the year, setting out to become Turkey’s biggest cultural platform, hosted the official opening of their second art and research space, SALT Galata, on Tuesday.

Located in one of the most dynamic cultural centers in Istanbul, the 15,000-square-meter building, originally designed by French Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury to house the Ottoman Bank in the 19th century, boasts extensive facilities including a 219-capacity auditorium, a workshop and conference spaces, a 410-square-meter exhibition space, open archives, a cafe, a restaurant and a bookstore.

SALT Galata also houses the much-anticipated institute SALT Research. Comprising an extensive library that focuses on the arts, architecture, design, urbanism and social and economic history as well as an archive of print and digital documents, SALT Research fills the 650-square-meter central atrium of SALT Galata, which still houses the entrances to the original bank safes.

The inauguration of the institute is marked by the opening of three exhibitions: “Open Archive 1 Foto Galatasaray” by Tayfun Serttaş, “Modern Essays 3 Modernity Unveiled/Interweaving Histories,” by Gülsün Karamustafa and “Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914.” All three will be open for public viewing until Jan. 22.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks to our American followers today!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Istanbul to Celebrate the Chinese Culture in 2012

Hundreds of ancient Chinese artifacts will be displayed at Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace, and Chinese orchestras will perform in concerts. There will also be a Chinese film week.

The year 2011 is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Chinese Embassy Undersecretary to Turkey Bengü Yiğitgüden said, adding that this was the first comprehensive joint cultural project.

In China, Turkey Culture Year will be celebrated throughout 2013.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul to Celebrate the Chinese Culture in 2012

November 21, 2011

Countdown to 23rd Istanbul International Short Film Fest

After weeks of waiting, the Istanbul International Short Film Festival, a celebration of short films from all over the world, is set to kick off on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the French Cultural Center in Taksim.

Now celebrating its 23rd edition, the festival, which runs through Nov. 30 at a number of central venues, including the Dutch Chapel, the French Cultural Center and the German Culture Center, not only opens up the way for a magical and informative cinematic journey for Istanbul audiences but also provides a dynamic networking platform for young directors on both a national and international scale.

The guest speaker at the opening reception this year will be Turkish director, screenwriter and author Ümit Ünal, who will be delivering a speech on the “Art of Cinema and Short Film.”

New Museum Dedicated to Photography Opens in City

Turkey’s first photography museum, the Istanbul Photography Museum, opened Saturday in collaboration with the Fatih Municipality and the Photography Friends Association. The museum, covering an area of 1,000 square meters in Fatih’s Kadırga district, includes five photography galleries, a photo archive and a library.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Istanbul Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Emre Bilgili said both Turkey’s and Istanbul’s photography and photographer potential was very high. “We did not have the chance to see works outside exhibitions in the past. The opening of this museum fulfilled a deficiency in Turkey.”

Biligli said the museum would be home to permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir said work for the museum started in 2009 and classes would be offered for photography students.

He said the ticket price for the museum was 2 Turkish Liras because they wanted primary school students to visit the museum.

Turkey’s renowned photography artist Ara Güler said photographs were rescued from being destroyed thanks to the museum.

The Istanbul Photography Museum aims to support the art of photography and amateur and professional photographers in Turkey and will serve as a new cultural center to develop the art of photography with collections, exhibitions, publications, photography archives, library, events, projects and educational presentations.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: New Museum Dedicated to Photography Opens in City

Eat Your Way Through Istanbul

Anne Peterson - If I learned one thing from my trip to Istanbul it was this: Avoid full meals. Amazing food is around every corner. So if you polish off a scrumptious grilled lamb kebab for lunch, when you pass a window filled with bright, glistening vegetables and savory meats you'll have instant buyer's remorse. Luckily, Istanbul lends itself to grazing, as lunches and dinners are often served meze style, on small plates brought out incrementally throughout a meal.

It's all about a little here, a little there. Snack on some roasted chestnuts after a light breakfast, and twenty minutes later stop at a lokantasi (cafeteria) to get a small plate of eggplant. Wash it all down with a fresh pomegranate juice, which can be procured from shops or vendors on nearly every corner.

Once I realized this, I knew how to eat my way through Istanbul. My favorite dining experience involved a tasting tour of the balik pazari (fish market) in the ultra hip Beyoğlu neighborhood. For those from the States, Beyoğlu recalls the trendy feel of Bucktown, Williamsburg, or Echo Park. The balik pazari is a small side street off of Istiklal Cadessi, a large pedestrian avenue crammed with boutiques and galleries. The stores may be modern, but the food is pure tradition. We stopped at one joint for midye dolmasi (mussel meat filled with cinnamon spiced rice and drenched in fresh lemon juice), found ourselves eating minced meat and pepper sandwiches from a cart, and rounded it out at a little open storefront with breaded and pan fried hamsi (fresh anchovies, which are in season during the fall.)

I had two meals that blew my young mind. One was at Çiya Sofrası, a lokantasi on the Asian side in the Kadıköy neighborhood. The hearty stews were perfect for the chilly November rain we sought refuge from. One sweet, brothy soup involved grilled peaches, chestnuts, hunks of tender lamb and soft potatoes. I drooled over the spinach and chickpeas creamed in yogurt. The divine after-meal tea was clove, cinnamon and ginger with crushed walnuts served in tiny porcelain cups.

If I had indiscriminate amounts of money, I'd fly into Istanbul every Saturday for a leisurely breakfast at Kale Café. The low-key café is right off the Bosphorus in the posh neighborhood of Rumeli Hisari. It was a 45-minute trip from our hotel, by tram, bus, and foot, and was worth every minute of transit. We discovered the spot prior to our trip on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and so before we even touched down in Istanbul, I was obsessed with finding my way to the kaymak (clotted cream) and honey. The meal did not disappoint: plump tomato slices and seasoned cucumbers, rich olives, a basket full of warm flat bread and baguettes, three salty cheeses - one fried, and tiny ramekins of pekmez (grape molasses) and tahin (lightly roasted sesame paste), which is the more flavorful cousin of peanut butter and jelly. There was also a skillet of menemen: scrambled eggs with onion, tomato, green peppers, paprika ground red pepper, salt and oregano.

Other than eating, a few notes of interest. I found the Grand Bazaar quite mediocre. It felt like an indoor mall with sanitized haggling at kiosks that carry nearly identical goods. We stayed at the Kybele Hotel, a delightful family-owned bread and breakfast decorated with antiques, centrally located near the tourist stops in Sultanahmet. Most definitely do not leave without getting a refreshing hamami. For something down and dirty try Çemberlitas, but for a more luxurious experience I've heard Les Ottomans is a must. By far my favorite part of the trip was walking around the Princes' Islands. An hour ferry ride from the city, it was a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle. While there isn't much to do, biking the gorgeous streets and then sipping tea on picturesque garden terrace were my favorite way to relax for a day in the midst of an otherwise hectic trip.

A final note, if you were to judge a culture by the way they treat their animals, Istanbul might be the most civilized city on the planet. The stray cats and dogs are fat and happy, store-owners leave out heaping dishes of food and clean water, and it is not uncommon to see an elderly gentleman rubbing the belly of a big orange tabby in the middle of a city park. My love of pets alone left me smitten with Istanbul, and any animal lover will find the countries sense of humanity quit endearing.

Read more on Huffington Post: Eat Your Way Through Istanbul

Istanbul Gets Record Budget for 2012

A record consolidated budget of 19.45 billion Turkish Liras has been allocated to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for 2012, a figure that exceeds budgets for 18 Turkish ministries.

The Istanbul municipality’s consolidated budget for next year will thus increase by 7.7 percent compared to 2011.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul Gets Record Budget for 2012

November 20, 2011

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

With the exhibition Dream and Reality - Modern and Contemporary Women Artists from Turkey, which will last until January 22, 2012, İstanbul Modern aims to put on the agenda Turkey's social and cultural transformation via the work of women artists. Centered on the position of women artists in modern and contemporary art, the show offers a new, alternative perspective on the sociocultural history of Turkey.

Curated by Fatmagül Berktay, Levent Çalıkoğlu, Zeynep İnankur, and Burcu Pelvanoğlu, the selection encompasses the works of women artists stretching from the early 1900s to our day and incorporates diverse disciplines ranging from painting to video.

The exhibition connects 74 artists, including pioneering female artists, the lives and productions of whom we know little and whose names are almost forgotten; the rediscovered moderns; and women artists who for the last four decades have been shaping the contemporary art scene with their intellectual attitude and practical actions.

Centered on the work produced by women artists for more than a century, the exhibition reminds us of the artists' pioneering position in the history of art while aiming to render visible their reckoning with Turkey's sociocultural dynamics and especially their critical position in contemporary art.

Read more on e-Flux: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Voice of Russia Starts Broadcasting in Istanbul

Russia’s radio station, Voice of Russia, which airs in important capital cities and centers around the world has begun broadcasting from its newly opened office in Istanbul.

The station, formerly named Moscow Radio during the Soviet Union, has been spreading Russia’s voice to whole world. The radio’s name was changed to Voice of Russia, when it was restructured following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The head of the radio station, Andrei Bystritskiy, mentioned in an interview with the Cihan news agency that the concept behind broadcasting had been mainly ideological during the Soviet Union, but people were no longer interested in ideologies. Bystritskiy came to Istanbul to introduce Voice of Russia’s Istanbul branch office and showed the radio station’s programming office located in the Güneşli district to the journalists at a press conference held at the radio station’s office.

Among the attendants at the press meeting were employees from the radio station and Dmitry Peskov, the press consultant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Answering questions posed by Cihan at the branch office, Bystritskiy stated that broadcasting in the Turkish language will be done in Istanbul, while other programs will be broadcast from Russia. Bystritskiy noted that their radio broadcasts in Turkish are to be carried out in collaboration with their business partners in Istanbul.

Voice of Russia is on air seven days a week on FM 101.4, which Radio Kuzey also uses. Broadcasts start at 3.00 p.m. and end at 4.10 p.m. The broadcast stream consists of daily commentary on events in Russia and around the world, a Russian language course and news programs.

The Russian station is on air in critical regions such as Washington, New York, London, New Delhi, Baghdad and Kabul. The radio station aims to improve the content of the Turkish broadcasts and will also start playing music.

Voice of Russia, has been preparing programs aimed at foreign countries since Oct. 29, 1929. It was previously called Moscow Radio; however, its name changed to Voice of Russia following the fall dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The government covers all expenses of the station.

November 16, 2011

‘Time in Turkey’ Unveiled to Public in Seven Beyoğlu Locations

Twenty-five world-class photojournalists, 25 alternative visions and one subject -- Turkey.

A project that promises to go down in history as the most comprehensive and unique snapshot of life in modern Turkey to date, Tuesday night saw the official opening of Zaman daily’s vast international photo exhibition “Türkiye’de Zaman” (Time in Turkey) at the Marmara Hotel in Taksim.

A series of stills by 25 internationally acclaimed photojournalists, the project organized by the Zaman daily’s photography desk, led by Photo Editor Selahattin Sevi, offers a unique window into various walks of life in Turkey, from the raw emotion of football mania to the stunning beauty of Anatolian landscapes and the grim daily grind of miners in Zonguldak.

Guest of honor Tuesday night was a man widely renowned as the most respected American news photo editor, John Morris. Ninety-six years old, the photography veteran said: “I have come here to look and listen and to try and learn something from it all. I see these photographs for the truth that lies within them and also as works of art.”

Morris went on to add that amongst the greatest photographers he has ever worked with was Turkish photojournalist Gökşin Sipahioğlu, who passed away in October at the age of 85. He called Sipahioğlu “a close friend,” saying: “Unfortunately I was unable to attend Göksin’s funeral but I received a letter from his dear wife who told me that at the cemetery instead of throwing roses they threw photo prints. In many ways this captures the essence of who Göksin was, he lived for photography. Tonight I want to pay tribute to the best Turkish photo journalist I ever met.”

Veteran Turkish photographer Ara Güler and participating photo journalists Gael Turine of Belgium, France’s Eric Bouvet and Canada-based editorial photographer Chris Morris were also amongst the guests on the opening night.

Addressing the audience, Morris, who took a portfolio of images of Turkish president Abdullah Gül for the project, said: “It is very rare to see such a bold and journalistically ambitious project. You don’t even see publications such as Time or National Geographic stepping up to make such an important body of work. What we have here is a very rare study of a country and a culture and I take my hat off to the Zaman newspaper and Selahattin Sevi for pursuing such a vision.”

A project boasting the works of some of the biggest names in modern day photography, from Steve McCurry to Carolyn Drake and Jane Evelyn Atwood to Reza, the collection has been incorporated seamlessly into the clamor of İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district with works stationed across seven different locations from Tünel Square to the Greek Consulate General’s Sismanoglio Megaro on İstiklal Street and the historic Galata quarter. Contributing photographers as well as other esteemed figures in the photography world, including Marie Sumalla, the photography editor of the Le Monde publication, participated in a series of discussions and conferences at the Beşiktaş campus of Bahçeşehir University on Wednesday.

Groundbreaking Photography Museum to Open in Istanbul

A groundbreaking Turkish photography museum is preparing to open Nov. 20 with three exhibitions in Istanbul’s central Fatih district.

The Istanbul Photography Museum aims to support the art of photography and amateur and professional photographers in Turkey and will serve as a new cultural center to develop the art of photography with collections, exhibitions, publications, photography archives, library, events, projects and educational presentations, according to officials.

Situated on a 1,000-square-meter area that was allocated by Fatih Municipality at the Kadırga Cultural Center, the museum consists of five photography galleries, a photography archive and a library. It will be managed by the Photography Friends’ Association.

November 15, 2011

Paul Anka Thrills Fans in Istanbul Concert

Monday night saw legendary crooner Paul Anka take to the Haliç Congress Center stage in what proved to be an unforgettable night of musical entertainment in Istanbul.

A two-hour concert that is likely to remain etched in the minds of those present forever more, the veteran Canadian singer/songwriter accompanied by a 13-man orchestra performed classic pieces such as “Diana,” “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and “Lonely Boy” for an audience of 3,000 people.

Anka, who shot to stardom in the late 1950s and 1960s as a teen idol, recording his first single at the tender age of 14, went on to write and compose well-known music such as the theme for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” the English lyrics for Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady,” and The Everly Brothers classic “Bye Bye Love.” Anka and Michael Jackson co-wrote the song “I Never Heard,” which was later renamed and released in 2009 under the title “This Is It.”

This great man who has sold a total of over 100 million albums over the past half century is set to bring his European tour to a close in Warsaw on Wednesday evening before heading back to perform in America until February.

Andres Marin to Enchant Istanbul

Fans of flamenco dance and music are in for a treat this week with the great flamenco master Andres Marin set to perform his show, “Op. 24,” at Istanbul’s Mustafa Kemal Center at 8 p.m. on Wednesday evening as part of the multidisciplinary International Pera Fest.

The event, organized by the Istanbul Cervantes Institute, will be part of an international day of flamenco-themed festivities that is being held this year for the first time in celebration of the Spanish traditional dance having been added to the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage -- a directory of intangible heritage elements in need of protection to keep them alive. “Op. 24,” a simple performance with only one guitar providing the musical backdrop, is considered one of Marin’s most original and unique works.

One of the most renowned names in flamenco dance, Marin was born to flamenco dancer parents in Seville in 1939. Having started off at a very young age, Marin debuted professionally in 1992 and worked as a guest artist and choreographer until the formation of his own company in 2002. Marin’s performances are renowned for their contemporary and distinctive style. Tickets for Wednesday night’s performance are available from

November 14, 2011

Sirkeci Station Awaits New Restoration Project

Currently preparing for restoration, the Istanbul Sirkeci Train Station is treasured as an architectural landmark in the city and the door that opens to Europe. Following restoration plans and design, the project will be opened for tender, according to the Anatolia news agency.

“The station is not only the transportation center, it also holds Turkey’s artistic, architectural and cultural heritage together,” the general manager of Turkish State Railways (TCDD), Süleyman Karaman, told the Anatolia news agency, adding that restoration of this buildings means so much more than restoring an ordinary building.

Built in 1890 by German architect August Jasmund, an expert in Oriental architecture, the Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal, also known as Istanbul Terminal, is TCDD’s main station on the European side of Istanbul. Located near the historic Sultanahmet district, international, domestic and regional trains running westward depart from the station, which was inaugurated as the terminus of the Orient Express.

The station opened Nov. 3, 1890 with a lavish ceremony and has served the city for more than 120 years running. Some parts of the roof have been damaged, prompting TCDD to restore the building. Currently, new restoration project proposals are being drawn up for the station. Because of the roof damage, the building will be off-limits temporarily while restoration is being carried out.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Sirkeci Station Awaits New Restoration Project

Egyptian Literature and Culture Enriches Book Fair in Istanbul

Egypt is the country guest of honor at the 30th edition of the Istanbul International Book Fair, which will run between Nov. 12 and 15.

Speaking during the opening of the fair, Egyptian Culture Minister Emad Ebu-Gazi said the ties between Egypt and Turkey should strengthen with the help of culture and arts. “I think Egyptians reading Turkish and watching movies from Turkey and vice versa will bring the two countries closer to each other.”

The book fair is organized by the TÜYAP Fair and Exhibition Organization and is held at the TÜYAP Fair and Convention Center in Büyükçekmece with the participation of more than 600 publishers and NGOs. Twenty-five publishers from Egypt will exhibit thousands of titles in Arabic, Turkish and English. About 500,000 visitors are expected to visit the book fair this year.

Japanese Doctor Miyazaki’s Name Given to Park in Istanbul

A park in Istanbul’s Bahçelievler district has been named for Japanese doctor Atsushi Miyazaki, who was killed when his hotel collapsed in a magnitude 5.6 earthquake last week in Turkey’s eastern province of Van, where he had come with Japan’s Association for Aid and Relief to help victims of an earlier earthquake that occurred on Oct. 23.

Talking to reporters at a ceremony held by Bahçelievler Municipality, Mayor Osman Develioğlu said the municipality decided to name of the park, previously called the “Trafik Eğitim ve Sivil Savunma Parkı” (Traffic Training and Civil Defense Park) for Miyazaki as a sign of respect for the humanitarian doctor’s memory.

Pointing out that many people came to Turkey from foreign countries to help victims of the quake, Develioğlu said that Azerbaijani and Japanese citizens worked especially hard in the earthquake zone, rescuing victims from the rubble. Offering his condolences to Miyazaki’s family, Develioğlu added “Miyazaki was one of [the international rescuers], and was killed in the earthquake zone, for which we are very sorry. I want to thank all the people who rushed to Turkey to help the victims of the quake.”

November 13, 2011

Ottomans and Their Jewelry

Most people by now know that Sotheby’s in Geneva will be auctioning off the Pruth diamonds – a necklace, earrings and broche set that is believed to have been part of a bribe offered by Russia’s Empress Catherine to Sultan Ahmed III to ensure that the Pruth River Peace Treaty was signed between their countries in 1711.

Whether it was 75,000 or 100,000 years ago that man first donned an ornament hardly matters. But following the history of jewelry through the ages is exploring man’s growing sophisticated use of tools and metals, disposable income and differing aesthetic ideas. From the earliest chains of animal teeth that might have had magical significance through to today’s charm bracelets, mankind doesn’t seem to have come too far.

The Ottomans were no different. Jewelry was a portable bank account, an investment against the future, perhaps a dowry. It was the Ottoman court that led the way in jewelry design. There was a permanent staff, under one man, that was responsible for the designs and production of jewelry. In the 16th century there were 80 men employed and they worked within the palace complex in the First Courtyard. They were of Greek or Jewish origin although the Ottoman conquests of places like Tabriz and Cairo in the first part of the 16th century ensured that the most capable jewelers, and other artists for that matter, came to live and work in Istanbul at the court.

The materials with which the artisans worked usually consisted of gold or silver and brightly colored precious or semi-precious stones set in one of these metals. The Pruth set is instantly recognizable as not being of Ottoman workmanship. Registers exist going back to the 15th century that show what was brought to the palace in the way of materials as well as what came as “gifts” or were purchased, inventories of everything in stock, the artist and when an item left the palace and where it went. There are even registers showing the contents of estates that returned to the sultan’s possession following the death of some state officials or possibly a member of the dynasty.

As one would expect, the Ottomans used their jewelry not just for personal adornment but to also express power and virility. Moreover they used jewels in ways that we would hardly consider today such as on thrones, the covers of books, swords, quivers, goblets and lamps. Evens trays were made out of gold and silver and often presented as gifts to foreign rulers. Gold and silver wire was used to embroider clothing and covers for tables, furniture and curtains among other items including carpets.

Miniature paintings don’t do justice to the ways in which jewelry was used by the Ottomans for personal adornment although aigrettes, necklaces and earrings are depicted. A clearer picture can be obtained in paintings by western artists who visited Istanbul over the centuries, assuming that these men actually saw examples of Ottoman jewelry even though they were unable to visit harems themselves.

Gold and silver were the most popular metals, and their consumption was helped on by conquests in the Balkans in the 15th century and later in East Anatolia where mines were located. Although today jewelers only consider diamonds, emeralds, rubies and blue sapphires to be truly precious stones, the Ottomans considered a much wider variety of stones to be precious, including turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian, jade and rock crystal. Color was more important for the Ottomans than it is in modern times and that maybe why they liked colored diamonds or used them to set off a larger, brighter stone like an emerald or ruby. Pearls were especially great favorites.

Today many of the precious jeweled items that the Ottomans valued still exist at Topkapi Palace Museum and some are on display. For the curious, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Culture, Inc. division has just published a book, Istanbul’s 100 Jewels and Artisans. And on Nov. 15, quite a few people will be focused on the diamond set that got away.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Ottomans and Their Jewelry

Atatürk Photos on Display in Istanbul

Istanbul Research Institute will commemorate Republic of Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk with a special photography exhibition Nov. 10 to 24.

After 73 years of his passing, Atatürk is saluted with this exhibition titled “1283 Atatürk in Photographs” from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Collection, which includes 32 photographs. The exhibit will explore the various stages of Atatürk’s life.

Curated by Ekrem Işın, the name of the exhibition is based upon Atatürk’s Harbiye Military School number 1283. Each year Harbiye Military School students come together for the memorial ceremony; as the roster is called out, upon hearing the number 1283 all the students reply in one striking and powerful voice “He’s present!”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Atatürk Photos on Display in Istanbul

Linart Showcases Anatolian Artists

In the exhibition titled “Memory Recordings from Periphery,” Istanbul’s Gallery Linart spotlights young talents from Eskişehir, the Anatolian city in northwestern Turkey, which continues through Dec. 10.

The importance of the exhibition lies in giving an opportunity to young Anatolian artists. Linart Gallery moved out of the periphery and main Turkish art scene, which is centered in Istanbul, by hosting artists from Eskişehir.

Young talents such as Birkancan Özkan, Gökcen M. Kılınç, Mehmet Çevik, Özge Öner and Serkan Küçüközcü are featured in Linart’s exhibit.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Linart Showcases Anatolian Artists

November 11, 2011

Literature Shines in its Newly Opened Museums

Alay Köşkü (Procession Kiosk), which is situated within Topkapı Palace’s walls, is preparing to become the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Museum and Library. The museum will open Nov. 12 with the participation of Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay. It was organized within the framework of a project by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

The Procession Kiosk is a structure next to Gülhane Park in Istanbul and served as a building for the Ottoman Padishah. It is located in close proximity to the Sublime Port.

“In Istanbul’s Procession Kiosk, visitors will have the opportunity to discover all the objects, manuscripts and original translations of Ahmet Hamid Tanpınar’s works,” said Onur Bilge Kula, Culture and Tourism Ministry publishing manager.

The library also will serve as an archive for Ottoman-era magazines that focused on art and aesthetics, and will feature translated books and texts.

There will be works and sculptures of famous writers of Turkey such as Orhan Pamuk, Yahya Kemal, Necip Fazıl Kısakürek, Nedim and Nazım Hikmet.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Literature Shines in its Newly Opened Museums

Thousands of Couples Keep Wedding Halls Busy on 11.11.11

In all of Istanbul, a total of 930 couples chose Friday to exchange their vows. In Istanbul’s Ümraniye and Kadıköy districts, 116 couples flocked to the wedding halls, according to a Cihan news agency report.

Read more on Zaman: Thousands of Couples Keep Wedding Halls Busy on 11.11.11

Historic Turkish Station to See Long Needed Restorations

Turkish officials have confirmed that İstanbul's Sirekci Station, an icon of late Ottoman İstanbul, will soon see the first extensive restoration in the building's 121 year history.

The storied building, once the last stop in the fabled "Orient Express" between İstanbul and Europe and the place of departure for Turkish workers who first left for Germany in 1961, will see extensive repairs that will include the replacement of its century-old roof, a makeover of its weather-worn façade and other needed renovations.

Turkish officials say it will be the first time since the station's 1890 opening that such an extensive restoration has been planned.

A Visit to the 16th-Century Cemberlitas Turkish Bath in Istanbul

Muhammad Lila - Gotta hand it to him, for a man whose loincloth is dangling dangerously close to wardrobe malfunction, this guy sure doesn’t say much.

I’m sprawled out, in a loincloth of my own, sweaty, steamy and slippery, in a room filled with nearly naked men. Some are covered in soapy bubbles. Others, like me, are lying flat, the flesh on our backs baking against the burning hot marble slab in the centre of the room.

Soap? Check. Plastic sandals? Check. Nerves of steel as I’m squeezed and contorted in ways that are painfully pleasurable? Check.

My body is being crinkled, thwapped and thwuddled, alternating between douses of cold and hot water. Mesud, the tall, elderly Turk whose coarse grey hair suggests a lifetime of thwuddling, is kneading away, working through the aches and pains of my shoulders and triceps like they’re pizza dough.

Like a mechanic, he’s thorough, swift and doesn’t say much. So far, I’ve been able to make out three words — syllables really — “good,” “aye” and “oosh.”

Oosh seems about right. It’s the one he uses to indicate he wants me to move or roll over. Oosh and a big fat André the Giant type slap on my back.


It may seem rugged, especially to the uninitiated, but this is how Turkey’s famous hamams, or bath houses, have worked for centuries. The tradition began under the Romans and Greeks. With indoor plumbing still centuries away, they were an important way for cities to conserve water and energy. Later, with the fall of Constantinople, the Ottomans added a spiritual twist. With the Islamic emphasis on physical cleanliness as a prerequisite to spiritual purity, the hamams became beehives of activity. The one I’m visiting, the hamam designed by master Turkish architect Sinan in the 16th century, is considered a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture.

“It’s like you’re visiting another century,” Rusen Baltaci, the manager of the hamam, later explains to me. He calls this a “living museum,” comparing the experience to visiting Istanbul’s famous SophiaEND or MosqueEND.

“People have been using it for centuries. You feel the history.”

My own experience begins with keys to a private dressing room. Unlike Roman times, due to the Islamic sense of modesty, no nudity is allowed. Men and women each have separate bathing areas (though some modern hamams are now mixed), and wear loincloths at all times.

As I change into mine, hanging my clothes on a nearby hook, I realize I’ve just cast away all my earthly possessions. No wallet, no BlackBerry, just me and a tiny loincloth, which, with the smallest misstep, could expose me and my, err, Turkish delight.

The cube-shaped, three storied waiting room gives way to a smaller, tiled washing area, where I jump in for a quick shower. I come out, dripping wet, the loincloth soaked. Mesud then points to a wooden door, beyond which is the main bathing area, a twelve-sided marbled room with wash basins, taps and a giant marble slab in the middle. Small holes in the dome on the roof allow steam to escape.

The air is thick and sticky. I make a beeline for one of the basins, splashing myself with hot water to adjust to the temperature. Mesud then motions to the marble slab.


I take it to mean he wants me to lie down, so I do, becoming a human shish kebab against the heated platform. At that instant, I feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead. My stress melts away, the burning sensation putting my muscles instantly at ease. Minutes later, Mesud returns, his hand covered in some kind of scrubbing glove, somewhere between pumice rock and the steel wool you use to clean the kitchen sink.

He starts on my legs and works his way up, scraping away a tiny layer of dead skin in the process. Then comes the soap. Bubbly, bubbly soap, spread all over my body, followed by a rinse and one of the most intense massages I’ve ever had.

As I lie there, it’s easy to see why successive generations of conquerors have all tried to preserve the baths. It’s the ultimate man cave. No big screen TVs or cheerleaders. Just a room full of men, muscles, steam and a whole lot of sweat. And just when I’m ready to head back out into the real world . . .


The bliss continues.

Istanbul TÜYAP Book Fair Kicks-off

The Arab Republic of Egypt will be the country guest of honor in the 30th session of the Istanbul International Book Fair, which will run Nov. 12 to Nov. 15

The book fair is organized by TÜYAP Fair and Exhibition Organization and will be held at the TÜYAP Fair and Convention Center in Büyükçekmece with the participation of more than 600 publishers and NGOs. Twenty-five publishers from Egypt will exhibit thousands of titles in Arabic, Turkish and English. About 500,000 visitors are expected to visit the book fair this year.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul TÜYAP Book Fair Kicks-off

November 10, 2011

Winter is Coming!

Don't Forget to Feed the Birds :)

Idil Biret and Tekfen Philharmonic to Pay Musical Tribute to Liszt

Internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist İdil Biret and the multi-national Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra are preparing for an onstage tribute in Istanbul to one of the piano’s timeless geniuses, Franz Liszt, on his bicentennial.

The concert, part of the Tekfen Philharmonic’s annual autumn concerts, is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Pera Fest Marks 10 Years of International Art Celebrations

The 10th edition of the International Pera Fest, one of the top multidisciplinary art events on the Istanbul cultural agenda, is set to kick off on Monday, coinciding with the 97th anniversary of Turkish cinema, in what promises to be an action-packed two weeks for İstanbul art revelers.

The event, organized by the Association of Intercultural Communication and Interdisciplinary Art and Pi Production, has the theme “Çok Kültürlülük” (Multiculturalism) this year and is set to take place across 20 city venues, including the Istanbul Modern, the Pera Museum, the French Cultural Center and the Ghetto, Nardis and Haymatlos clubs.

With a diverse program boasting 46 different events ranging from concerts to dance performances and from conferences and panel discussions to theater performances, the festival is set to run through Nov. 30.

November 09, 2011

Istanbul Adventures VI: Call to Prayer

Kat Russel - It was 5:32am, on my first morning in Istanbul, when I was awakened by the loud crackle of a speaker. My hotel room was still shrouded in nighttime darkness. I rolled over, assuming what I had heard must have been the rickety air-conditioner, and invited sleep to return.

Moments later the speaker crackled again, this time followed by a voice. It started as a low wail, which escaped through the speaker in a short burst. Almost immediately it started again, this time longer, building in volume and momentum as it climbed higher and higher up the scale of notes until it reached a high pitched cry.

I sat up in my bed confused, startled, and more confused as the voice continued to wail its slow, drawn out song, on a roller coaster of notes and pitches, which lasted for approximately six or seven minutes before it ended with another crackle of the speaker, leaving me sitting in quiet again.

Unbeknownst to me, in the wee hours of that morning, I was to become extremely familiar with that “song” as I would hear it five times a day for the next two months and what started as a rude interruption to my sleep would become one of the characteristics of Istanbul that I loved the most.

Turkey is home to a predominantly Muslim population – approximately 99 percent – and Istanbul is Turkey’s largest and most populated city – home to more than 13.2 million people.

Much like the rest of Turkey, Istanbul’s population is predominantly Muslim. There are approximately 3,000 active mosques throughout the city, their minarets piercing the skyline as they rise from every neighborhood and district. I later learned the “song” I had heard my first morning was actually a Call to Prayer, which is sung in each mosque and broadcast from speakers mounted on to their minarets.

Five times a day this call rings out from the minarets of each mosque throughout the city, calling Muslims to the mosque for prayer. Each call to prayer is unique to the mosque and to the muezzin who sings it. The verses being sung say: God is great. I bear witness that there is no God except the one God. I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger. Come to Prayer. God is Great. There is no God except the one God.

From where I lived in Besiktas, I could hear the calls of three different mosques. At first, it seemed strange, but during my time in Istanbul, I came to look forward to hearing them ring out across the city. Each call became a moment for me to pause, place my hand over my heart, and take a moment to relish in the beauty of its simple display of devotion.

Coming to Istanbul from a country where the opinions of Islam are often negative and grossly misinformed, I must admit that I was wary at first. All I had ever heard of Islam was negativity, stereotyping and violence. What I found is Istanbul was nothing like what I expected.

Istanbul opened my eyes to a world I had never known and had, admittedly misjudged. My heart was opened and my perception was changed. The calls to prayer markedly became reminders for me of how blessed I was to be in Istanbul and privileged I was to be able to have the experiences I was having while I was there.

Read more on Daily Sundial: Istanbul Adventures VI: Call to Prayer

Istanbul Prepares to Host Duke Ellington Orchestra

The Duke Ellington Orchestra, which was founded by one of the greatest jazz musicians of the past 50 years, Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington, will take the Istanbul stage for two concerts on Nov. 18 and 19.

The orchestra was led by the American Ellington, who was known as a very productive composer, pianist and orchestra conductor, until his death in 1974. His son, Mercer Ellington, who had already been handling all the administrative aspects of his father’s business for several decades, led the band until his own death in 1996. In the same year, the original band dissolved, but Paul Ellington, Mercer’s youngest son, has kept the Duke Ellington Orchestra going since his father’s death.

Ellington is one of the most influential figures in jazz and is widely considered to be one of the 21st century’s best known African-American personalities. As both a composer and a band leader, Ellington’s reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackaging of his signature music often becoming best-sellers.

He is best remembered for the over 3,000 songs that he composed during his lifetime. His best-known titles include “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mood Indigo,” “Solitude,” “In a Mellotone” and “Satin Doll.”

Ellington was most creative while he was on the road. It was during this time when he wrote his most famous piece, “Mood Indigo” which brought him worldwide fame.

Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. He was later awarded several other prizes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each country.

The artist influenced millions of people around the world, giving American music its own sound for the first time. In his 50-year career, he played over 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East as well as Asia.

November 08, 2011

Turkish SALT, London’s Tate Modern Collaborate

London’s Tate Modern Museum, which organizes a program supporting exhibition and curatorial sharing with institutions from the Middle East, Asia-Pacific countries, South Africa and Eastern Europe, has initiated a new series of exhibitions as part of its program. The museum is collaborating with SALT, a non-profit cultural institution in Istanbul, for the third exhibition of the series organized this month.

The exhibition “I decided not to save the world,” curated by Duygu Demir from the SALT Research and Programs team and Tate Modern Assistant Curator Kyla McDonald, opened on Nov. 4 at the Tate Modern Level 2.

Curious acts and apparently small gestures unite the works in the exhibition, featuring the work of four artists, exploring how they address social concerns through a light-hearted and playful approach.

Artists Mounira Al Solh, Yto Barrada, Mircea Cantor and the collective Slavs and Tatars devise playful interventions into their everyday environment, combining social commentary and investigation with humor or irony to throw off our habits of thinking. Emerging from the specific contexts in which they are working, the light-hearted approach of these works belies the artists’ acute socio-political insights.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Turkish SALT, London’s Tate Modern Collaborate

Hürrem Sultan Keeps Bath Customs Alive

The centuries-old Hagia Sophia Hürrem Sultan Bath in the heart of Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood is again transmitting the cultural practices of the past following a multi-million-dollar renovation.

The hamam, which was rented by Haseki Tourism from the Foundations General Directorate under a build-operate-transfer model for 15 years, was restored in line with its original form at a cost of $20 million. It now offers bridal, groom, circumcision and other packages, keeping alive Turkey’s famous hamam culture. As part of the bridal bath option, the hamam offers Turkish fasıl music played with traditional instruments such as the oud, along with extras like fruit, sherbet, Turkish delight, meals with olive oil and desserts.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Hagia Sophia Hürrem Sultan Bath Operation Manager Hikmet Güvenli Bayındır said Haseki Tourism rented the hamam in 2007 and added that the renovation process took three-and-a-half years.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Hürrem Sultan Keeps Bath Customs Alive

"Skyfall" The Official Title of the 23rd James Bond Pic Would Lense in Istanbul

Sam Mendes and the key cast of "Skyfall," the official title of the 23rd James Bond pic, descended upon London's Corinthia Hotel on Thursday for a press conference to launch the project.

Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench joined longtime Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson along with new Bond girls Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris in a packed press room, where journos hoped to learn some details of the anticipated pic, skedded for release in Blighty on Oct. 26, 2012.

But things were neither shaken nor stirred in the room as, after Broccoli and Wilson confirmed the title, very little about the plot was revealed.

"This is an odd press conference," said Mendes, "because I can't give much away."

But he assured journos that the film would contain "a lot of action" and would lense in London, China, Istanbul and Scotland.

When asked about what kind of training the thesps had to do to prep for the action-packed pic, Bardem quipped, "I had to learn a lot of English vowels."

"I've got nothing as dangerous as that," said Craig.

Read more on Variety: "Skyfall" The Official Title of the 23rd James Bond Pic Would Lense in Istanbul

Hollywood Actor Affleck Filming in Sultanahmet

World-renowned Hollywood actor Ben Affleck is continuing to film his latest movie, “Argo,” which he directs and headlines, in Istanbul.

Affleck, who previously turned the streets of Istanbul’s Etiler district into Iran for the film, was in Eminönü-Sultanahmet area on Nov. 4. During the filming in Sirkeci and Karaköy, there were tight measures to prevent press members from taking photos.

Two streets in Karaköy were closed to traffic and pedestrians for the filming. Affleck was seen on the set showing artists how to use their weapons. He also ordered cake, hamburgers, cheese sandwiches, dried apricots, walnuts and almonds for the crew.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Hollywood Actor Affleck Filming in Sultanahmet

November 07, 2011

Istanbul Reimagined

“Design is not about objects anymore; it’s more pervasive,” says Vasif Kortun, a director of Istanbul’s new arts center Salt (Istiklal Caddesi 136; “Turkey is picking it up belatedly.” And quickly. Since the opening of Adnan Kazmaoglu’s austerely geometric Yesil Vadi Mosque in Istanbul last year, a design and architecture movement is sweeping through the city. Salt’s Beyoglu building, a columned space by the local architect Han Tumertekin on the boulevard Istiklal, features the work of a different Turkish designer in each room — there’s a cinema by Hakan Demirel, a bookstore by Omer Unal and a cafe by Ali Selcuk and the chef Murat Bozok. Regular symposiums cover everything from urban planning to electronic music, and later this fall a second outpost will open nearby in Galata.

There are plenty of fresh faces at the retail level, too: two local powerhouses, Autoban ( and Derin (, recently opened showrooms in Akaretler, and at Haaz (, in Nisantasi, homegrown designs mingle with pieces by international names like Tom Dixon and Edra.

A taste for the contemporary has also seeped into the city’s hotels, most notably at the W (, which has furnishings by Derin, and in the House Hotel chainlet (, whose latest property on the Bosporus mixes pre-Republic architecture with Autoban’s midcentury-esque furnishings. Perhaps the surest sign of Turkey’s creatively fertile times is the introduction of its first design biennial next year in Istanbul. “As a developing country, the need for design in every area is obvious,” says the director Ozlem Yalim Ozkaraoglu. “Good design upgrades the quality of life.”

Read more on The New York Times: Istanbul Reimagined

November 05, 2011

Istanbul Jewelry Show Notes Increase in Overseas Attendance

The 33rd Istanbul Jewelry Show, which was held in October, reported a 13 percent increase in overseas visitors at 3,217, representing 84 countries at the event. Turkey-based visitors totaled 7,377, the largest group, followed by nearly 1,000 attendees from Iran and 285 from Russia. The October Istanbul Jewelry Show hosted 320 exhibitors and it was organized by UBM Rotaforte.

Jimé Essink, the president of UBM Asia, said, ''The response to this year’s show has been tremendous, especially from the overseas visitors. Istanbul Jewellery Show has again confirmed its position as the leading jewelry fair in the European and Middle East regions.''

Attendee Emil Güzeliş, the president of Zen Diamond in Turkey, stated that the fair was well organized. "We received many orders. We met new customers, especially from the Middle East and Europe.''

Faisal Ali, a partner with the Platinum Jewelry Company in Kuwait, added, ''We have visited this fair many times. This year’s show was well organized and we placed orders. We are very pleased with our hotel and the shuttle bus arrangement, which were very helpful for our visit to the Istanbul Jewelry Show October.”

The 34th edition of the Istanbul Jewelry Show will be held March 22 through March 25, 2012 at the CNR Expo Center in Istanbul.

Last Nine Days for Art Lovers to See 12th Istanbul Biennial

As the curtains prepare to fall on the 12th Istanbul Biennial, the event’s organizer, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), has announced that the event, which is set to draw to a close on Nov. 13, will be open for viewing throughout the duration of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

The organization also revealed that Biennial ticket prices for pensioners, teachers, students and members of the International Association of Plastic Arts are now available at the reduced price of TL 8.

A vast collection composed of five group exhibitions, over 50 solo presentations and encompassing a dizzying total of more than 500 works, the 12th Istanbul Biennial, which opened on Sept. 14, is inspired by the works of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the Cuban American artist who died of AIDS in 1996 at the age of 42.

WTA Championships at Istanbul: A Success

"Brilliant" was frequently the term used by the commentators on Eurosport, Sam Smith and Chris Bradley, to describe the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul and the atmosphere created in it by the spectators during the year-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. I can comfortably concur with these gentlemen. The tournament is not yet over at the time of writing this article; Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka have yet to play the final match. However, there is no need to wait for the final match to confirm that from an organizational point of view, the tournament has been declared by all parties concerned as a complete success.

The Turkish Tennis Federation (TTF) and the organizers knew the tall order they would face when they won the bid to host the WTA Championships three years in a row. The problem was not that Istanbul was not used to hosting this type of event. In fact, the same arena hosted the 2010 FIBA World Championships, won by the American team; in 2005, UEFA Champions League final match took place here between AC Milan and Liverpool; Istanbul also hosts a yearly Formula 1 grand Prix event, and a WTA regular tour event. Furthermore, Istanbul is a city with high ambitions: it's bidding to host the 2020 Olympics.

The challenges were of a different nature. How to create a more successful WTA Championships than the previous ones? How to overcome the nation-wide sadness created by the very recent earthquake in the city of Van that killed hundreds of people? How to bring tennis to the front of the sports pages where soccer usually reigns? How to sell tickets in the absence of the Williams sisters? More importantly, how to make this event a success in country where tennis ranks in popularity about where water polo ranks in the U.S.? When I talked yesterday to Erhan Oral, ex-Davis Cup player and ex-Fed Cup coach for Turkey, he was astonished that in Turkey where the term "tennis culture" has not yet "found its true meaning," the event was already sold-out for the weekend matches and that it was averaging over 10,000 spectators per day.

Read more on Sports-Central: WTA Championships at Istanbul: A Success

Columbia University Opens Global Center in Istanbul

New York City-based Columbia University has opened its sixth international Global Center in Istanbul for encouraging academic partnerships and assisting in student and alumni affairs with Turkey.

“We are committed to providing new opportunities to strengthen our engagement with scholars, ideas and challenges across the globe,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger at the opening ceremony on Nov. 1.

“Columbia’s intellectual history and engagement in Turkey has deep roots and our center here will allow us to build on this foundation in new and innovative ways that enhance our knowledge and contribute to society.”

The center will function as a network, facilitating long-distance collaborative programs and linkages between non-Columbia scholars, institutions, schools and academic departments back in New York.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Columbia University Opens Global Center in Istanbul

November 02, 2011

Istanbul to Welcome First Design Biennial

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) is planning to organize the first Istanbul Design Biennial next year with the aim of highlighting the importance of design in production, economics, cultural interaction and quality of life.

The biennial, whose events will be organized around a certain theme, aims to emphasize the importance of the design concept in business life and will include national and international design exhibitions, thematic presentations, workshops, seminars and other specific projects.

Imperfection is the theme of the first Istanbul Design Biennial. Istanbul is particularly conducive to exploring imperfection because, while far from perfect, is one of the most exhilarating and dynamic centers in the world. The city has infinite layers that are charged with the vitality that comes from engaging with rapid urban, social and cultural change.

Istanbul’s quality is that it gains so much from the imperfect, the inexact and the provisional, according to organizers. As a theme, imperfection both celebrates Istanbul’s distinctive creative qualities and encapsulates a wider discussion about the nature of design in the contemporary world. The theme is also set to tell the world something about Istanbul and offer the world a sharp insight into the nature of contemporary design.

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: Istanbul to Welcome First Design Biennial