Thursday, September 24, 2009

that exhausted question

I met up with my friend Yelda at lovely Mangerie in Bebek for lunch, before heading off to the Istanbul Bienali. The 11th International Istanbul Biennial is a biannual art exhibition held in Istanbul that showcases the work of 70 artists from 40 different countries. The artwork is spread over 6000 square metres at three different locations. We visited one of the locations, held in the warehouse next to Istanbul Modern, our city's exquisite modern art museum— definitely worth a visit if ever in town.

I must say that what I saw today has got me asking that exhausted question: what is art? What makes someone pick one piece over another to display on a wall or pedestal, give it a white label with black type, and deem it worth looking at? At the moment, I am at a loss. That is a piece of bread with the centre cut out on that pedestal above. Rather than get into a lengthy critique of what I saw today, I thought I'd share a few photos I took of work I enjoyed.

I thought the mosque seen through the warehouse windows was quite a sight. It kind of looks like a video installation a bit, doesn't it?

I've gotten into the habit lately of celebrating a tiny victory every day, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Today's small victory was that I was able to ask of my minibus driver with relative fluency, "müsait bir yerde inebilir miyim?"— may I get off at a convenient place? This is preferable to the "inecek var" that Turkish phrase books push on you. Inecek var (ee-neh-jek var) roughly translates to "there is getting off," not something that makes much sense, even though it is understood by drivers that you want to get off. I had even asked my Turkish teacher this summer what I should say, and she told me that inecek var was fine— but I don't want fine, I want to know what that jumble of words coming out of my fellow passengers' mouths is; I have never once heard a Turk say inecek var. If you are a tourist, feel free to use it— you will be understood, and it's a lot easier than belting out müsait bir yerde inebilir miyim?
I've been practising the phrase all evening.


redrock said...

That photo of the mosque thru the window is terrific! I took a few like that thru the second story exterior windows of Aya Sofya thanks to the great coaching of my tour guide! Keep the stories and photos and sketches coming...I love to look in here as often as I can just to get juiced on your work.

Esin said...

hello! i've been enjoying your blog for a while. thought i would contribute a little today. :)

you can combine both sayings which i think is more suitable for the dolmus/minibus jargon (the question form is just too polite for the setting i feel):

musait yerde inecek var.

the exact translation of that would be: there is someone that's going to get off at a convenient/available spot.

and actually 'inecek var' means there is someone that's gonna get off. it is just an impersonal way of saying that you want to get off.

keep enjoying the city. i wish i was there sometimes. :)

Julia Kay said...

Thank you for this wonderful blog. I was in Istanbul, while travelling for a coupleof momths Turkey, in the 80s. I loved Turkey and I thought Istanbul was a wonderful city; I met many warm and interesting Turks there. I think often of going back and wonder whether I would have the same feeling for it or too much would have changed. In any event, I enjoy hearing your stories and layering your images on top of the ones in my memory.

Oh and speaking of language, I once went into a store and instead of asking "Is there bread" ('ekmek var ?' as I recall), I asked 'Erkek var?' - are there men?

Unknown said...

harikasın..I like your works!

szaza said...

Charlie: Thank you so much! I'm happy to hear that you had fun in Istanbul— I've enjoyed your sketches! So glad to you like my work :)

Esin: Thank you— I'm so happy you enjoy the blog. Thank you ever so much for your language tip— I tried out musait yerde inecek var, which was much, much easier and worked perfectly! I truly appreciate it :)

Julia: Thank you— it really is a marvellous city, unlike any I have ever been to. I love your erkek/ekmek story! There are loads of words that are so close to one another— I've definitely had some slip-ups that were a little blush-inducing!

Istanbul Diary: Çok teşekkürler!