….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….
Time has passed rather quickly in the last few years, I’ve been busy with so many different projects, international travels and film school in the last year, that I suddenly realized I’ve neglected my public art exhibition side. Even though the whole time I’ve been busy working in my art studio, at arts club and attended private art residencies; it did not feel like I was at all reclusive with the art, but I guess I was.
It dawned on me when Professor Sebahattin Devecioglu got a bit annoyed with me as he said that he kept sending me his ideas for a world innovative fashion day and I kept saying I would read it but never got back to him. Well, the idea did not quite capture my imagination. But I told him I will keep an open mind and think about it and he knows what that means. Haha.
Anyway, so by and by, he very kindly invited me to “do something” at the upcoming International Conference of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Dance Education. I always knew Prof Devecioglu was a specialist in Sports Management, so it did not surprise me that he attended the 2017 conference in Shanghai. We had a chat about it and I told him to try to avoid answering the telephone in his hotel room especially if it rang late at night, as sometimes, escort agencies in Shanghai “cold called” for clients at major international hotels. He thought I was joking about China. I was not. Luckily for him, nothing like that happened in Shanghai at the 2017 conference. Hahaha.
Anyway he came back from Shanghai in one piece and with his colleagues at the Neo-technology Campus at Nisantasi University in Istanbul, it was their turn to host the conference for 2018.
Somehow I was given carte blanche to “do something cultural & artistic”. I really appreciated the creative freedom they gave me. I know I have my artistic temperamental swing but they know that when I agree to do something, I usually come to some interesting conclusions, it might take me a while to say Yes. 🙂
Six months of talking back and forth later, I finally came to the conclusion that given the academic nature of the events and the many intellectual panels they had that was being televised….some will be interviewed on National Turkish TV….I decided I would like to do something more creative and laid-back which I believe was more conducive to innovation and creative brain-storming. So in the end I suggested that an Arts Salon, where I could present the last few years of “Kel1st and Yu” sketches and art development with Kel Rodriguez, along with a keynote talk about “Intangible Cultural Heritage & how athletes and artists are often creators of ICH” would be true to the direction my art was going.
All the different Professors at the neo-tech campus were behind it. I wanted to thank Professor Ergun Yurdadon from Ohio State University for offering to contribute with music and helping to translate my english into turkish. I really appreciate the kind offer.
Anyway, the final title for the art exhibition was “Kel1st and Yu; a chino-americano art fusion experiment”
And the title for the Keynote talk was: “Intangible Cultural Heritage as a vital component of Global Sustainability”
I liked what we came up with. I do apologize for Sebathatin nearly pulled out all his own hair, when we had a weird misunderstanding about the word “Salon” and “Saloon”. Needless to say one is enthusiastically embraced in all intellectual circles and the other might be slightly frowned upon in many strict Muslim circles. Hahaha. So lucky for us then that modern Turkey which began with the secularization of education by Ataturk can easily accommodate both without too much drama in a progressive setting. 🙂
Anyway, I found the neotech campus at Nisantasi Unversity, wonderfully equipped. It is a large university, new and modern, designed in the same architectural style as the Louvre. It is surrounded by wonderful cafes, bars, organic grocers and had its own star bucks, traditional food, burger joints and juice bar in-house. I loved the many workshops space in the giant campus and I would love to do an artist residency at the fashion design and textile school one day as they do not have a Fine Art department. I just love how well equipped and technologically advanced the campus is. I’m used to the underfunded public universities of Theresa May’s Britain where they spend more time cutting the budget of doctors, police, teachers and fire services, than they are at investing in education, so it is so refreshing to see a new private university campus that is beautifully equipped with the latest ….everything! It must be a pleasure to teach there and not have to worry about government’s constant removal of teaching resources like in many American and British universities. It is always a good thing when the investment in objective, secular education is a priority in a country! I am so happy I could see that at Nisantasi University during the International Conference. I thank everyone at the faculty for that kind welcome and the wonderful Gala provided for all of us who were invited as keynote speakers at the conference. It was a wonderful opportunity to discover one another’s specializations.
I wanted to say a special hello to the Italian sports management expert as we had many hours of interesting discussions about my ignorance about soccer and his experience in coaching various high profile teams like Tottenham Spurs, Milan, Barcelona and a few other ones whose name I did not really know. In turn I feel honored to introduce the artistic experience of El Greco, Southern Chinese Calligraphy Art school and New York Wild Style Graffiti to him! Needless to say, there were moments where we were sure we were not living on the same planet! We laughed as we agreed,”Yes, Art and Sports share the same planet but exist on totally different planets!”
I also want to send my best wishes to the Iranian scholar who came with the support of his university to present his Doctorate paper about the national sports of Iran. We had some trouble understanding one another. But we managed and I hope that sports will break down the barriers of understanding to his culture in the way that he hoped it would. For it is a shame that the average person knows so very little about his country except in the exaggerations of the media which gave us all “Trump’s porn star sex scandals” (what a vile trashy little subpar faker after the classy Obama!) and Brexit Britain’s “Fear of Muslamic Ray Guns” (google all this if you do no believe these are things considered important in trashy western media these days!)
While most educated people tend to look at the dystopia of media propaganda with intellectual skepticism, it still has a subtle effect of undermining perceptions of people from certain cultures. For example, I was quietly warned about travelling to Istanbul as some of my acquaintances believed that it was unsafe with a lot of bombs going off everywhere! The western media has a lot of lies to answer for…..
Well, I had a pleasant time when we were all taken on the tour of the city. We visited the Tokapi Palace, had lunch at Miniature World and went on to a river cruise down the Bospherous. It was a pleasant day. Afterwards we dined with my friends at the private Tarsus Culture Club at Taksim which served the most wonderful South Turkish food, The club room was an understated memorial to the times of Ataturk. At first I thought one old photo on the wall looked like a still image of Laurence of Arabia. Then I figured out it was the real life context to the film itself. The private club was both hidden and very accessible with an overview of the bars and restaurants area of Taksim. I really enjoyed the intimate dining experience and the fact that while everywhere it was very crowded, the club was a calm and relaxing atmosphere of only a few small tables. Afterwards a few of my friends went on to Klein’s, one of the best nightclub in Istanbul but after staying up for nearly 14 hrs, I really had to sleep.
The remaining days in Istanbul were spent in convivial company with my friends walking their dog at Nisantasi district, all around Macka Demokrasi Park. We also spent a day and evening at Ortakoy Sahili by the waterside, eating all kinds of Turkish street food and watching a turkish wedding by the moonlight. Gentle days and enjoyable evening spent with great company.
I had a wonderful time. I really like the secular Turkey that began with Ataturk….always have….and I don’t really want to see little girls running around with full headscarves. If one is an adult woman and choose to wear head covers for work advancements or religious devotions, I have no problem with that. But I believe that little girls should run free, dance, play sports, make a mess and play as children do. That should be the primary concern of a secular education to enable informed choices from childhood into adulthood.
Over 200 research papers were submitted for publication at the International Conference in Istanbul and I am glad that my research was published as part of all that endeavors to pursue knowledge and independence of thoughts!
For a copy of the published summary of papers at the International Conference, please download the Full pdf Here
P.S As you all know I recently had my hair dyed Mermaid Pink and Purple for fun…it was a hit with the kids on the boat and at the Tokapi palace, where many of them were on tour with their school teachers. They were really well behaved and came in pairs to ask to take selfies with me. I have no idea how many selfies of me with Turkish school children are out there in social media! Lol. I didn’t bother to check as it was all just for fun and spur of the moment! 🙂