2006-2010. Istanbul was chosen to be European Culture Capital in 2006- since 2000; the function was not only reserved to cities of member countries. As from Saturday, the 16th of January, Istanbul will be a European Culture Capital. Millions of people will gather in the city, coming from either side of the Bosporus to celebrate the launch of the event.
This cultural year’s objectives: urban transformation, promotion of arts and culture and income from tourism. A particular attention will be given to city life; to the participation of civil society (Istanbul was selected for this participative dimension); and to the exchange between cultures, especially between Europe and Turkey. The programme is overwhelming: more than 400 events are planned throughout the year in all areas, without counting the projects that haven’t been announced yet. The City has been preparing itself for the past three years. A taste of a year when Istanbul will have little sleep.
Istanbul is a multi-century city extended over three shores and two continents. The Istanbul 2010 agency, which has organised everything, has been particularly attentive to this particular urban configuration. Several works have been engaged, either to restore the big monuments (Saint Sophie, the Topkapi Palace Museum, etc.) or the different areas (especially the historic area of Sultanahmet, that concentrates the Byzantine and Ottoman past of the city), or to endow the city with new facilities. Once again, there are dozens of projects. Their common point is the importance given to the urban heritage and the will to equip the different cultural place with the latest technologies. The work done at the Archaeology Museum of Yenkapi is a good example. The main aim is to make culture and the arts accessible to all. This didactic voluntarism is not the only quality of Istanbul 2010.
It is simply impossible to give an exhaustive presentation of the cultural and artistic programme of Istanbul 2010. You can explore the website created for the event (in English and Turkish only). There is something for all tastes.
Cultural and Artistic Programme
Visual arts are particularly well represented. One of the main projects entitled “Live & works in Istanbul” will associate 10 major European artists in residence in Istanbul to 100 local artists. The works created in the framework of this collaboration that started in 2008 will be presented on the occasion of joint exhibitions throughout the year. Lots of platforms will be established like “Portable art 2010” or “Amber, art & technology platform”. There will also be loads of workshops and contemporary art and photography festivals.
This year will also give the opportunity to put the traditional arts of the country such as calligraphy and crafts into value.
The programme will be equally dedicated to “traditional” and contemporary Turkish music. The initiatives launched in 2009 will be pursued. The city will organise several open-air free concerts throughout the year. The programme will far from disappoint the avant-garde. The two highlight moments will be “Istanbul on stage” taking place on the 21st June where young amateur and professional musicians will be given carte blanche; and the U2 concert on the 6th September at the Ataturk stadium on the occasion of their “360 tour”.
If the theatre program is a very promising one (with the organisation of student encounters in May), the component dedicated to dance is absolutely outstanding. Let’s not forget the second ballet international competition in the beginning of July and the tribute given to the dervish tradition.
Literature will also be honoured in 2010. Several encounters and competitions will be organised, giving special attention to poetry like for example the festival dedicated to byzantine poetry in March. “My Istanbul”, one of the flagship projects consists of 40 authors narrating the history of one of the city’s 40 districts, resulting in 40 different books. As in 2010, the idea is to tell the city’s story through words and images. A “Museum of Innocence” will open its doors in July at “Çukurcuma”. Referring to the same named novel written by O. Pamuk, this museum will give a poetic and documented presentation of Istanbul between the 1950’s and today. It will give Turkey, the opportunity to conciliate with its Literature Nobel Prize and to forget the legal contentions raised by the remarks on the Armenian genocide.
Fine book lovers will be fulfilled. Special mention goes to The World of Selim the Third.
Istanbul is probably one of those cities where the history of cinema is being done. The European Capital will be faithful to its reputation. Heritage and daily life will be highlighted to present the City. This is why documentary will be given special importance. 10 foreign filmmakers will be invited to film one of the different 10 districts. Their contributions will be gathered in a feature film made up of 10 parts that will be presented at the Film Festival. This is only one among many initiatives. A book on the history of cinema entitled “Istanbul cinema book” will explore the cinematographic dimension of Istanbul.
Programme available on:
Translated by Elizabeth Grech