• Art / Design / Craft,  Places

    Call to Şakirin

    Many things have been done in the name of God, some good, some bad. I’d definitely say the Şakirin Mosque falls into the former category. This place of worship is notable for its extremely contemporary design sensibility and, perhaps more important, the fact that its interior was designed by Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu — a woman.

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Turkey’s hardest working actor?

    Yigit Ozsener is a busy man. I’ve been wanting to talk to him about his trade for some time, but his schedule is tight. The day before we meet, he’s up at 5am to get to a Sapanca location shoot which doesn’t allow him home before midnight, in order to shoot an 8-page scene in the blazing heat, and looks significantly darker than two days before when we talked about doing an interview. He’s down to the final two episodes of his latest series, the acclaimed 25-episode  Son (Final), before a much-needed hiatus. “I’ve worked non-stop for three years. No vacations,” he says smiling, and without the faintest whiff of complaint on the ferry to Kadiköy. The actor loves what he does, but didn’t always know he wanted to be a thespian. Originally from Izmir, on Turkey’s mellow Aegean coast, he did his undergrad in communications and electrical engineering and progressed…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit,  Places

    Salt Galata

    Yesterday I decided I wanted to experience the audio exhibit Translated By, a series of 13 performed excerpts from books, and one original piece, by various writers about different cities and landscapes, some imagined, an exhibit sponsored by the British Council. For the most part, I’m glad I did, although I must admit I skipped over a few whose writing or narration style grated after a couple of minutes. As you tour about Salt Galata, you don your headphones and tune into a numbered channel, one for Istanbul, Tokyo, Baku, the Metaverse—you get the idea—and listen to a passage written about each of these places. I’d recommend it if you have some time. However, when I wasn’t absorbed in these orally rendered landscapes I found myself wondering about the physical space I was in. Ever feel that you really want to like a place but instead leave uncertain what to think? That’s how…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  Books & Lit

    Reading List: That Magazine #6

    I’m pleased to announce that another issue of THAT MAGAZINE is hot off the press. Okay, perhaps I’m more than pleased, perhaps I’m a little self-satisfied because my Marmaray photography also landed the cover, and it’s always a nice ego boost to see your work in print. In addition to that there are essays, more of Zeynep Aksoy’s compelling India Emails, some fantastic art spreads and writing from the late Refik Halid Karay (1888-1965) eloquently translated from Turkish by Alexander Dawe. So if you’re here in Istanbul, keep your eyes open. THAT will be appearing again in your favorite swanky little watering holes and eateries.  

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Bosporus Binoculars

    Usually the amount of junk that people put between me and a great view irritates me. But there’s something kind of quirky cool about these fixed binoculars outside Yeniköy Spor Klubu that entertains me. They possess an appealing retro robotic ugliness like something you might see in a Fritz Lang movie, or the Jetsons. There are moments when I almost expect them to spring into action and start talking.

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Dear Advertisers

    Don’t know about you, but the sight of trees makes me happy. Beautiful, green, oxygen-producing trees. Perhaps some of you see them as raw materials, a good backdrop, or simply in the way? Once upon a time I worked full time in the advertising industry as a creative. I know and believe that good ads can make a difference. Not just for profit-motivated brands, either. Many cultural and charitable organizations can and do benefit from insightfully strategized, beautifully executed campaigns. I’m not an idealist. I live in the real world (mostly) and understand that commercial messages also make good editorial and entertainment possible. There is nothing inherently evil about advertising, it just needs to be placed in the right context. Otherwise it goes wrong for all parties involved. Now I must admit that I never worked in media placement, but I do know enough about the discipline to understand that…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Profile: Azize Tan, Istanbul Film Festival Director

    Whenever I get to see Azize Tan, I get inspired. It’s not simply that she has one of the most interesting jobs I can imagine, or that she can talk for hours about one of my favorite subjects, cinema — it’s her infectious enthusiasm for her work. This year is her sixth as director, and her 20th working with the Istanbul Film Festival which just closed its 31st year. Something of a marathon event, it ran from March 31-April 15, with Ms. Tan dealing with everything from sponsorships to going to hospital with fainting jury members, all while attending as many screenings as possible. Azize graciously took some time out last week to have a coffee with me and tell me about the life and trials of a festival director, which is not just the fun of watching films, but a struggle, for resources, venues and the recognition that film…

  • Art / Design / Craft

    Analog Beauty

    What is it about the analog world that now seems so beautiful? Is it simply nostalgia? Or are these great work machines and tools truly beautiful? There’s certainly something to be said for space-saving in this increasingly cramped world. But I can’t help but wonder if the fact that everything is now so tiny, so compact, so microscopic that we aren’t in danger of feeling a great distance from the workings of our world and maybe the ability to change them for the better at times. And there are other things we’ve lost, and they’re not simply aesthetic — for instance, the ability to pop up the hood of our car, and take a peak and correct a slight imbalance or funny whir. My grandfather kept himself busy well into his 90s tinkering with and restoring old VW Beetles and it often seems to me that he was the better for…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    City Sketcher

     © Samantha Zaza One of the things I wanted to do when I started this site was to provide sketches of city life. Before launching I worked furiously for a couple of hours every day, honing my skills. But I’m not there yet, and will continue to rely on my photographic skills in order to present the visual component of most of my stories for the time being. © Samantha Zaza That’s why I want to take the time to introduce you to a terrific artist we have working away right here in Istanbul already providing incredible glimpses into the beauty and mystery of this city and others. You may have noticed her site Harika (meaning wonderful, fantastic, incredible … in Turkish) listed on the blog roll to your right before today, but I really hope you’ll visit it — that’s why I’ve stopped myself at just three of her sketches. The thing I…

  • Art / Design / Craft,  People

    Istanbul’s new chanteuse

    A LUMINOUS NEW TALENT SINGING HER HEART OUT. Istanbul is a tough mistress. Even if she loves you, she doesn’t make life easy. Whether you’re Turkish or yabanci (foreigner) she doesn’t really mind. I often think of Istanbul as a wonderful muse with a mean right hook. But if you continue to love her, and treat her like the empress she is, she might just grant you her favor. Thanks to plenty of love the Empress is becoming an international city again, as she was in Ottoman times. She’s attracting talent from within and from without. That’s why last night I was fantastically pleased to see my friend Fleur and her group Odylle take the stage at Ghetto to celebrate the release of their debut album, Istanbul Bana Ne Yaptin? (what did you do to me?). DON’T LOOK BACK. YOU’VE JUST STARTED. Fleur O. Van Wijck came to Istanbul to do her masters…