Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tha spáso koúpes

Tha spáso koúpes "I will smash all the glasses" (a more Eastern Greece)/Asia Minor tsifteteli-çiftetelli de güzel kulakların var
altın küpe ister osman aga
tha spaso koupes gia ta logia
pou peskai potiraki gia ta pikra logakia
aman aman yanıyorum ben
aman aman seviyorum sen

Tha Spaso Koupes Greek & Turkish Song Versions (old)

The song Tha Spaso Koupes or Ehthes To Vradhi, a tsiftetelli dance tune, which was a favorite among the Greeks of Smyrna/Izmir and western Anatolia has remained a favorite to this day. Here are excertps from the oldest Greek recordings of this song (c. 1910) as well as a Turkish original.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Costak and Pasolini

Truly a great influence for Costak came from Pasolini. The description from an upcoming retrospective explains why. Obvious isn't it?

Heretical Epiphanies | The Cinematic Pilgrimages of Pier Paolo Pasolini
November 28 – December 4, 2007 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

Pier Paolo Pasolini was many things––a poet, a provocateur, a devout Catholic, an ardent Marxist, an openly gay man: in essence, an “inconvenient guest,” as he put it, at the ongoing party known as modern society. He was also a filmmaker, unlike any other before or since. He began his career in movies as a screenwriter for Mauro Bolognini, Luciano Emmer and Federico Fellini, among others. When he directed his first film –– Accattone, in 1961 –– he more or less reinvented cinema from the ground up. The links to neorealism and New Wave modernism were there, but Pasolini’s hieratic moviemaking felt like no one else’s: imagistically and linguistically exacting (no one knew Roman slang better than Pasolini), unflinching in its vision of society’s castaways and human refuse, yet radically tender. Pasolini’s cinematic pageants of abjection, humiliation and fury were based in the devotional humanism of early Renaissance painting. From Accattone through the notorious updating of Sade’s "120 Days of Sodom" that he completed just before his murder on the outskirts of Rome in 1975, his body of work amounted to nothing less than a cry of anguish at what he saw as the horrors of progress, and a plea to return to the more humane rhythms of existence in a pre-industrial world. Pasolini stood alone, proudly and defiantly, and he stood for the common man.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Sir David Wilkie, R.A. Scottish (1785-1841) |Portrait of Sotiri, Dragoman of Mr. Colquhoun,1839-40 |Watercolor and bodycolor and oil, over graphite on buff paper |47.5 x 32.8 cm.
Through Wilkie’s journals and John Nash, his lithographer, an account is provided for all the individuals within the scene. Sotiri, who sits in the center of the page, was an Albanian dragoman (a translator of Arabic, Turkish, or Persian employed in the Middle East) for Mr. Colquhoun. The boy is the son of Mustafa, the Janissary of Mr. Cartwright Consul-General in Constantinople. Wilkie could well have witnessed the interaction pictured here between Sotiri and the boy, as they were apart of the British diplomatic community in and around Constantinople and could have known one another. But, a similar drawing by Wilkie, Captain Leigh and his Dragoman (1840), involving like gestures around a hookah demonstrates that the scene was posed. It is hard to say whether this has meaning outside of purely formal concerns, though both include the elaborate illustration of smoke filling the glass chamber of a hookah and the composition may have merely been an excuse to produce an effect the artist liked.

The cityscape in the upper left of the drawing depicts the suburbs of Constantinople. To the right of Mustafa’s son there is a suggestion of architecture, possibly a niche or the frame of a window. The cityscape was perhaps originally intended to be a full vista and upon abandoning the drawing as a presentation work Wilkie also gave up on such a complicated background. The inclusion of the woman and child in the far left is a curious addition. Least developed of the portraits (though remarkable in detail), they were mostly likely added last, after the limits of the paper had become apparent. Sources identify her as Wilkie’s Landlady and focus of a later solo portrait, Madame Giuseppina, an unlikely acquaintance to either Sotiri or the boy. Isolated in the foreign city and having lost those dearest to him fourteen years earlier, a lonely Wilkie most likely manufactured a family scene from the people around him.

Dragoman from Arabic Tarjuman, Turkish Tercüman, official interpreter in countries where Arabic, Turkish, and Persian are spoken. Originally the term applied to any intermediary between Europeans and Middle Easterners.

1841 Lithograph David Wilkie / The Dragoman of Mr. Moore English Consul at Beyrout

Sunday, March 18, 2007

First comes, perhaps, a howling dervish...

Howling Dervish photo by El Chark studio.

"First comes, perhaps, a howling dervish on his way to a performance, where, with his fellows, he will hurl himself about and howl the name of Allah, until, with foaming lips, protruding eyes, and matted hair, he falls exhausted, as if convulsed with epilepsy. Following him, one may behold, within five minutes, a richly-turbaned Arab, with gold-embroidered jacket; a tattooed Nubian from the upper Nile; a Jew with a long, yellow coat and corkskrew curls; a group of Persians bedizeded with cheap jewelry: a black eunuch escorting a carriage of veiled ladies; groups of Bohemians; venders of melons, dates, apples and pop-corn; a florid-faced English merchant; a Roman Catholic priest; a Damascus camel-driver; a pilgrim just returned from Mecca: a Chinaman with hie queue; a missionay of the American Board, and even a "personally conducted" party of excursionists. Pick up a hand-bill dropped here by a passer-by, and you will find it printed in five or six different languages. As many more strange tongues may possibly be overheard by you while walking from Stamboul to Galata. Such at least has been my experience at this point where two worlds meet,- the Orient and the Occident,- the pontoon bridge of the Golden Horn."

Constantinople as described by John Stoddard in 1897

[1] Pascal Sebah's studio, El Chark, opened in 1857, and it was Sebah who took all the photographs for the album of Ottoman costume published for the Vienna Exposition in 1873. Sebah went into partnership with Policarpe Joaillier in 1888, after which the studio was renamed Sebah & Joaillier.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007