Heval Okcuoglu of 212 Magazine
Creative Consumption is our new interview series, chronicling the consumption habits and trends that creators, entrepreneurs, and all-around strivers are prioritizing to enhance their lives.
Heval Okcuoglu is an Istanbul-based writer and editor. She has spent more than 10 years in the publishing industry, having gained experience at a series of art and culture publications including Bone Magazine and Istanbul Art News. She has contributed to various international publishing platforms including Brownbook, Dossier Journal, Freunde Von Freunden, and Le Cool. She is now the founder and editor-in-chief of 212, an international arts and culture magazine based in Istanbul and distributed across four continents. As the first fully bilingual magazine of its kind in Turkey’s history, it aims to interrogate social, artistic and cultural phenomena from the region and around the world through short fiction, long-form reportage, photo essays and interviews.
Music has always been an all-encompassing, healing and transformative partner for me. I used to make a radio show called The Patchwork on the premier urban radio station of Istanbul, Dinamo FM, between 2009–2013, just goofing around with all kinds of sounds, conceptualising them around certain themes and essays, cutting and merging the tracks with poetry, specific film scenes and soundscapes. You can find some early examples here. Right now, I still deeply appreciate Frank Ocean's Blond, and of course Solange's fantastic A Seat At The Table. There is something very genuine in her magnetic rhythm and courage. I believe her album tells you that you can love the hidden parts of yourself. Both works remind me of the glorious sermon Premature Autopsies written by American poet and cultural critic Stanley Crouch, a reassuring and multi-dimensional vision to experience life by and help let go of any momentary fear.
But if I am expected to give local suggestions, I'd go with Kazım Koyuncu's Hayde. A phenomenal artist from the Black Sea region, singing in Lazuri, Armenian and Georgian. Sadly, he passed away in 2005 due to lung cancer caused by the Chernobyl disaster; he had fought as an environmental activist his whole life. I always go back to listening to it when meditating. While I am working, I listen to the soundtracks of Wes Anderson films to help me make it to the deadline. They always manage to give me a sense of purpose. Thomas Mapfumo's Lion Songs: Essential Tracks in The Making of Zibwabwe and Martin Denny's Exotica series never get old for happy hours. And finally, would this long text make up for the fact that I do not listen to podcasts at all?
I am reading two completely different books at the moment. Roxanne Gay's latest book Hunger is one. I am a big admirer of her work, and after reading Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, it has always felt like a luxury to latch onto sanity via her words in an uncertain world. Another one is Selahattin Demirtas's book Seher. Demirtas is the imprisoned Kurdish politician who is the co-leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, and the book features his short stories written in prison. The book showcases a rare sense of humour and humanity for a politician and some incidents in his stories made me laugh out loud. I hope it is translated into English soon. The next book I plan to read is The Idiot by Elif Batuman. I'm also curious about George Saunders' Lincoln In the Bardo.
I travelled to Oslo to attend the Editorial Design Conference 2017 as a speaker last month. The quality of life and the calmness of the city impressed me, being an inhabitant of a constantly chaotic and over-populated city—and the seafood was superb, of course. There is also a great cocktail bar called Himkok I discovered that needs a honorary mention. As for arts, Erkan Ozgen’s video Wonderland, which was shown at the Galata Greek Primary School as part of the Istanbul Biennial shook me. It focuses on the story of Mohammed, who had to flee Kobanî in January 2015 due to the ISIS siege of the city. During the four-minute video, it shows Mohammed, who is hearing and speech impaired, expressing the war he has witnessed through his body. It is quite a powerful moving image and leaves you with raw lasting emotions.
The new Hayata Sarıl Lokantası (Embrace Life Restaurant) which opened a few weeks back in Beyoglu is a fascinating solidarity project of late, assisting people in need, but also giving them the skills to help themselves. The homeless, former sex workers, alcoholics—those who are ignored by society, as founder Ayşe Tükrükçü refers to them—work there to build themselves up and prepare for a career. You can eat at the restaurant during the day and in the evenings it's open and free for everyone in need. My go-to restaurants would probably be Zubeyir or Karakoy Lokantası for plans with a group of people, the former for the best kebabs, and the latter for the fish and meze.
I don't buy enough to make my life easier to be honest, but on the occasion that I set my eyes on something, I try to sell something I already have. I'm an eBay wiz. My parents finally had enough of their decade-long procrastination over cleaning up their storage and found a Dual Party P portable record player they owned from the 60s and gave it to me. Its electric system and needle is broken and it is being fixed right now. I simply cannot wait to have my Cornershop Brimful of Asha video moment with it!
Want more of this? Check out our interview with James Scott of OTHERFEELS.
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