Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Istanbul Diary, Day 7

The day started out with breakfast at the hotel, as has quickly become our habit. I have to say, I like the look of my mostly American-style breakfast selections on this morning.

After a hearty breakfast, we decided to shake off the musty shackles of the city's historic sites and explore the contemporary face of Turkish culture with a trip to the Istanbul Modern. Art museum, that it. To start with, it had a pretty fantastic view of the water on a cloudy day.

But that's not why we're here. We're here to see a bracing new vision of what it means to be human in the modern world. And here it is:

Tomás Saraceno80SW Iridescent / Flying Garden / Air‐Port‐City (2007)

Ergin Inan, Self Portrait (1996)

Julian Opie, Ann Dancing in Sequined Dress (2009)

Ekrem Yalcindag, 2313 Mal Rot (2008) detail

That's a close-in photo that's within the original frame of the piece. In case that's not close enough to see the essential detail, please see the smaller detail below. This was one of my favorite pieces on display.

In addition to all of the challenging modern art pieces displayed within, the museum also has a back deck (and cafe) that overlooks the Bosphorus, its shipping traffic, and both sides of the city in stunning detail. Here's Bryan with his museum sticker adding to the beauty of the surroundings. 

Istanbul is full of dramatic new-meets-old visual contrasts. As one exits the Modern, it is impossible not to notice the Baroque-style Nusretiye Mosque built in 1823-1826 by Sultan Mahmut II. This particular mosque has seen better days, but it's on the mend and is currently being renovated.

Farewell, Istanbul Modern; your florid wall text and desperate attempts to be taken seriously by the rest of the contemporary art world will not be forgotten!

Leaving behind the neon light installations set off with mummified monkeys, we strolled down to the monument to the final era of Ottoman opulence, the Dolmabahçe Palace

After centuries of living in the tile-glazed splendor of Topkapi Palace across town, the Imperial family decided that building a modern palace with plumbing and lights was just the ticket. So build they did.

As we were waiting in line to get into the main ceremonial section of the Palace, we noticed that some foolish parent had left their child's stroller unattended. Loaded down, as many strollers are these days, with any manner of food and drink, it was only a matter of time before one of the many cats of Istanbul made a move.

This bold feline strolled right up to the pouch in the back and grabbed the bread right out. And not just any bread, but the distinctive bagel/pretzel/sesame bun bread sold everywhere around Istanbul called simit. Which I way I startled the entire line of impatient palace-goers by shouting out "No kitteh! Simit is not for you!" The cat was startled, but kept at its task.

On the other end of the tour, we looked out to the water's edge where the Sultan's visitors once arrived by barge through this giant Baroque gate. These days there's a Turkish Army enlisted man with a rifle to keep non-Imperial visitors from enjoying the pleasures of embarking from the water. Photos, however, are still allowed.

Walking to the edge of the Palace property we took a look down the shore to the Dolmabahçe Mosque, among other skyline elements fading into the sunset.

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