Didem Doğan

The 14th Biennial, William Kentridge and Orhan Pamuk at the Splendid Hotel

The 14th Biennial included the biggest of the Princess Islands in its itinerary and made this remote part of the city an exhibition centre within its conceptual framework ‘Salt Water’. The Splendid Hotel (as if it is taken out from the movie Grand Budapest Hotel), The Mizzi Mansion (which served as San Remo Hotel between 1930-40) and Trotsky House (The Yanaros Mansion) were the spaces where the works were exhibited. The South African artist William Kentridge whose works are exhibited in Hotel Splendid on Buyukada, and the Nobel laureate writer Orhan Pamuk, had a conversation on living in exile and fishing, at a talk organised as a part of the biennial. Their conversation was quite interesting. They described the creative process, through which one authors a work, a book, a movie which one had a first-hand experience of, as the process of waiting similar to fishing. After being deported from Soviet Russia, Trotsky had to live in many countries and before travelling to Mexico which was his final place of residence, he stayed in Buyukada, Istanbul for four years. The house he lived in, now a derelict place, is this house we visited today. Living in exile is a state of waiting, but one of the most distinctive features of this state is that one does not know what one is waiting for; leaving here, going back to one’s home country, or dreaming an unknown country which will welcome one? What is the relation between exile and fishing, which is an activity both peaceful because it slows down time, and barbaric because it aims to kill, as the curator Bakargiev pointed out? Pamuk is taking up the microphone and saying that, just as what we are waiting for while fishing is that unknown thing, which will emerge out of the dark water, while writing we are in an unknowing state in which we are not so sure how the story will end, what will happen to the characters and how they will react to those things that happen to them. Hemingway for instance wrote The Old Man and the Sea and although many people think it is a story about fishing only, it is in fact an extremely autobiographic book in which Hemingway seeks an answer to his fate: Would he be able to beat his depression, and would it suffice if he just waits? Indeed, what is that which we are actually waiting for?

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