“The Museum of Innocence will always be open for lovers who can not find a place to kiss in Istanbul.” Orhan Pamuk
THE EXHIBITION IN MILAN AND THE VISIONARY GENIUS OF PAMUK
What story is hidden behind an object? When and where has it been used? And again, which is the limit between fiction and reality? An international exhibition interrogates the role of memory and objects in our lives, bringing from Istanbul to Milan the love story between Kemal and Füsun, the protagonists of the novel The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk.
In the fabulous venue that is the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, part of Istanbul’s Museum of Innocence – one of the most interesting lesser-known museums in the world – will be shown in an exhibition called Love, Museums, Inspiration, open until June 24th, 2018.
THE EVOCATIVE POWER OF OBJECTS, BETWEEN FICTION AND REALITY
This exhibition brings to Milan 29 of the 83 objects showcased at the Museum of Innocence of Istanbul. The windows, created by the visionary mind of the Turkish writer, tell the love between Kemal and Fusun and catch a nostalgic glimpse of the charming Istanbul between the 70s and the 80s.
The exhibition’s itinerary is enriched by video installations in which the writer’s voice explains the meaning of this extraordinary museum operation. So, which is the link between Pamuk’s novel, his museum in Istanbul and the exhibition? Once again, fiction and reality create a short circuit in which the visitor can follow the footsteps of Kemal. At the end of the book, in fact, the protagonist walks around the very Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, a place he loves for its extraordinary ability to emphasize everyday objects.
The link between the novel, the Turkish museum and the exhibition in Milan is the leitmotif of collecting and the evocative power of everyday life. And it is by chasing this fil rouge that we follow Kemal up to Istanbul, the city where the novel is set.
PAMUK AND THE NOSTALGIC SOUL OF ISTANBUL
What is hidden behind a door, a street or a landscape? The answer is, almost every time, a feeling. Indeed, the Museum of Innocence is first and foremost a tribute to Pamuk’s love for his city: the 70s Istanbul that the Turkish author tried to reconstruct on paper and with his museum. Almost all Pamuk’s novels, indeed, are set in the area of Istanbul where the writer actually lives.
We can catch the essence of Istanbul by observing the city with Pamuk’s eyes – or Kemal ones. So we start our walk on the Postacılar Sokaĝi, which departs from Istiklal Caddesi towards the Bosphorus and continues with Tom Tom Captain Sokak, and we arrive at Çukurcuma Caddesi, at the height of the homonymous hammam. From here, we can glimpse at the red building on the corner. We are at the Museum of Innocence, in the heart of Çukurcuma.
PAMUK, ÇUKURCUMA AND THE CULT OF NOSTALGIA
Çukurcuma is a neighbourhood with a great atmosphere, famous for its shops of antique dealers, where you can get lost among old furniture, abandoned objects, vintage memories, fetishes from the past. Once inhabited by French, Armenians and Jews, Çukurcuma is now the bohemian district of the city. Many of the objects on sale in the shops come from the houses of a city projected towards change and modernity; it is in these stores that Pamuk bought pieces that he would then have exhibited at the Museum of Innocence and now in Milan.
The district is a paradise for those who want to discover the authentic soul of the city and love to get lost among old relics, spending a whole day between antique carpets and watches, having a tea (strictly in the traditional glass) with the owners of the shops, who will be pleased to tell them their stories.
A couple of addresses among all: for fans of antique fabrics, silver and globes, the right address is A la Turca (Faikpasa Yokusu 4, phone 0090.212.2452933); lovers of golden cups, bronze candlesticks and 40 years of modernism will instead go to Asli Güns, iray (Cad.58, Cukurcuma, tel: 0090.212.2525986). Before leavineig the neighbourhood, we can stop for a glass of Ayran, a Turkish yogurt to drink, or a Nar Suyu, the pomegranate juice, in one of the many cloisters along the way. Or, as always Kemal did, a glass of Raki, the traditional anise liqueur.
NISANTASIS: WHERE KEMAL MET FUSUN
Much of Pamuk’s novel takes place in the streets of Nişantaşı, an elegant area north of Taksim Square, where Kemal met his beloved Fusun. Nişantaşı is the other emerging district of Istanbul, known especially for fashion. Wandering among Nişantaşı you will find shops of ethnic jewelry and silk caftans inspired by the costumes of dervish dancers, such as Gönul Paksoy (Atiye Sokak 6A, Tesvikiye, phone 0090.212.2619081); if you’re into traditional objects, boxes in black and silver marble, your destination is surely Armaggan (Abdi Ipekci Cad. Bostan Sok. No: 8, Nisantasi, Ph. 0090.212.2916292), while you’ll find artisanal jewels like the silver bracelets woven with golden leaves at Alef (Hac Emin Efendi Sokak No. 4 / A tel. 0090.212.2413558).
BEYOGLU AND THE BRIDGE WHERE KEMAL LOOKS AT THE SEA
After browsing the Çukurcuma Bric à Brac and the elegant streets of Nişantaşı, we move to another district cited in the book, Beyoglu, inhabited by Istanbul’s intelligentsia in the nineteenth century. Also known as the Soho of Istanbul, Beyoglu is one of the nightlife centres, frequented by young creative people who want to keep the authentic atmosphere of historic Istanbul.
For an aperitif we can climb to 360° (Istiklal Cad. Misir Apt. 32 K: 8, phone 0090.212.2511042) and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city: from the Blue Mosque and Topkapi to the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.
We arrive then at the Galata bridge, teeming with its fishermen and seafood restaurants. The authentic balik ekmek, the traditional fish sandwich, is perfect for a snack. A delight to be enjoyed admiring the wonderful spectacle of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, following the flight of seagulls on this bridge between two different worlds: fiction and reality, Pamuk and Kemal, objects we really use and those that we like to collect, thinking back to that chipped cup, that inlaid bracelet, that old clock bought in Istanbul that will soon join our very personal Memory.
Love, Museums, Inspiration. The Museum of Innocence of Orhan Pamuk in Milan
Bagatti Valsecchi Museum, Via Gesù 5 – Milan
19 January – 24 June 2018
Tuesday to Sunday, 1 pm to 5:45 pm (closed every Monday)
Tickets: Full € 9 – Reduced € 6