Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Contemporary Turkish Artists

Turkish contemporary art has gained more notices in the last few decades as Istanbul began a biennial art exhibition, showcasing local artists as well as featuring some of the top names in international contemporary art. Here are some current Turkish artists to keep an eye on!
Serkan Özkaya

Portait of the artist in his gallery

"I sometimes think that ideas are like butterflies, as Feyerabend calls them. They circle around in the air and anyone with a seeing eye can see them and it’s just a matter of choice to decide to take the responsibility to execute and go for them. And then the artist is mostly an exhibitionist who wants to share or actually show them to others." - Serkan Özkaya

Baker's Apprentice (2006)

A Sudden Gust of Wind
Halil Altındere

portrait of the artists

My Mother Likes Pop Art Because Pop Art is Colorful (1998)
I had a hard time finding much out about this artists besides his work as a curator.  I know he often explores particular subcultures and also manipulates official Turkish insignia like the bank note below. Much of what is written related to him is in Turkish....

Super Turk (2002)
Cengiz Tekin
Natürmort (Still Life), 2007

"Unsurprisingly, this spirit and humor spills into Tekin’s art, where seemingly typical, unremarkable people, locations, and situations are staged and tweaked by the artist to reveal the underlying violence, trauma, instability, and uncertainty that remains the reality for the Kurds of southeastern Turkey. Often they capture moments just before or after a violent act has taken place, but it is never clear what exactly happened (or is about to happen), why the act took place, or the identity of the victim or perpetrator. For example, in Tekin’s 2007 photograph, Natürmort (Still Life), a man lies splayed in a field of wheat, his face obscured by the stalks. Dressed in blue, his attire mirrors the fiery sky that looms above the field, making him seem like a piece of the heavens dropped to the earth. The gun in his limp hand implies that a shoot-out or stand-off of some kind has just transpired–or could it be a suicide? Is the angle of the gun, still cocked and pointed up, a coincidence of the way he fell? Or is he still alive and playing dead in order to ambush his foe, or escape further fighting?" - http://blog.art21.org/2011/07/12/turkish-and-other-delights-cengiz-tekin/

Potlatch (2009)

"Similarly in the 2009 series of three photographs, Potlatch, a flow of bank notes streams from an unidentified man’s hands into the sky (again, that fiercely blue sky of southern Turkey!), into (or out of?) the gleeful hands of a group of young boys holding bags of toys, and the residential area that hugs the exterior of the ancient city walls of Diyarbakır, where many families, displaced by the fighting in the countryside during the 1980s and 1990s, resettled. In the manner of Tekin’s other works, these photographs present more questions than answers: from whose hands are these funds flowing? To what purposes is it being used? Are the children of Diyarbakir benefiting from this influx of funds in a way that is lasting and meaningful, or is it just providing fleeting distraction? Is it really going to those who are most in need, who suffered the most from the violence, or is it just passing them by?" - http://blog.art21.org/2011/07/12/turkish-and-other-delights-cengiz-tekin/

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turkey: Did you know........?

These interesting facts are pulled from Turkey's official tourism website: www.goturkey.com

The only city in the world located on two continents is Istanbul, which has been the capital of three great empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman for more than 2,000 years.

The world’s oldest known settlement is in Catalhoyuk in central Anatolia, Turkey, and dates back to 6,500 BC

The word "turquoise" derives from the French word for Turkish (Turquois), the beautiful colour of waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.

St Nicolas – the original Santa Claus – was born in Patara in Turkey and has a church dedicated to him in Demre. 

Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words “Veni. Vedi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) in Turkey when he defeated Pontus, a formidable Kingdom in the Black Sea Region of Turkey

Aesop – famous for his fables and parables – was born in Anatolia.

Homer (Homeros) was born in Izmir on the west coast of Turkey and he depicted Troy, which is north of Izmir, in his Epic the Iliad

Part of Turkey’s south western shore was a wedding gift from Mark Antony to Cleopatra.   

Many Biblical scholars believe that after the withdrawal of the waters, Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ağrı (Ararat) in eastern Anatolia. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Turkish Psych

Who would've guessed Turkey had a big Psychadelic scene in the 60s/70s?

Okay Temiz - Denizalti Ruzgarlan Yesilcam

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Troy's illustrious history

One of the reasons I chose to profile Turkey in my blog is because I'm a bit of a history junkie, and I knew I'd have a lot of topics to pick from (early neolithic paintings at Catal Hoyuk, Mt. Ararat - where many Biblical scholars believe Noah's ark rested, a stopover for Alexander the Great during his military exploits, endpoint of the Orient Express....the list goes on and on), however I felt there was no way I could not talk about factual and legendary city of Troy.  Best known as the setting of the Trojan War as described in Homer's Iliad,  Troy has become a small tourist city today, that unfortunately is often not highly recommended in tour books as it has not been as well preserved as some of its neighboring cities.

ruins of Troy

Troy has quite a history though - literally the stuff of legends. The city was destroyed and rebuilt nine times, and there are remnants from each of the nine layers still left today. The layer scholars most associate with the Troy of Homer's Iliad is likely the seventh layer, of which a portion of the legendary walls are still intact.  Greek historians have difficulty placing the exact date of the Trojan War, which gave Troy such legendary status, debating whether it took place in the 12th, 13th or 14th centuries BCE.  It is interesting to note that for many years, up until the mid 1800s, it was generally agreed that the Trojan War had never happened, nor had Troy existed. Only in the 1860s and 1870s were archological remains of the area excavated and credence given to the war which had been merely legend according to many scholars up until then. Today, many scholars agree that the Trojan War is based on a Greek expedition against the city of Illium, although few if any would argue that Homer painted an accurate view of the battle in his poems.

Edward Burne-Jones' The Feast of Peleus

According to Homer, the Trojan War has its roots in the marriage of Peleus, son of the King of the island of Aegina, and Thetis, a sea-goddess. Eris, the goddess of discord, was angry that she was not invited, and crashed their wedding, throwing a golden apple onto the table. Eris then stated that the apple belonged to whoever was fairest, knowing this would start a heated debate amongst the gods and mortals present at the wedding, and taking the focus from the bride and groom. Hera (wife of Zeus), Athena (goddess of wisdom and war) and Aphrodite (goddess of love and beauty) all reached for the apple, thinking themselves the fairest. Zeus proclaimed that Paris, the beautiful prince of Troy, would act as judge.

William Blake's Judgement of Paris

The goddesses felt they could sway Paris by offering him gifts - Hera promised power, Athena promised wealth, and Aphrodite promised to give him the most beautiful woman in the world.....an offer Paris could not refuse.  Aphrodite promised him that Helen, the wife of the King of Sparta - Menelaus, would be his wife, and Paris set off to Sparta, where he abducted Helen, stole much of Menelaus' wealth, and then brought Helen back to Troy and married her.

Fra Angelico's Abduction of Helen
Obviously, this did not sit well with Menelaus, who gathered armies, assembled a fleet, and set off to attack Troy. The first attempt to reach Troy didn't go so well, but after returning to Greece and regrouping, Meneleus set sail again, along with Odysseus, and set off again to wage war. The war was long and arduous, with the Greeks first having to defeat neighboring kingdoms which were supplying Troy, however even after securing the neighboring areas, the Greeks faced the inpenetrable walls of Troy.

Tiepolo's The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy

Clever Odysseus (possibly with aid from Athena) ordered that a large, hollow wooden horse be built, with space inside to hide many soldiers. I'm sure you know the story from here - Greek soldiers loaded into the horse, the rest of the Greek fleet sailed away to give the impression of retreating, and the Trojans came out to admire the huge creation. The Trojans assumed the horse was a token of their victory, brought it into the city and began to celebrate. Once most of the city was asleep (or in a drunken stupor), the Greek warriors sprang from the horse and slaughtered the Trojans.

After, the story of a Trojan prince who survived (Aeneas) was written by Virgil in Aenid. Odysseus' return to Greece is chronicled in Homer's Odyssey.  The journey home was said to be difficult and arduous. And as for Helen? Meneleus forgave her, despite being determined to kill her for her unfaithfulness, because he was so overcome again by her beauty:)