Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cinema in Turkey

Lincoln Center is about to start showing 29 movies from Turkish Cinema (April 27-May 10). Rasit Celikezer who has made several movies including "Can" (2011, shown at the Sundance Festival where it received the "World Cinema Dramatic Prize for Artistic Vision") describes the series and the showing of his movie in the series here In the link to the Lincoln Center series, the title of the movie identifies the date it was released with the director so anyone might be able to find these movies in Netflix or online or in a local video store. There's also a free panel discussion on April 29th at 2.45pm on Turkish Cinema today. For a general overview of Cinema of Turkey, see this article.

Our local video store here in Chelsea, Alan's Alley, has several movies from the director Fatih Akin. These include "Heads-On" (2003, also titled "Gegen Die Wand") and "Crossing the Bridge--the Sound of Istanbul" (2005). I know local video stores vary in their holdings.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Byzantium & Islam at the Metropolitan Museum

The exhibit "Byzantium & Islam" at the Met Museum until July 8th, 2012, focuses on the transitions and adaptations resulting from interactions between Jews, Orthodox, Coptic and Syriac Christians and others in the southern provinces of the Byzantine Empire in the westward spread of the Islamic world. By the 9th Century, authority was transferred from the Byzantine Empire to the new Umayyad and later Abbasid dynasties. The exhibit shows permutations in the adaptations and transformation of religious images and identities.

Here's a review of the exhibit from the NY Times.

On the left is an ivory of St Mark preaching. In it, we can read the opening of Mark's Gospel in Greek. In Coptic Christian tradition, Mark is the first patriarch who brought the gospel to Alexandria. Coptic Christianity bequeathed to the world a rich monastic literary tradition associated particularly with Apa Shenoute 348-465 (see image and Coptic inscription).

One example of transformed shapes and their religious meanings can be seen in three pyx of the exhibit (one on loan from Berlin), here set together side by side, another one of which is 7-8th C carved out of ivory from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Here is a Byzantine ivory pyxis of the 5th Century with images of women at the tomb of Christ. This pyxis may have been used to carry consecrated wafers to those too sick to attend mass.

Compare with Iberian Islamic pyxides like this one from the Cloisters probably used to store jewelry and cosmetics. An ivory pix from the Walters Museum in Baltimore seems to have been created by Muslim artists in Sicily for Christian Norman rulers in the 11-13th Century to contain perfume and jewelry. It is decorated with typical Islamic geometric designs and motifs. Many such small boxes in Europe could take on a Christian function containing the consecrated host or communion wafers. The Walters description points out that these examples of secular Islamic art were copied by European artists making Christian items.

To see this exhibit is to understand that borders and boundaries are not fixed and that ideas and motifs exist in divers ways in different contexts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

As promised, here are a few of the pictures from the 23.March Webinar. For those of you who were unable to join, these give a fore-taste of the archaeological feast to come in January 2013.

The Temple of Apollo in Didyma is one of the largest temples from the ancient world. It is also one of the few interior temple spaces that remain in tact.

The ruins from Ephesos are some of the most impressive in Turkey. We will have the opportunity to explore the Terrace Houses (ancient urban condos) which are as impressive as the better known houses in Pompeii.

Hierapolis is the city where Phillip and his prophetic daughters were said to have come to missionize. The travertine cliffs add incredible natural beauty to a historically rich city.

Sardis was the home of a large Jewish community that built one of the largest synagogues excavated outside of Israel. The synagogue was built in the 6th century CE.

Pergamon is known from the book of Revelation as the throne of satan. It was the capitol city of the Roman province of Asia as well as the site for the Great Altar with homeric reliefs, a well-known Asklepios complex, and a temple to the Roman Emperor Trajan.

We will see many, many more sights both great and small on our trip. Hopefully, these images have whetted your appetite!