Orhan Pamuk: People stood up for their memories in Gezi Protests

Esma Çakır / Venice, Sep 17 () – Turkey’s Nobel laureate author Orhan Pamuk stressed the “crooked” transformation of Istanbul city that he often portray in his novels, in the last 13 years, having added that when a city changed, memories changed, too.

Pamuk referred to the Gezi Protests across Turkey that has turned into an “anti-government protest” against urban developments, and told that with its political dimension, “people have defended their memories with instincts as they were animals”.

Orhan Pamuk has been in Venice for the premier of the renowned British documentarist Grent Gee’s film, which has been inspired by Pamuk’s famous novel “Museum of Innocence”. This documentary-drama called “The Innocence of Memories” has been applauded by the Venedik Film Festival audience, after the world premiere on Sep. 7.

In an exclusive interview with Dogan News Agency, Orhan Pamuk referred to the film where archive pictures and collage, use of camera, the carefully written script and its mysterious narrative have glamorized the audience, while placing Istanbul to the center.

The film also sees into the Gezi Park Protests in 2013, along with scenes showing famous photographer Ara Güler, sultan of Turkish cinema Türkan Şoray and a taxi driver, along with many other slices of life.

Having declared that the film wasn’t a “movie made of his novel titled ‘Museum of Innocence’, Pamuk added the novel was more like a source of inspiration.

“The movie seeks to look through the story in the novel through the eyes of one of its child characters, after 12 years. The movie also blink an eye to my other novels, ‘Istanbul’ and ‘the Black Book’, along with the Istanbul of our day that I’ve been able to pull up to in my novel, ‘A Strangeness in my mind’. The transformation of the chemistry of the city, the construction madness, concrete buildings, destruction of green, still, the fact that Istanbul has always remained the same…The film’s unique side is that it recognizes all these.”

Pamuk added that the movie was, through the Turkish readers’ eyes, an intellectual film with its difficulties, having personal touches of the British director’s life, observation, character. Pamuk defined the film as “clever and bright”, recognizing its “documentary journalism” side, which includes ordinary conversations, sections of life.

“I have been living in Istanbul in the last 63 years. When I was born there were 1 million people; now the number grew to 15 million, they say. The transformation in the city in the last 13 years is beyond the transformation in the first 50 years of my life. The city has grown, the population has increased and its look has changed, rapidly. Tall buildings, a disrespect to the green and to ancient buildings, and the destruction of the culture of neighbourhood…” said Pamuk, having added that we have seen these indicators in Gezi Park Protests:

“A park being demolished in front of people’s eyes, in Taksim’s Gezi Park…It evolved into a political and social event. These are the issues, fair and square, that I’d like to, other people would like to talk about”

According to Orhan Pamuk, to watch the old buildings and memories being demolished knocks, tires people out.

“Because a city is like the index of a book, bringing us back to our memories… We fall in love and wander near a square later, then remember that flame..Memories leave their marks to buildings, trees, squares, parks. When a city transforms, we can’t reach to our memories. Thus, we defend first our selves, then our memories, with instincts of an animal. This is not necessarily political, this is personal, human. In Gezi, on the other hand, this has taken a political dimension, too” said Pamuk.

Orhan Pamuk also voiced criticism to the Justice and Development Party (AKP), declaring “The AKP has been at a more honourable position eight years ago, when the party’s municipality in Istanbul asked the public to poll their favoured design to renew ferries of the city”. A recent change in ferries’ design were not asked the residents and the new look was disliked by Istanbulites.

“We don’t have a transparent and democratic platform to debate these criterions. Someone says, ‘We’ll build a mosque here, construct a mall there’; before you know, they complete them. Now they put in front of us a ferry in shape of a basket, without asking anyone! They don’t ask the cultural issues to the public either. They make choices, they lose, and then they make another one. That’s the point where they grind to a halt” said Nobel laureate author.



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