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东游记活动|Istanbul: East and West at the Cross Roads 伊斯坦布尔:东西方的十字路口

Journey to the East event in Istanbul, Turkey, March 7


Journey to the East cycling project is an attempt to map, understand and reflect upon the cultural axis of East and West, as perhaps the most lasting generator of global history and creative drive. Cycling this axis goes further though. From an intellectual discourse, this time the axis can be experienced as an immediate reality, being embodied by real situations in time and space, and real people living their lives before and beyond reflection. This is literally about leaving any proverbial armchair, and act with a profound physical effort and risk, going beyond any theory in favor of evidence, evidence, and nothing but evidence.


To break down this ongoing action of many months in a row into smaller acts, there will be held several events, marking about any 1000km or so. Each of them will address a specific dimension of the East West relationship, intended to capture insights more precisely, to establish connections, and to generate a physical legacy to be taken on the journey towards final destination Shanghai, where a group of students will start working on a tangible conclusion of the journey.


The series' third event unfolded in Istanbul, a city that for millennia has been contested as belonging to… Yes to whom?


Not only has the city been changing hands a number of times, as a trophy of dominant powers. Changes also caused entire paradigm shifts, determining global history for centuries, profoundly directing regional developments, framing world views, belief systems, and ideologies, and upholding its reputation of being not only a strategic stronghold, foothold or bulwark, but also a symbol of civilizational might. Rulers did not only want to be in charge of Istanbul, they defined it as being power itself, the core of legitimacy, a true source and generator of culture. Moreover, this role and capacity of Istanbul did not only lead to a series of superpositions, but managed to blend old and new, secular and spiritual, and even Europe and Asia. The answer to the question therefore should be: “to everyone”, a model of kosmopolitanism.


Istanbul’s geographic unique position has given it a special relationship with the water of Bosporus and Marmara Sea. At moments, it looks as if the entire city deals with the water, by crossing the many bridges, by having a meal along the waterfront, by fishing on the Galata bridge or by just watching Marmara from deck chairs along the sea.


Arriving in Istanbul, my very first thing to do is to climb the hill towards Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, monuments that uniquely embody the spirit of Istanbul of mixing cultures and the power of art stronger than any violent inclination to destroy. This church, turned into mosk, has the grandeur of any architecture that vindicates its status as Mother of all Arts.


Roaming the Grand and Egyptian Bazaar facilitates to get in actual touch with the Silk Road history, making Istanbul a true cross roads of trade, taste, desire and temptation. Here it becomes clear what it means to bring the world together in terms of its cultural and material riches.


Way before modern Türkiye, way before the Ottoman Empire, way before Constantinople, there was a Byzantium that was visited by Roman emperors and dignitaries as a place worth traveling all across the Balkan to exert power and authority. For them a special Golden Gate was built. It’s still there.


And the event at the Art Istanbul Feshane former Fez factory, hosted wonderfully by Mustafa Osman, an encounter was staged between my threefold motivation to embark on this journey, and the curiosity from the audience, asking me several questions. For the first time this project, I felt that motivation is no longer enough. What is in people’s mind is what makes the difference. Whatever effort to prepare my visits, I am exposed to knowledge, vision and sentiments that cannot be anticipated from afar.


It can’t be left unmentioned how the the president of the Turkish Cycling Association Murat Suyabatmaz attended the lecture, offered me help to cross Türkiye, and most of all wanted to test my bicycle which reputation apparently is growing.

值得一提的是,土耳其自行车协会主席Murat Suyabatmaz参加了我的讲座,并提出帮助我穿越土耳其的建议。更为重要的是,他还表示想要亲自试骑我的自行车,这辆车的名声显然正在逐渐增长。


Journey to be continued...

and to follow the Journey by





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