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I’m still tired and sleepy... we had a birthday party for Stephan, Eylem and Susan at Rijks yesterday. It was a costume party; there was a long listing of politicians, celebrity and artists, one of whom you are supposed to choose and dress up like. I chose ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ and appeared to the party with a silver circle on my forehead. I made them laugh!
I missed an appointment with Jan Roeland (a Dutch painter) ... because I confused Tuesday and Thursday! It has been already nine months since I arrived here. Why could I confuse Thursday and Tuesday?? I blamed my carelessness. Stupid Tomoko, stuuuuupiiiiid!
Jan is one of my favourite advisors; since the beginning of his career, he has always been a painter.
He said that he was waiting in my studio, thinking ‘Probably she has gone to get the new light bulb’ (the bulb went off a few days ago; but I just left it) - I’m sooooo sorry!!!!
I came to Rijks at around lunch time. When I spotted him in the corridor, I went near him saying something like ‘hello-oo’ – then I found out the rest of the story. I was dumbstruck. Jan was very kind; he simply said ‘Your paintings are getting better.’
A New Studio
ve moved to a slightly larger studio. The previous one had ample sunlight but a bit small to work on large paintings. Although I managed to work there, I have been asking the facilitator and the advisors for a larger one since the beginning of this year. I finally got it. I am very happy.
Istanbul: Post Script
I’d like to write a little about our main objective – the Biennale.
The concept for this 9th Biennale was ‘Istanbul’ – Istanbul as an imaginal city where the East and the West meets, and Istanbul as a substantial city in the midst of changes and real problems. The works on the exhibitions were mainly by artists who live and work in Istanbul; but there were also works by artists from outside Istanbul which have the similar approaches to their environment.
The curators of the Biennale were Charles Esche and Vasif Kortun. Charles Esche was one of the advisors at Rijks till last year.
Because of its focus on the local artists (I mentioned above), there were less works by ‘big names,’ which are usually more sophisticated but less thrilling. Instead, there were lots of works that are kind of anonymous and unfinished, still struggling to find their ‘home’ – I liked these works a lot. I really enjoyed the show.
Because of its ‘unfinished’ quality, some commented that it looked a bit like a school show; but for me, all the works were there as they were by necessity, not by accident. It was not at all like a school show for me... hummmm.
Quite a few works were directly about political or social issues, such as mass-consumerism, or wars. One of the comment I heard was ‘I want to see more of their visions as artists.’
I did not really agree with this point either, as I thought that this show is partly a criticism of lack of political or social commitment in artists’ activities.
I will put some names of the artists whose works caught my attention – when I have the catalogue with me.
By the way, Hala-chan, the first-year resident artist from Egypt at Rijks, was one of the participants in the Biennale. Wow!
Istanbul: Day Five
My final event in Istanbul was to visit Hammam (Turkish bath) and relax before going back to Amsterdam.
I paid 32000000TYL(n.1) (about €20), including a full-body skin-scrubbing and massage.
It was in an old building built in the seventeenth century, a beautiful place with natural sunlight pouring in from above. A cheerful auntie gave me a full-body skin-scrubbing and massage. Very very relaxing. Soooooooo goooood.
It has been about seven or eight years since I last had the full-body skin-scrubbing (aka-suri) in Korea. I got rid of amazing amount of grime.
The BGM was from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (why?).
Note 1: Turkish lira. €1=1600000TYL
Istanbul: Day Four
My attempt at representing Istanbul graphically
Istanbul: Day Three
I went to see a mosque(n.1). As Ramadan(n.2) has just started two days before our arrival, we could see lots of people praying in the mosque. Here are the details of the inside of the mosque:
1. This is the place where the Koran is being read. There is a microphone stand. The voice can also be heard at outside through the speakers attached to the outside wall of the mosque. I heard that they used to ‘shout’ from the top of the tower.
2. Some calligraphy which look like ideographic writing. There are eight kinds, each symbolizing a part from the Koran. They use characters instead of icon.
3. Intricate patterned tiles. Beautiful. The pattern is numerously repeated and covers the entire mosque.
4. Visitors (us). Female visitors must wear a scarf and a skirt (we can borrow them at the entrance). On looking at me dressed as a Muslim lady, one of my friends from Thailand burst out laughing saying, ‘Tomoko, you look exactly like a Chinese Muslim in Thailand.’ OK, whatever...
5. Some Muslim people taking a break. One of them said ‘I skip this prayer because I am tired.’(n.3) Another one said ‘It is best to do it after dinner; otherwise you become really hungry, you know.’ It seems that prayers of Muslims are attended quite flexibly.
6. The lighting. There are several circles of light; these are hung from the highest point of the ceiling, and illuminating the room just above the people’s height.
7. The people who are praying.
Note 1: A kind of temple for the Muslims. A place for prayer.
Note 2: During this period, the Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.
Note 3: During Ramadan, people pray five times a day.
Istanbul: Day Two
Istanbul is divided into three areas: an urban island where the Biennale and our hotel are located; an old and beautiful island with tourist spots where the mosque and the Old Royal Palace are located; and a local island located towards the east. First two are distinctively European, and Asia starts on the third island.
After visiting two Biennale venues (out of seven), we were a bit tired so we decided to visit the rest on the next day, and went for a walk to the island of the mosque. On the long bridge to the island, I saw hundreds of people fishing – I heard that they are there from morning till night. For a moment, I thought this is the kind of life that I want – though soon after that I had second thought about it. The bridge seems to be a good spot for fishing, as they were catching lots of small fish which look like surf smelt. They were keeping the fish in a bucket-size yoghurt container (about 30cm across); this made me feel ‘Ah, I am now in Turkey...!’
Istanbul: Day One
The first thing that amazed me was... a mountain of?—a sea of?—the dish antennas on the rooftops that I saw from the airplane. They appeared to me something like a numerous mushrooms growing or mussels attached on the body of a ship... it was sooo many, and such a strange view. I was shocked. For me it was as though I had already experienced the highlight of our Istanbul trip.
I just came back from Istanbul. It was fun. I really really enjoyed it. I am glad that I went although it was in the middle of such a busy time. I write more about this trip later.