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WINTER 2024 – Literature, Culture & Art Program

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  • Zygmunt Bauman, the Art of Life
  • Vigdis Hjorth, Héritage et Milieu
  • Matsuo Bashō, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
  • Carl-Johan Vallgren, The Horrific Sufferings Of The Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and his Terrible Hatred
  • Alain Corbin, From the Renaissance to the Present Day: History of Silence

Reading Books: Where Should We Start?

As we start the new year with new reading goals, how about making the act of reading more enjoyable? For some, creating annual book lists, for others, buying books by making random choices… This act of reading, which may differ from person to person, can be more enjoyable by becoming our routine rather than an obligation. Making the habit of reading a routine means, starting this adventure with books that really interest us. While everyone’s reading interests may be different, if we were to make a compilation for those who want to acquire this habit, it would be useful to start with the following books…

 You are not an isolated entity,
But a uniqueirreplaceable part of the cosmos. Don’t forget this.
You are an essential piece of the puzzle of humanity.

Epictetus, The Art of Living

Zygmunt Bauman has made significant contributions to the field of postmodern philosophy. His book The Art of Living is actually a quite good start if we want to acquire a routine reading habit. The reason for this is that, although the book may seem intense, it flowingly discusses the struggle of modern people in life through its relationship with happiness. Here, Bauman evaluates the modern man who is drawn into the consumer society. However that one has become a big problem of postmodernism because of modern people’s inability to be happy due to the egocentrism. While searching for happiness, people are lonely in modern life and have to struggle with this loneliness. The Art of Living sees this struggle as an art and encourages the reader to delve into the depths of the execution of this art. That’s exactly why I suggest you to read this book.

 … I had lived a life determined by routines, I had survived with routines, but then this happened, and I was painfully faced with the reality that shattered my existence…

Vigdis Hjorth’s novel Héritage et Milieu, handles a deep subject through some different story,. Vigdis Hjorth is one of the most important writers of contemporary Norwegian literature and this novel has made quite a splash. Although Héritage et Milieu seems to have a very ordinary content, it goes much deeper into the concept of family. It tells a dark story with its tragic sides, such as existing despite everything and the wounds caused by the pain masked by the visible world. It is actually linked to Bauman’s Art of Living for this very reason. After internalizing the Art of Living, Héritage et Milieu is a valuable book where you can interpret all you have read and reinforce the rules of life not only in theory but also in practice.

As for my next recommendation, I’ll go on with Matsuo Bashō. He’s a significant poet from Japan’s Edo period and is the master of the poetry genre called “haikai no renga”. This type of poetry is also called simply “renga” and is basically referred to as a relative poem. Renga is seen as a type of poetry written by noble, educated people. The poet’s work, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, consists of the notes the he kept during his five journeys and the haiku written with them. The book is mainly a travel diary in which he describes his journey on foot at the end of the 17th century, with the desire to see the places written about in the works of old poets. Although the book reminds me a bit of Dante’s Divine Comedy, as it has a journey theme, we surely are talking about a more flowing and concise here. Considered the shortest type of poetry in the world, the work only consists of Haiku and prose.

When reading the poems of foreign poets, for some reason we lose some meanings and emphasis in translation. Therefore it may seem like it is losing its initial energy. Despite the fact that I recommend reading those poems in their original language if we have the opportunity, it is possible to capture that meaning close to the original with very good translations as well. In this sense, Bashō’s work is open to interpretation and controversia here.However in the book, especially the sections where the author describes the places he visited are very valuable in terms of visualizing the reader’s imagination and arousing curiosity in them. With this sense of curiosity, people find themselves wanting to go to these places and explore them. After reading this, it’s inevitable that you dive into the photos on the Internet and dream on about those places…

How do you know all this? Schuster said.
I see… no, I feel… you too can make it if you try…

Another suggestion comes from the Swedish writer Carl-Johan Vallgren. His novel The Horrific Sufferings Of The Mind-Reading Monster Hercules Barefoot: His Wonderful Love and his Terrible Hatred is somewhere between reality and dream, and I relate it to Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris. It contains significant messages about humanity through the love story of beauty and the ugly. As to Carl-Johan Vallgren; apart from being a writer, he is a musician. This novel of his, brought Vallgren the August award, Sweden’s most important literary award. In fact, I think what makes the novel so valuable is that it makes the reader question the meaning of being human. The novel progresses on certain values about being human and humanity. The inner beauty of the main character, who is seen as a freak, and his ability to deeply feel and understand many seemingly small things about people stands out. All of this flows very well within the book, so I bet it will be worth reading.

From fleas to stars, every being should listen to the vastness (…)
If they had nothing to say, do you think that the water in the river and the trees in the forest’s
Voices would be loud (…)
Do you think that from the grave covered with grass and night
Nothing comes out except silence (…)

Silence…  is perhaps the most meaningful thing in the world. So how much can we understand or can we be aware of silence? Silence is in every moment of daily life. Silence is something we can listen to even when we can’t hear anything over the noise. French historian Alain Corbin, who has thought more about silence than we do, explains a lot in his book From the Renaissance to the Present Day: History of Silence. Rather than going through a theory, the book examines the history of silence with examples and references from the fields of cinema, literature and painting: How was Caspar David Friedrich, the artist of silence had his name written in golden letters in art history with his painting “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”? How has silence been handled in cinema? How is it that silent cinema tells so much, but with the introduction of sound into cinema, bodies are partially disconnected from words? What did Ionesco actually mean when he said, “Words prevent silence from speaking”?

History of Silence is an unusual book that makes the reader question many things through silence…

While preparing the first book list of the year, I took care to choose books from which everyone could find something from themselves and question what exists within them more deeply. So I wish you pleasant reading.


  • Puding Band, Hadi Kalk Gidelim
  • Dolu Kadehi Ters Tut, Dilerim Ki
  • Teoman, Denizdeyim
  • Voo Voo, Gdybym


  • Redd, one of the original bands of rock music, will be at Zorlu PSM on January 27th with the their Redd Symphony concert. On March 2nd, Redd will also meet their fans on stage at Dorock XL Kadıköy.
  • An important representative of the Indie rock genre in Turkey, the band Birileri will be on stage at DOROCK XL Kadıköy on February 1st.
  • Sonsuz Ufuklar, one of the concerts in which the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra will share the stage with violin virtuosos will give a concert at Zorlu PSM Turkcell Stage on February 15th.
  • French Soprano Emma Shapplin will meet her fans at Zorlu PSM Turkcell Stage on February 19th.
  • Nirvana Tribute Band, known as one of the best tribute bands in the world, will take the stage at Zorlu PSM on February 20th.
  • İkiye On Kala will be performing at IF Performance Hall Beşiktaş on February 21st.



  • Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker (Fındıkkıran) ballet from Istanbul State Opera and Ballet will be at Türk Telekom Opera Hall on February 1st, 3rd and 10th.


  • Don Giovanni, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and considered among the masterpieces of opera literature, will be at Türk Telekom Opera Hall on January 18th, 20th and February 8th, 14th.


  • Giselle, taken from the Legend of the Willis and written by the German poet Heinrich Heine in his work, is one of the most important works of romantic ballet. It will be staged at Türk Telekom Opera Hall on February 29th to make the audience experience multiple emotions such as love, passion and disappointment at the same time.



  • Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, one of the most anticipated films of this year, will be released on February 9th in Turkey.


  • About the life and music of Bob Marley and directed by R. Marcus Green, Bob Marley: One Love will be out on February 16th.


  • Madame Web, starring Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney and Isabela Merced in the science-fiction and action genre, will meet the audience on February 16th.





  • The documentary Finding Vivian Maier, written and directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, is about the life of photographer Vivian Maier, including her unknown aspects, and legacy that is emerging even after her death.


  • Including both real & fictional elements and modern interviews, the documentary Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2019), is among the highly recommended documentaries to watch.


  • Sr. , directed by Chris Smith, is a documentary film that examines the career and relationship between Robert Downey Jr. and his father Robert Downey Sr.

A photographic genius: Vivian Maier


This month, we commemorate the photographer Vivian Maier who was born in America on February 1st, 1926. Maier spent most of her youth in France. She started taking photographs in 1951, when she returned to America and started working as a caregiver. In fact, two years ago, while she was in France, she spent a lot of time on her first photographs with an amateur Kodak Brownie camera. When she came to America, she bought herself an expensive Rolleiflex camera. With Rolleiflex, Maier’s eyes changed completely and she turned to street photography, where she could capture more spontaneous moments. After a year, we can say that Maier’s classic style has established itself. Maier never stopped taking photographs for 50 years and left over 100 thousand negatives. She took most of these photographs in Chicago and New York. Although her photographs were later distributed to many places, thanks to the negatives, we can now access her photographs, which are findable on the Internet and in many sources. She did not print these photographs herself for certain but from the notes she took, her photos can be printed in accordance with the original.


In Maier’s photographs, we see some moments of empathy. The reflections of her emotional closeness, especially with those who have difficulty making ends meet, can be seen in many of her photos. These are portraits and photographs of people struggling with life. They are mysterious but powerful, with high emotional intensity, quite sophisticated but unique…



  • Gomidas theater play, which is about the life journey of Gomidas, who is known as one of the pioneers of ethnomusicology and left a deep mark on world culture, meets the audience at Maximum Uniq Hall on January 27th.


  • Shakespeare’s famous work 0thello will be at Moda Stage on February 2nd and 3rd.


  • The Van Gogh theater play, which touches upon Vincent van Gogh’s artistic experiences from his start to painting until his suicide, as well as his correspondence with his brother Theo, will be performed at Kozyatağı Cultural Center on January 25th, and at Fişekhane Main Stage on February 7th.


  • The Tony award-winning masterpiece Küheylan, which has been staged 1200 times on Broadway, will be on stage at Maximum Uniq Hall on February 3rd and 24th.


  • Balkondan Geçen Vapur, which tells the story of two women who will go through a tragic and fun-filled journey, will be on stage at Şişli Theater on January 26th, February 7th, 24th and March 6th.


  • Aydınlıkevler, starring Demet Akbağ and Salih Bademci, will be staged at AKM, Türk Telekom Opera Hall on March 5th.



  • The exhibition Göz Alabildiğine İstanbul: Beş Asırdan Manzaralar includes paintings, engravings, albums and panoramic photographs showing views of Istanbul, which are like a visual record of the city and are in the Ömer Koç Collection. The exhibit will meet art lovers in Meşher until May 26th.


  • Creating a universal language by blending different periods and various cultures, the exhibition of multidisciplinary British artist Abi Ola is inspired by the artist’s family photographs, tribal art, African and British textures, William Morris designs, and emojis. The exhibition can be seen on Zarastro.art until March 31st.


  • In Israeli artist Shahar Sivan’s exhibition What Lies Within, he places the question at the center of his art: “How can we cope with our emotions that we feel intensely, as if they would transcend our body?” The exhibition, which will be on view at Zarastro.art until March 31st, actually focuses on the dark sides of humans. Sivan adds various touches to his work, which he creates by carving and cutting wooden blocks that he cuts with a saw, with drops of ink.


  • Mert Acar’s exhibition Kaybolan Mesafe presents two different perspectives simultaneously through photography. It can be seen at Vision Art Platform until February 10th.


  • The exhibit Sıradaki Şarkı of Nermin Er, coincides with Er’s 20th artistic anniversary. Her visual language, which changes over time, includes her relations with the city and nature in the works, which she creates using a detailed style, especially paper and ink. The exhibi can be seen at Meteor Balat Cultural Center until April 11th.


  • Başka Gör, a photography exhibition consisting of master artist Serpil Yeter’s previously unexhibited works, is based on her observations in Istanbul neighborhood markets. The artist uses the exhibition space like the stalls of a street market. The exhibit presents the viewer with everyday spaces organised like an installation, and can be visited at Anna Laudel Istanbul until February 23rd.


  • Sena Başöz focuses on the cycles and movements of objects in her exhibition Kaçınılmaz Koreografi. In the exhibit she also handles the relationship between body, object and time within the framework of the movement of the object and the temporality of the perspective of perception. Kaçınılmaz Koreografi can be seen at Zilberman Gallery Beyoğlu until February 24th.



  • The podcast Genel Sesler, where you can discover and find things about yourself from many areas of life, including art and psychology, is a channel you will not regret following!


  • Ortamlarda Satılacak Bilgi is recently added to the new recommendations this month. It’s an enjoyable podcast channel that shares information on culture, art, literature, as well as psychology and personal development.

Prepared by: Nazperi YILMAZ