Justin Vela

For the love of…Ankara…

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Istanbul — I have spent a bit of time in Ankara in the past few months. Two trips of about a week each since May. And I’ll be going back again soon.

The thing to say about Ankara is that it is “boring.” That’s the refrain from those living in Istanbul. Ask someone living in this ancient city and the recommendation will be to avoid Ankara, Turkey’s capital, which was founded less than a century ago to serve as a bureaucratic hub.

Ankara’s Kocatepe Mosque.

No city compares to Istanbul. Ankara is definitely under appreciated, however.

I detailed the city’s underground art and culture scene in a recent article and photo series for Brownbook Magazine.

‘We like to help people to express themselves through art and music, that is lacking in Ankara,’ says Ozge Horasan, one of the founders. ‘People are still going to Istanbul. If you are a student in Ankara you will most likely go to work in Istanbul. We are trying to stop that. Ankara is also a city.’

 For so long existing in the shadow of Istanbul, the city is learning that it does not have to compete. ‘Istanbul is a world city, Ankara is an Anatolian city,’ says a local artist, describing Ankara’s identity.

The growing art and culture scene is especially evident in the large numbers of galleries opening up. Several local universities have strong fine arts departments and Ankara is producing a new generation of artists more interested in creating a space for their art at home, than moving away.

Read the full article 

For those interested in learning more about Ankara’s art scene check out this article I wrote for EurasiaNet.org:

Better known for bureaucracy than bohemia – its chief attraction remains the mausoleum of Republic of Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – Ankara, a city of some 4.6 million people, has long suffered from the insecurity of an artistic understudy.

Back in the 1990s, its artists fled for the more liberal climes of Istanbul, noted Sera Sade, the director of Siyah Beyaz, the city’s oldest contemporary art gallery, founded in 1984. But now, that is beginning to change.

Read the full article

Statues at Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (METU).

I am also currently working on finishing an article and photo series on Ankara’ Middle East Technical University (METU), which will be out later this year.

So, despite the negative hype there is lots to love and learn about Ankara.

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Written by Justin Vela

November 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

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