Asli Dogan

Dancing in the Street

We’re ready for a brand new beat. Bring on the göbek atmak!

Early in 2014, my cousin – an Istanbullu through and through – invited my friends and me to a concert in Beyoğlu, the beating heart of the city’s art scene. He assured us that the neighbourhood, with its alleys lined with dozens of bars and performance spaces, was the best place to spend a dreary February night. Removing a stack of tickets from his coat pocket, he added that Kolektif Istanbul was playing at the Babylon nightclub. ‘No one puts on a better show’, he said

We got to Babylon at around nine or nine-thirty, when the other concertgoers were still having private conversations over drinks, and checked our coats before walking to the stage. Some minutes later, the energy in the room shifted. People left their posts at the fringes of the dance- floor and congregated in the centre, turning away from one another to look up at the six musicians who had just taken the stage. With their instruments in hand, the band must have felt that the room could not wait any longer, and, seconds later, launched into an infectious brass melody. After two hours of dancing to songs we had never heard before – at least, not in a 9/8 time signature – I had become a follower of Kolektif Istanbul.

Read More

Sabahattin Ali

Madonna in a Fur Coat

What relevance does a novel written over 70 years ago by a mysteriously murdered author have to contemporary Turkey? Lydia Beardmore takes a look at Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat.

Qais Essar

Raag and Roll

Joobin Bekhrad chats with Afghan musician Qais Essar about his latest album, Tavern of Ruin, and how he’s been giving the music of the robab a contemporary kick

Qajar wine

Ramblings of an Iranian Wino

From the days of prophecy and empire to boozy verse and full-blown bacchanalia, Joobin Bekhrad reflects on the rich and colourful tradition of wine guzzling in Iran

Rokni Haerizadeh

A Perfect Storm

Nur Shkembi talks to curator Sara Raza about an ongoing exhibition of contemporary Middle Eastern and North African art at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City

Palestinian Museum

At the Seams

Alexandra Talty visits the inaugural exhibition of the newly founded Palestinian Museum to investigate the sociopolitical history and richness of the traditional Palestinian art of embroidery