German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s two-day visit to Turkey preoccupied the agenda. Since I joined the Istanbul leg of this trip, I know how much importance during the visit was given to political and economic relations, as well as culture.
As I see through the invitation card sent for a “mini concert” for the honor of Merkel at the German Consulate in Istanbul, the occasion was for Istanbul and Ruhr being the Culture Capital of Europe in 2010.
It was quite meaningful when German Ambassador to Ankara Eckardt Cuntz pointed out spiritual similarities between the renowned Turkish thinker Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as much as the similarities between Istanbul and Ruhr.
Following the concert which consisted of Turkish and German composers’ pieces, Merkel emphasized the concept of “culture capital.” With her words “I bring warm feelings from Essen to Istanbul,” the chancellor also touched hearts.
For me, however, the most striking thing at the concert is to see a young Turkish woman, Aslı Sevindim, as the art director of the Ruhr Culture Capital 2010.
The slogan is change with culture
Her family moved from the Turkish province of Eskişehir to Germany years ago. I clearly saw why she was appointed as the art director of the Ruhr Culture Capital 2010 activities going on in 52 cities.
The Ruhr 2010 slogan is “Change and Culture. Change with culture.” Ruhr has served Germany for years with its coal and steel industries. So, the Ruhr region is knocking the door of change.
As Merkel pointed out, the region has been transforming from a coal and steel industry to a culture industry since the 1990s because the Ruhr wants to be remembered for concerts, festival, museums and exhibitions not for coal and steel. According to Sevindim, one of the reasons why Ruhr was selected as one of the culture capital in Europe in 2010 is its “multicultural” identity.
“The Ruhr has become a home of 171 different nationalities. As the Ruhr transforms into something else, we lent an ear to these people who are shaped-up with the ‘culture of migration.’ Together we decided what we are and to which direction we want to go,” says this young woman.
What’s the philosophy of Istanbul 2010?
Inclusion of immigrants in the transformation of Ruhr is the philosophy of Ruhr 2010. What about Istanbul? What is the philosophy of Istanbul 2010? This is the question that was pumping up in my mind while I was listening to Sevindim. For instance, will we be successful in the inclusion of people living on the outskirts of Istanbul, or in other words, national immigrants in Istanbul, in the process? How many of these people are aware of Istanbul 2010 activities?
I wish I had a chance to ask this question to Istanbul 2010 Director Şekip Avgadiç. I also wish Sevindim would be an adviser to Istanbul 2010. As I said in the title of this piece, the second young woman is Huma Kabakçı. Let me summarize her connection with Ruhr 2010.
Following in her father’s foot steps
Kabakçı is the daughter of Nahit Kabakçı, the famous Turkish collector who passed away a few months ago. Mr. Kabakçı had given his daughter’s name to his collection consisting of 200 pieces which he collected over 20 years. Mr. Kabakçı worked so hard to include the “Huma Kabakçı Collection” in Istanbul 2010 activities but failed to convince officials.
However, the Ruhr and the other 2010 European Capital of Culture – Pécs, Hungary, welcomed the Huma Kabakçı Collection. Mr. Kabakçı was preparing for his exhibitions in the Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Möchehaus Museum in Goslar and Modern Magyar Gallery in Pécs. But unfortunately, he died.
Now his 19-year-old daughter takes over where he left off. Huma, having education in London, is preparing for exhibitions to be held in Germany and Hungary. I am thrilled to see two young women involved in the Ruhr 2010 Culture Capital of Europe project.