Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Art of Curating in the Digital Age

"By our own very nature we filter, forget, hear and see selectively, but that doesn't mean that we have to agree with all the filtering has to be done on our behalf" writes Geert Lovink in his essay "Post-canon or the joy of self-curation" published in the journal of the symposium Me you and everyone we know is a curator (Myaewkiac) organized by the Breda Graphic Design Museum on 19 December in Amsterdam.

Mieke Gerriken, director of the Breda Graphic Design Museum, explains in her introductory speech -and essay that you can read in the very good Myaewkiac journal, that museums will need "to cooperate structurally with digital initiatives." Together with graphic designer Sophie Krier, they have organized this one day programme focused on "quality in an age of visual overload." The title of the symposium, as Krier explains is a tribute to Miranda July's Learningtoloveyoumore blog. Speakers included Bruce Sterling, Andrew Keen, Rick Poynor, Sarah Cook, Aram Bartholl, Julia Noordegraaf, Willem Veethoven and Dagan Cohen.

Instead of analyzing all the speeches and sometimes frighteningly populist ideas I heard at the symposium, like Andrew Keen's obsession with authority and slogans "Curators are gate keepers, they have earned the right to say no!" or "Everything is free [on the internet] because it's what it's worth!" and the audience's enthusiastic response to these, I would focus on the experiences shared by some of the speakers to demonstrate the possibilities and wide range of opportunities digital tools can offer when you find a structured and intelligent way to use it.

In "Performing archival material online," Julia Noordegraaf -assistant Prof and Programme Director of the Master of Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image, dept of Media Studies at UvA, has focused on the digital reproductions of analog objects. She gave as an example, an online film remix competition organized by the Film Museum. Professionals and amateurs were asked to remix cinematographic material from the period between 1917 and 1932 into a new short film with their own soundtrack. This competition took place between April and September 2009. Noordegraaf showed the winning movie as an example, which Keen later called no less than "crap"! Winner Jata Haan explains on the celluloidremix website that "This virtual reflection of Amsterdam not only shows some of the literal changes that have taken place in the city during the last century - but also demonstrates the vast amount of material available online to artists and filmmakers today. Digitisation projects such as "Beelden voor de Toekomst", and Creative Commons endorsing websites such as Flickr and The Freesound Project, have all contributed towards a cultural shift of producing more easily accessible and reusable digital media. As this type of collaborative project becomes more popular, we should see an increasing amount of resources made available in the future."

Willem Velthoven from
Mediamatic has presented an exciting online project called "Mediamatic Travel" as an example of how to explore evolutionary ways to build new structures to create quality content online. This travel project is a network of people working in the arts who are willing to introduce visitors to their local network. At the moment there are 81 cities available on the website (and I'm very happy to see that Istanbul is among these). A good way to monitor quality in this case, explains Velthoven, is with feedback and comment. And for those who are really scared that internet is giving away all expertise for free, therefore killing real expertise (?!), Mediamatic Travel offers the possibility for tailored advice at a fee. For the first hour of a face-to-face consultation with a guide, Mediamatic proposes a basic fee of 45 € . After that, any further relation is to be negotiated between both parties.

Berlin based artist
Aram Bartholl has been exploring online visual culture in physical spaces throughout his work. "In which form does the network data world manifest itself in our everyday life? What returns from cyberspace into physical space? How do digital innovations influence our everyday actions?" are among the many questions his art work is based on and it includes online video games, social networking sites, google maps and more. "Reality is everything we experience," says Bartholl "We shouldn't describe it as digital versus analog."

And last but not least is
Dagan Cohen's Upload Cinema: "Bringing web films to the big screen." Cohen says that 25% of online search is film related and that we are living in the culture of the moving image. Upload Cinema is a film club that takes the best web films to the big screen. Every first Monday of the month they present a fresh program of inspiring and entertaining short movies from the internet. There is a new theme every month and the audience can submit films. The selection is made by an editorial team who then compiles a 90 minutes program to be screened in movie theaters and special venues. In Amsterdam, Upload Cinema has been showing their selection at the wonderful Uitkijk cinema and they are seeking for more spaces in every town they can. This initiative is a great example of bringing the internet to the "real" life, and even giving new life to sometimes forgotten small venues.

So I am definitely one who believes in the indefinite opportunities offered by the internet and the digital tools. Of course there will always be loads of "crap" -to quote Andrew Keen again, but at least I can choose not to watch or read it freely, and I can even share my opinion about it being "crap" if I want to, using the many feedback opportunities. Moreover, I can learn and build myself some expertise I may otherwise have never had. And this by no means excludes the possibilities and the necessity of having people with expertise supporting the makers and the audiences all along the way.

Image: Metahaven

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Melody Gardot's Journey to Amsterdam

I'd been waiting to see Melody Gardot for two years. I missed her when she came to North Sea Festival twice. So waiting for Gardot one hour more standing in front of closed doors at the Melkweg because of technical issues that needed to be dealt with was not enough to discourage me. Yes it was a bit annoying to hear that even after the standing hour, Melody Gardot needed a bit more time to get ready "to give a good concert" as one of the organizers said, booed on the stage. But again, that wasn't enough to make me unhappy. I was too enthusiastic to let anything spoil the moment, and I have to say that my expectations were far more than met.

She was (and looked) wonderful tonight, la Gardot. She entered the music hall from the back, walked down the stairs, through the impatient audience and stepped on the stage, apologizing for her delay. In front of the huge white curtain, she knelt down and patiently spread sand on the stage floor. The ritual seemed surrealistic under the red spot light. Standing up she started singing a cappella, using her high heels as drums creating a little sand storm under her feet. Then she moved behind the curtain and, together with her amazing band, started an ombres chinoises show. It was the most original concert opening I had seen in a long time. After this enchanting introduction, I was even eager to discover more of Gardot's live music. I was mesmerized until the end, and I laughed a lot in-between songs, because she has some sense of humor la Gardot, and it feels so good! Just like her music, and as her interludes show, Melody Gardot is sincere. It was a delight spending the evening with her. And just a personal note for you Melody, if you ever read this post: we can go on my bicycle every day together, through my white little earphones you will sing to me and we'll take each other along on our different journeys.

Melody Gardot performed at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, 16 November 2009.
For more tour dates check:

Photo: A white photo of Melody Gardot by Shervin Lainez (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Storybird: Create your Digital Stories

Thanks to the Free Technology for Teachers blog, I have discovered a great collaborative storytelling website called Storybird.

Storybird allows anyone to create picture book stories using existing templates. You can chose from a very wide variety of art works. This is of course a perfect tool to work with children but even for adults. I very much enjoyed writing my little story, Home (see below), and I intend to write some more. Mainly to exercise myself, as I'm seriously considering working with an illustrator/artist when I will have a clearer idea of what I'd like to write for this kind of medium. However, I am not ready yet for such an adventure so I will start with these "storybirds," because that will be one way of learning, but also sharing. So I would urge you to try it out, alone or with your kid, and if you don't have children -like me- get the one living inside of you. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stranger Festival in Amsterdam

Some 50 young people and 25 teachers from the schools I am working with on the INDIE project are now here in Amsterdam and actively participating to the Stranger Festival organised by the European Cultural Foundation. I've been working on this partnership for months and I am really happy to see how productive, dynamic and hard working our young people are.
If you are interested in video have a look at the Stranger Festival website and don't miss the Stranger Award Show Live broadcast tomorrow at 20:30.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elif Shafak's Journey Between Languages bis

Remember I had written about Elif Shafak's autobiographical novel Siyah Süt some time ago on this blog (see post An Ode to Women). The novel has now been translated into French at the Phebus Publishing House, the editor Daniel Arsand talks about Lait Noir on a Fnac Live video on You Tube. I wonder if it will be translated into English as well.

For the non French speakers among you, Shafak's novel Ask (which I didn't enjoy reading but was a huge success in Turkey) will be out in English under the title The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi). The most interesting about this latest novel is the journey Shafak is doing between languages (see my previous post about her love of languages). Ask and The Forty Rules of Love show yet another crazy journey for the writer. Shafak has first written the novel in English, then it has been translated into Turkish by a translator. Shafak then took the translation and rewrote the novel. When the Turkish version was ready, she went back to the English version and rewrote it with a new spirit. She explains in an interview to Today's Zaman that she has "built two parallel books in the same span of time" She adds: "It is a bit insane, I have to admit. It is a crazy amount of work. I do this because language is my passion." And this is why, despite the fact that I don't always enjoy all her writings, I think Elif Shafak is an amazingly productive writer who can cross a lot of boundaries using languages.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Edinburgh Showcase 2009

I'm in Edinburgh the whole week and I will be blogging about performances and events I will attend from 24 to 29 August. Follow My Week at the Edinburgh Showcase blog if you are interested in performing arts!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Remember 17 August 1999

Ten years ago Turkey was living a tragedy. Official figures say 17,480 died, 23,781 were wounded and 285,211 residences were damaged (see the earthquake's wikipedia page in Turkish). Unofficial sources talk about 50,000 deaths and more than 100,000 wounded. Whichever are the right figures, the reality was that hundreds of thousands people lost way too much during the big Marmara Earthquake on 17 August 1999: their lives, their loved ones, their homes, parts of their body, their work, their trust...

Another big earthquake is expected in the same region, it can happen today, tomorrow or any time within the next decades. Yes, it is a natural disaster human beings cannot fight against. But we should be prepared. We should start by not building houses made of sand (shells were found in the building wreck at the time!!!). Government regulations on building need to be stronger and more importantly, it needs to be followed. Rescue teams should be ready at any time. Hospitals should be ready to host everyone. It is too easy to say that nature or God had its say and that there is nothing we can do about it. That's just too easy. We cannot stop an earthquake, but we can make sure that we don't lose hundreds of thousands of lives when one comes our way. And we must not forget the tragedy of ten years ago, not to cry our souls out and feel good about it, but to make sure every single citizen remembers when time comes to vote that they choose the ones that will care about their citizens' well being. And if you wonder what might happen next time, read Mine G. Kirikkanat's novel Bir gün, gece (translated into French as La malédiction de Constantin). Because reality can be scary doesn't mean we don't have to face it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Novel that Waxes Off Stereotypes

Three young women are meeting once a month to get their legs (and other parts of their body) waxed. They live in the Netherlands, they have a strong friendship and they talk freely about their choices in life: about their career, their lifestyle, their fears, their love stories and about sex. No, it's not the story of Carrie and her friends teleported to the land of the wooden shoes, and it's not an orientalist depiction of an escape from the Harem. De Harsclub, translating literally as "The Wax Club" is the story of Bahar -single girl living with her parents, Arzu -independent flight attendant living alone, and Yelda -married to the "perfect" husband. Stereotypes? No.

Senay Özdemir's novel goes far beyond its "Mediterranean Chick lit" label and its unoriginal cover. De Harsclub is a sincere novel and it is why it's such a pleasure to read. The author doesn't try to manipulate your thoughts about a certain community. In this novel, like in real life, Mediterranean/Turkish/Muslim women do care about and have a life full of fun, love, success and sex, and that is just ... natural. No stereotypical depiction of the "non Western" woman caught in the terrible-web-of-her-so-thought-doomed-culture. Being herself of Turkish descent, Senay Özdemir has a legitimate voice to tell the story of these three young women of Turkish origin living in the Netherlands. Because indeed, having Turkish roots does influence their thoughts and action, and it does shape their identity. But it does not ipso facto imply that they are trying to escape from an-OTHER world. These women are perfectly feeling in harmony with their identity, because it is composed by more than just nationality or tradition. Arzu, Bahar and Yelda are before everything else women, and Özdemir does not feel she needs to justify their needs, their passions, their stories, in any way. She doesn't have to and it feels so good. I recognized myself in these characters, I also recognized my mother, my aunt and my girlfriends, all with their own backgrounds, all with their own identities, all sharing stories of life as women, in their own way. I enjoyed their company and moreover, I enjoyed not having been put in a box again.

De Harsclub, by Senay Özdemir (Archipel Amsterdam - Antwerpen, 185 pages). In Dutch.
Senay Özdemir's blog:

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Power of Storytelling

For those of you who understand French, I would urge you to listen to Le Monde's "Ma première nuit en France" series. The title means "My first night in France" and on each recording, one person is telling his or her own first night in France. Whether they came to France to settle or just to visit, they all have something to say, and they are all worth listening to.

Abdellah tells about his "rêve de pauvre" (dream of the poor) to become a writer, a filmmaker, "all these activities which are not serious things when you are poor", he says, "they don't feed you". Jenny, a British teacher coming from Greece, arrives at 24 and finds herself sheltered on her first-almost-homeless-night by a colleague she just meets. Mikaël comes from the USA and explains how he voiced "Messieurs Dames je vous aime" in the middle of a café, the only sentence he could say in French at the time. His story gets funnier when he tells about how he and his friend released exotic birds from cages on his landlord's balcony at 4am. Angelika tells about her experience as a 16 year old tourist seeing Paris for the first time with her boyfriend -and whose parents have arranged them to stay in separate bedrooms at a small hotel in the romantic city. She has been drawing her vision of Paris from the literature of Simone de Beauvoir and Victor Hugo, and spent her first night wondering about the all night screaming cat she thought was a tortured baby. Margani arrives to France from Somalia to study. He tells how anxious he was to fail "because I didn't know any French". The street where he lived in Mogadishu was so full of life he thought Paris would be even livelier, but on his first night he saw the city empty and thought "Morgani, you are dead!", then he tells how he slept on top of the bed with his clothes on because he didn't realise he could get inside the bed and sleep comfortably wrapped in the blanket.

There is something so powerful in telling stories. Even the simplest, most anecdotal ones, when told with sincerity, can deeply touch. So far you can listen online to the stories of Abdellah, Jenny, Mikaël, Angelika and Margani. Each of them funny, poignant, passionate, they all, in their own way, tell the story of a discovery.

More stories will be told throughout the summer on Le Monde's "Ma première nuit en France" series.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Young People, Get your Mobile Phones!

I have been heavily involved in the creation of a competition for young people within the project I am currently working on, called Inclusion and Diversity in Education (INDIE). Getting ideas from my previous job experience and having seen what great things come out of films made with a mobile phone... I have thought that it would be great to ask the young people in secondary schools to make films with their mobile phones about diversity in their school, home and everyday life. Luckily the people I am working with on this project loved the idea and we developed it together: INDIE goes Mobile is now launched! The competition info and rules exist in several languages as it is open to all secondary school students in 9 European countries. So young people, get your mobile phones and show us how you see diversity!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Literary Boston and New York

I've been willing to write about my trip to Boston and New York City a while ago. It's been a month now that I'm back but it's not too late to share some great literary moments I had there.

Bookshop on the corner of Bleecker and 11th Street, New York City

First let me start with Boston, a city full of culture and history where I was to attend the Media in Transition conference at MIT. I've attended several panels on different topics.
The first panel was about Digital Classrooms and Digital Curricula, there's been very fruitful and necessary discussions about collaborative education and teacher training on new technologies. Students may be digital natives, but most of the teachers aren't. A clear emphasis on knowing rather than knowledge (don't think knowledge is only in your brain) has been put forward so to go towards a more participatory culture.
"Classrooms don't have walls anymore" was one of the messages about the possibilities given by new media & technologies to use in education. The second panel I've been to was Race, Nationality and the Digital Technologies with 4 very interesting papers that I would suggest you have a look if interested in the topic. The use of the internet has been analysed from Black communities in the USA to Aboriginal communities in Canada. One paper has also presented how hate speech, which was mostly spread through underground media (flyers, meetings...) in the recent past, has been reaching a much wider audience, expanding globally, being very active on social networking and in the cyberspace. The Databases, Encyclopedias, Archives panel has been focusing a lot on history, on digital approaches to history, and on the evolution of the encyclopedia and the emergence of wikipedia. The last panel I've been to was Fiction and Media Change. Since the last few months, I've been more and more interested in the emergence of a "new" literature, with authors not afraid of using new technologies in their narratives, or even to write for different types of media than the printed book (the Penguin project "We Tell Stories" is one great example of the possibilities offered by new media to tell stories). These various possibilities haven't been really discussed in the panel, staying more focused on literary theory and other comparisons between the novel and the cinema for example. There is thus still a lot more to share and to explore, so do have a look at the titles of the papers, most of them available online (see the list and links at the end of this post). After MIT, a visit to Harvard was of course compulsory, and so to the wonderful bookstores all around Cambridge. The Boston Public Library was stunning, and the lovely Boston Athanaeum has been a great discovery.

Boston Public Library

New York has also its load of culture and literature. It's the fourth time I went to New York and never really took the opportunity to enter the Public Library, which I did this time and couldn't understand why I didn't put such a great place in my list together with the MET, MOMA and other landmarks (seeing it from outside is not enough). I've been quite moved seeing the Gutenberg Bible.

One of the 48 copies of the Gutenberg Bible, New York Public Library

And last but not least, I could enjoy the PEN World Voices Festival in New York, which I wanted to go to for such a long time. I've had the chance to meet and listen to authors I really like, among them Laila Lalami, Neil Gaiman and Shaun Tan. I've also discovered many wonderful authors, and I had to come to New York to discover a Dutch author of children book from Amsterdam, Marieken Jongman. I told her I would attend events she will be in when back in Amsterdam.

Neil Gaiman, Marieken Jongman and Shaun Tan at the PEN Voices

And here are the signed books, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami and Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, both wonderful books:

You can read all the papers of the panelists on the MIT6 website. Here are the panels I've referred to above:

Digital Classrooms and Digital Curricula

Jami Carlacio, Lance Heidig, Teaching Digital Literacy Digitally Julio Gonzalez-Appling, Technology as a Bridge in the 21st-Century Classroom Bernadette Longo, Using Social Networks and Mobile Technologies to Enhance the Classroom Space Alice Robison, New Media Literacies by Design: The Game School
Race, Nationality and Digital Technologies
John Edward Campbell, From Barbershop to BlackPlanet: The Construction of Hush Harbors in Cyberspace
Kate Hennessy, Repatriation, Digital Cultural Heritage, and the (Re)Production of Meaning in a Canadian Aboriginal Community
Adam Klein, A Space for Hate: The White Power Movement’s Adaptation in Cyberspace
Nancy van Leuven, The New Mediated Environment of American Indians
Databases, Encyclopedias, Archives
Paul Arthur, History in Motion: Digital Approaches to the Past
Erinc Salor, Encyclopedic Endeavor and the Internet
Peter Walsh, The Uses of Catastrophe: Ninveh, Layard, and the Future of Knowledge
Fiction and Media Change
Jonathan Butler, Novel Obligations: The Future of Fiction in the Digital Age
Staffan Ericson, Death at Broadcasting House
Joanne McNeil, New Media in Fiction: Why the Novel’s Protagonist Never Plays with his iPhone
Annika Olsson, Narratives of Literature in Print and Cyberspace

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Perihan Mağden's Two Girls

I've been deeply touched by a very strong novel: İki Genç Kızın Romanı ("The novel of two girls", translated by Brendan Freely and published as Two Girls in English), by Turkish author and columnist Perihan Mağden. The novel has also been adapted to the cinema by Kutluğ Ataman. I like Mağden because she speaks/writes her mind, and in Turkey, this is not an easy task. She is of course criticized by many and has even been prosecuted by the Turkish government because of the views she expressed on mandatory military service. In this novel, Mağden depicts the lives of two teenage girls in Istanbul. The polar tone of the novel strengthens the feeling of oppression, especially for a girl in a male dominant environment. The force of Mağden's third person omniscient narration also lies in the encounter of these two characters, the angry Behiye and the naive Handan. Both girls are coming from very distinct backgrounds: Behiye is the sister of an older brother and the daughter of a conservative family she hates, and Handan is the unique daughter of a prostitute she loves. Since the very moment they meet, Behiye sees Handan as her saviour: the beautiful girl who will save her from her life, her brother, her mother who cries all the time... Behiye hates life, she doesn't like herself much either, until she finds Handan and grabs her to the core. Their bond is beyond friendship and sisterhood, it is almost amorous. The murders of boys happening all around Istanbul together with Behiye's unreasonable attitude and open hatred against the world (especially towards men) intensify the sense of danger and threat. This impossible relationship is told in an incredibly honest and down to earth language. The word plays are brilliant (and I guess a real challenge to translate). This is an excellent work of contemporary literature and I believe quite original in the current Turkish literary scene.

The cover of the Turkish edition of the novel published by Merkez Kitapçılık ve Yayıncılık (Istanbul, June 2006, 255 pages)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Elif Shafak's Journey between Languages

Most of you might know how strongly I always objected to people saying that one can only write in his or her own native or first language. I am now so relieved to read Elif Shafak's column of 17 March. For those of you who cannot read Turkish, I would like to share some of her views here. Shafak starts her article explaining how people like to ask her why she is writing in English, and even sometimes argue that by writing in English, she becomes a writer of English language literature. "It isn't so!" she says and argues that today, when so many people are living and growing up and get educated in different languages, live in different countries, move so much, we shouldn't put people into such narrow categories. Elif Shafak is writing both in English and in Turkish, not only is this important for the author, but it is for the reader. I don't feel the same when I read her work when the original version is English (like The Bastard of Istanbul or The Saint of Incipient Insanities) or Turkish (like Mahrem or Bit Palas). I always prefer to read books in their original written language, the same goes when I watch movies. Whenever possible, I prefer the original version. And in case of Elif Shafak's work, I can join her in the journey between languages because luckily, I understand both Turkish and English. I sometimes have more trouble understanding Shafak's work in Turkish because she uses a very elaborate vocabulary with many ancient Turkish words (I love to learn by the way!). And this is what I love about her work, this "journey between languages" as she likes to put it. It is also a journey for her readers, at least it is for me.

Her last novel published in Turkey and in Turkish, Ask (pronounced "Ashk", meaning "Love") is the example of such an adventurous and passionate journey. Shafak has written the novel in English and had it translated into Turkish by Kadir Yiğit Uz. Then she reworked on the Turkish version, so in a sense, Ask "has been written again". In her column, Shafak also fairly explains that it isn't an easy task for a writer to express him or herself in a different language and that it would simply be madness if one wouldn't simply love working like that. She offers a wide range of examples of writers who have been writing in different languages and in languages which aren't their first, like Nabokov, Beckett, or Conrad (whose English Virginia Woolf heavily criticized). Well yes, they are all among the best writers of the 20th century so no doubt that were successful.

I am fascinated by languages and I myself speak five. I do certainly not master them all the same way but all of them open different doors of the world to me, make me experience different cultures, teach me different visions and ways of life, and offer me such a wide range of possibilities to express myself. So I think I do know what Elif Shafak is sharing with her readers and I do applaud her for the way she shakes herself, her readers and literature to its very core.

Elif Shafak's column in the Newspaper Zaman appears twice a week.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I've been to Birmingham for a couple of days last week and was quite impressed by the city. I've only heard very negative things about it, not less than "Birmingham sucks" "It's boring!" or more simply: "There's nothing in Birmingham!" So maybe I was impressed because I had very low expectations, but still, I do think it's a pretty city.

Birmingham has been through great changes in the last few years. And having such a young and diverse population must help the city being dynamic and full of creativity.

If you ever go to Birmingham, try to wander around and look at the nice buildings and definitely stop by the Waterstones bookstore on 128 New Street, whether it's for the books or the building itself.

Photos: Statue on Victoria Square, inside Waterstones, Facade of Waterstones on 123 New Street

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Inspired by Amy Güth

American author, editor, festival founder Amy Güth has posted a very fun video on her blog: "About my Shoes" I love reading her posts and if I could find her novel Three Fallen Women (out of print) I would certainly read that too. If I go to Chicago, I'll sure try to attend one of her events. This post is to tell Amy that I also like taking pictures of my shoes everywhere! Here are some:

My shoes in Lubeck:
My shoes in Sevilla:

My shoe in Granada:
Vive les shoes!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's in a name?

Is one's whole identity in a name? What does it say about where one comes from? Does it say anything about where one goes? Would one be different if named differently? Does one try to escape their identity by using a pen name? I'm sure you all would have different answers to these questions. I have some I'd like to share. Many people who know me as Canan ask me where the name Ayse come from? Well... Ayse is actually my first name and it appears on my passport , driver's licence, identity card, my diplomas, and therefore on my plane tickets, bank cards, on my door bell. Canan has been amputated by officials and only appears as a C. on all these documents. Most people call me Canan because it's how my parents and friends have been calling me for the last 29 years. And for 29 years my name has been transformed to Conan, Chanan, Shanan, Kanaan and so on. I always felt I had a different name outside Turkey. The pronunciation was changing with the geography where it was spoken. The closest to the Turkish pronounciation would be Janan or even Jaanan. I only bother correcting people when they pronounce K, but I don't mind if the J becomes CH or SH. Some friends and colleagues call me Ayse, and most people only need to pronounce my name once, so I never correct the latter bunch. The correct pronounciation would sound Ayshe.... so if you chose to call me Ayse...
Does my name cover my whole identity? Thank God no! It helps understanding my history, it says where my name comes from, and one can guess where I or my family might come from too. As for where I go and how I'd be going if I had another name, I cannot say. I am just happy I have two names I love and that belong to me, because both have been offered to me by my parents.
Since I moved to the Netherlands, it got even easier to avoid the confusion: on all official paperwork you're only asked to write down your "Hoofdletter", the first letter of your surnames. Happy me, I'm now A.C.! My name journey will never end, fortunately.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Books & Brussels

One of my favorite activities when in Brussels is to wander in bookstores. Not that there are none in Amsterdam (there are plenty and very high quality bookstores like Athenaeum Boekhandel), it's just that I miss being surrounded by books written in French when I enter a bookstore. Athenaeum has a fairly good section of French speaking books and I can always order online. But I still love going to a bookstore, seeing what's new, discovering some jewel of a book chosen by the employees that month, or just touching the hard and paper back covers, opening and going through the pages. So last week I've been to Tropismes for the wide choice of fiction, theatre and poetry, to Brüsel for the graphic novels and comic books but also the very nice gallery, and although impersonal and too big I've been to FNAC (avoid the place on Saturday!) because of the wide space. Here are some titles I've bought during my visits:
"Entre les murs" by François Bégaudeau (you will certainly know the adaptation to cinema from Laurent Cantet: "The Class"), "De cendres et de fumées" by Philippe Blasband and "Pyongyang" by Quebecois graphic novelist Guy Delisle. Other acquisitions are translated works: "Le Dieu Manchot" by José Saramago, "Le voyage dans le passé" by Stefan Zweig and two mangas: "The Outsider" by Gou Tanaber and"Le Champ de l'arc-en-ciel/Nijigahara Holograph" by Inio Asano.

My hunger for books has been satiated during my stay in Brussels. The Brussels Book Fair began when I was still there! I've spoken to some authors, discovered new publishing houses, listened to Enki Bilal talk about his new work ANIMAL'Z , lied to Joseph Joffo about willing to buy one of his books but claiming I needed to go to the ATM (I have read "A Bag of Marbles" in high school and didn't want to buy old fashioned editions of his books - but there's no excuse, I feel bad, I shouldn't lie!), discovered the work of Karin Tuil during her talk and listened to interviews of authors on the radio on my way back home to Amsterdam, a bag full of publisher catalogs, promotional bookmarks and books on the passenger seat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Visit Amsterdam!

I've been preparing a short virtual visit of Amsterdam for the Virtourist website the last few weeks, and finally it is ready and online! You can visit this wonderful city which has been my home for more than a year now by clicking here. Enjoy!
Photo: Klovenierburgswal by Erinc Salor

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I haven't got the opportunity to post anything for a while. I have also been really lazy these last weeks (except during my trip in South Korea which was a delightful experience!). I haven't written a line for weeks now, my short stories are still waiting on my hard drive and somewhere in my mind. Ideas are still alive but structure is nowhere around! I will give myself some time, not too long though, but just enough to get back to work and being productive! Feels good even to write about it now!

Me upside down at the Film Museum in Mole Antonelliana , Torino, Dec 2007 (photo by Erinc Salor)