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Istanbul at the crossroad (4)

(People's Daily Online)

13:55, March 21, 2012

Old and new Istanbul (Andre Vltchek/ People's Daily Online)

He thinks awhile sipping strong Turkish tea – cay – then continues: “Istanbul is tremendous trading center and it is big cultural center. In the West they say: ‘Istanbul is community consisting of several cultures; it is the bridge. Recently they even declared it the Cultural Capital of Europe for one year. But when they say ‘culture’, they mean ‘imperialist culture’. Turkey has other great centers of culture: Izmit, Izmir, Trabzon… The West loves Istanbul because it is in many Ways the center of Turkish capitalism, a place where Western ideas are accepted. And when they say ‘the bridge?’ Is it really a bridge to Syria or to Iran?”

And I want to add: ‘Or is it a bridge for the majority – for the people of Anatolia – to the West?’

“Of course we were brainwashed by the West”, laughs Ms. Elif Aydinligil, a manager of newly opened 5-star hotel Le Meridian. “But I am trying to love my country in objective way. I am only nationalistic when I feel that I can improve things for the people. Otherwise I am an internationalist, learning and respecting other cultures. I think that for Istanbul it is very healthy to balance both worlds. My heart is in the East, while my brain is more Western.”

Not far from Pera Museum, tremendous and impressive museum - ‘Istanbul Modern’ –is hosting enormous Australian exhibition, or more precisely a show, on Dutch painter Van Gogh. More than an exhibition, it is a light and projection show, impressive but one could also say ‘too experimental’ or ‘shiny’.

Across the street, there is much more traditional exhibition of the Spanish painter Salvador Dali and further down along the Bosporus, an exposition of Rembrandt. Art scene of Istanbul is more Western than that in many Western cities. One would be hard-pressed to find contemporary art exhibitions from the Middle East or Africa. And there is close to nothing from Asia.

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