In Küçük Kaymakli upon the banks of a river (rather bed), the name of it is not known to me, there is a new restaurant “Galabalık”. In the garden a big red sign EMAA 2009 – Solidarity Night, with Özgül Ezgin the Vice Chairwoman and Osman Keten, the Chairman of EMAA at the entrance to the garden to welcome the expected 90 guests on the evening of July 8.
A purple evening, a light breeze, the tables were nicely laid, some in the green grass around the terrace where at one end musical instruments positioned told us that there would be live music and as I found out later, it was the group Carpe Diem. Guests arrived, many known faces among them, at one table Greek Cypriot friends of EMAA, artists and representatives of E.KA.TE, the Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts in the South. With me have come Ambassador Hartmut Blankenstein and his wife Heidi, a renowned journalist. There was the cultural attaché of the presidential office, Mehmet Ali Serak, there was Neriman Cahit, our very engaged poet and journalist. There was Dr. Sibel Siber, member of the parliament and my doctor since shortly. There were EU and UN members and many academics. And there were many artists of different nationalities, business friends, also family members. A happy crowd.
Our President Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat honoured our evening with a short visit walking around the tables and shaking hands with the guests. He could not stay long as he had another appointment but left his charming wife Oya with us to celebrate the evening of solidarity. The evening was an opportunity for Emaa to honour those who have supported Emaa since it was founded in 2002.
Osman Keten held the opening speech. He drew a picture of Emaa, explained its importance for the TRNC and its struggle with financial obstacles. “Our main concern”, he said, is to present art, artistic modern ways of thinking, ethical value in our society, and also to observe its impact on our daily life. The craze of consumption destroys human values, the business-like system of education of the universities gives birth to employers under the command of the market…We must bring this to the surface and show that we need people with character and creative ambitions, able of questioning and critical thinking.”
We all agreed to what he said and turned our interest to the very appetizing meze, cold and hot fish dishes and later grilled chipura; Carpe Diem, a group of young musicians entertained us with soul music from the 50/60s. We were surprised to discover an excellent jazz band known to most of the guests and thus welcomed with great enthusiasm and when they played one of the best known hits of Michael Jackson as a special treat the young people among us jumped up and started dancing. Oh, to be young again! (There is a short article about the band members under Art News on my website).
Now, the board members of Emaa stepped forward, took over the mike and invited the guests of honour to receive their awards.
Osman Keten was to present the first award of appreciation to our President, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, represented by his wife Oya. “Whenever Emaa needed his advice and support, he listened to us and just lately he gave us financial support for important book projects such as to an art history book by Zeynep Yasa Yaman and the book by Heidi Trautmann “Art and Creativity in North Cyprus”.”
Nilgün Güney, the founder of Emaa in 2002, was appointed to present the next award to the mayor of Nicosia, Mr. Cemal Metin Bulutoğlulari: “We are about to realize our dream of an art centre in Lefkosa with his support. We were given the old municipality offices in the centre of the town.”
I was supposed to hand over the award to Mustafa Hastürk, Director of the Cultural Department of the Ministry of Culture, but unfortunately he was not present. “The most important achievement of this office was the establishment of a Council for the Support of Art Associations, and we are extremely grateful to the Directorate for their support over the years for many art activities and the publication of EMAA Art Journal, the 10th edition of which is just out now.”
Emaa Committee Member Mehmet Aldemir was appointed to present the next award to North Cyprus Türkcell representative Mrs Çağla Akdoğdu. “Apart from the support by the government, the private sponsorship and financial help is most important for the development of art and culture. North Cyprus Türkcell have often proved their strong interest in art, and thus Emaa’s last year’s event “Art in Lefkosa” supported by them.
The president of E.KA.TE, Mrs Daphne Trimikliotis, was handed over the award by one of the board members for the continuous efforts to support bi-communal activities to contribute to the peace process. We are extremely grateful for the endless efforts of Nicholas Panayi, artist and E.KA.TE board member and representative for Nicosia, to initiate and carry through so many events with us.”
Now, at the end of this row, stood Nilgün Güney, founder and “mother” of EMAA, which without her initiative would today not exist: “We cannot put into words our appreciation of her hard work for Emaa, art and the artists she was devoted to with all her heart. We hope that she will be with us also in the future.”
A good evening. We heard some more of our jazz band Carpe Diem with Nilay Dervish on the electric guitar and the vocalist Meliz Kuset. We should hear more from them.
Yes, solidarity is most necessary in the art scene. I had expected to see more of our local artists!
Copyright Heidi Trautmann 2009