August 31, 2012

Dreaming in Ottoman: Istanbul at a Crossroads

When we think of Istanbul, we think of two things that are, in theory, glaringly incompatible: There is the rejuvenated metropolis of art festivals and sceney galleries, the world of wealthy art patrons and of Vakko itself, which helps sponsor the yearly Istancool arts and culture festival—attended this May by the likes of filmmakers Zoe Cassavetes, Chiara Clemente and Mark Romanek—and then there is the growing Islamization incarnated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with its purported reactionary desire to turn away from the West and its evil ways and back toward the Middle East, which Turkey dominated for centuries. Do these two disturbingly opposing tendencies, I ask Gülgün, collide in contemporary Istanbul?

"Yes and no. It's not quite as simple as that. Istanbul is a curious city, a bit of a playground, a paradise for foreigners like yourself. You can pick and choose what you want. It's a string of villages, and you can live in whatever village you like. Some villages are religiously conservative; others are wild. That is what I love about this city. You have the choice."

Read more on The Wall Street Journal: Dreaming in Ottoman: Istanbul at a Crossroads


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