The feeling of being on the road and discovering is felt every time the train switches tracks, every time the aeroplane takes off, every time you hear the sound of the tailgate of the car being shut, and every day, every time you step out into the street and blend in with the sounds of the outside world. Today, this feeling finds us on the tram. At Tophane station.
We are traveling on a windy road. Since it is not a route I am used to, I always keep an eye on the signs. Inside me, the curious questions that are repeated along the way from the airport to the city center whenever I go to a new city; outside, the crowds and their small talk; ‘oui’, ‘vamos fazê-lo’ and ‘hallederiz’ It seems like there is a place ahead where everything is possible. At least I feel this way.
Column of Constantine, Çemberlitaş
Just past Sultanahmet, there is another Istanbul in front of me. This time I am inside the view I normally see from the terraces of Beyoğlu. On the road that curves towards Barın Han, there is the traveling hose seller who walks with the confidence of someone who has the solution to every problem in life; the agile person carrying a tray, delivering menus to workplaces every morning, meals every afternoon and then collects the empty dishes; the spice seller responsible for the mixed smells of sumac, mint, and cumin; the happy traveler of the 70s with a map instead of a selfie stick; the stationery store that takes urgent passport photocopies; the pastry shop that reminds you to do your job with love; the names of travelers who passed through here on the signs, such as Pierre Loti; the cisterns that remind us of the water and how close we are to it; Nuriosmaniye Mosque in the distance, the birds flying overhead; hammam as a culture, not a bath. Where are we?
We are in Çemberlitaş this week. We came here for a han: Barın Han. On the occasion of the 17th Istanbul Biennial, we meet Barın Han, which was used for many years as a workshop and book bindery by Prof. Dr. Emin Barın, one of Turkey's calligrapher, (hattat in Turkish) known for his revolutionary works, and which is still a craft atelier with a bookbinding workshop and at the same time, a contemporary art and culture center. Barın's grandson, Emir (Barın) welcomes us. He tells us about Çemberlitaş and the relationship between art and craft, neighbourhood, and the han, old and new.