Human landscapes… a portrait of Sunay Akın
Mehmet Basutçu, Nathalie Galesne - 13/04/2007
Each room of this three floor house hosts its own thematic universe. The toys have been selected and enhanced through specific settings. The doll’s room is fabulous, the one containing the great discoveries playfully teaches history through technological progress. For Sunay Akın, whether doctors or air hostesses, his Barbie dolls are far from being a sexual object. “On the contrary, they must mirror the image of modern active women, pictured in the run of their professional lives” he says.
In another room an American fresco dominates the scene: they are cowboys and Indians. A more recent display exhibits miniatures of American presidents. “I like to move them around, to manipulate them, a bit like they do with us!”, comments Sunay Akın in a wide ironical smile.
This museum pervades you with an invitation to dream and travel, but also to knowledge and thought. For example, the room dedicated to World War II conveys disturbing feelings: a showcase containing miniatures of the Army of the III° Reich is placed on a mound of odd shoes and objects, while a documentary on the horror of the holocaust plays in continuous loop.
Available to all, Sunay Akın is always happy to take young visitors around and be photographed with them, and never omits to recommend to the younger ones to dream as much as possible and to let their imagination roam free. “Wisdom only comes after long hours of play, he imparts, to play is to invent”. “I started dreaming of this museum seventeen years ago, he explains. I saw a similar one in Germany, which impressed me. All developed countries had one, why couldn’t the Turks have one too? Museums are society’s memories, their light. Adults come to this museum to purify their soul, to bring back their childhood. Many have forgotten their childhood.“
A bar greets smaller and bigger hosts alike on the ground floor. Even the restrooms invite you to play: you enter as if in a submarine, while behind portholes fish are swimming to the music of a movie particularly suited to this museum: “The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain”.
Sunay Akın has written many novels. His collections of poems are translated in several languages.
His TV shows have made him famous. “I’m against the accumulation of capital. I reinvest all the earnings I make on my books and TV transmissions on the museum, the staff (8 employees) and its running. Entry tickets alone can’t cover all these expenses, also because the government recovers 50% of the earnings”.
Despite his charisma and his success, Sunay Akın has managed to remain a simple and friendly human being. He can still be amazed like a child even though his own son is 17. “He attends the Saint-Joseph high School” he adds and then specifies: “Today in Istanbul, everyone prefers American schools. I personally have a preference for European culture as we have been nurtured with European culture for centuries: poets, musicians, etc. However, Europeans aren’t acquainted with the richness of our culture, our multiple contributions to their own culture. This is a pitiful prejudice that doesn’t allow them to open up to other realities…”.
In fact, he carries on, European political speeches convey a sort of denial, a failure to recognise our culture, I would even say a sort of depreciation. Yet, Turkey can’t isolate itself from the rest of the world. That is why I am favourable to its adhesion to Europe. This union will also be achieved through museums and culture, that is why we have to be prepared. Turkey has a millenary cultural richness. Its energy derives from Anatolia and Istanbul, a cultural delta where all cultures – European, Mediterranean and Asian – deposited their sediment”. .
We leave Sunay Akın, our arms loaded with gifts he’s offered us– collections of poems and photo albums autographed with seagulls on top, copies of wooden toys – happy and smiling. His generous personality has passed on his overflowing energy to us. We hope that the seagulls he loves so much will never cease giving him all the light of this extraordinary city.
Mehmet Basutçu, Nathalie Galesne