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Oud master Udi Hrant Kenkulian (1901-1978) lived most of his life performing and selling instruments in Istanbul. He traveled repeatedly to try to cure his blindness, and though he would never regain his eyesight, he would transmit his music to followers in places like Athens, Beirut, and New York. This success abroad would eventually land him on an Istanbul Radio segment dedicated to Turkish Art Music – a salon style music derived from Ottoman classics, but standardized to modern republican values. As part of the state run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, Istanbul Radio was established in 1927 as a tool to shape a cultured Turkish citizenry around a collective act of listening. In the process of building the radio station, the vast Pangaltı Armenian cemetery was destroyed, its marble tombstones dispersed and integrated into the city’s architecture. The destruction also made room for the Hilton Hotel, Taksim Square, and Gezi Park, turning the area into the iconic centre of the new metropolis. In 2013, when bulldozers began to demolish Gezi Park to build a shopping complex in its place, they exposed remnants of the Pangaltı tombstones, before being blocked by mass protests.
Haig Aivazian was born in 1980 in Beirut, Lebanon, where he lives as an artist. Working across a wide range of media, he delves into the ways in which ideologies embed, affect, and move people, objects, and architecture. Often departing from known events, and weaving in lesser-known narratives, he has explored apparatuses of control and sovereignty at work in sports, finance, museums, and music. His work has been shown internationally in museums, biennials, and festivals. He also works as a curator and was Associate Curator of the Sharjah Biennial (2011). He has written for "Afterall" and "Manifesta Journal," "Bidoun," and "Makhzin," and has taught at the American University of Beirut and the Ashkal Alwan HomeWorks Program.
Production: Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Beirut; Montreal Biennial 2016, Montréal
Screenplay: Haig Aivazian
Camera: Aytek Erdem
Cast: Cengiz Sarikus, Sedat Oytun, Khaled Alseka, Jamal Shaber
Running time: 46 min
Language: Turkish, Arabic, Armenian
Photo: © Haig Aivazian