Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Calling Visual Artists: A Path to the Preservation of Hasankeyf, May 16-19

The 5th Hasankeyf Ingathering will take place May 16-19, 2014.

Calling all visual artists, amateur and professional
We invite visual artists, photojournalists, radio journalists, and other interested parties to help us build an archive – paintings, sketches, films, photographs, and sound recordings – of Hasankeyf. Our goal is to create a collection of compelling images and narratives reflecting Hasankeyf’s archaeological remains, nature, and intangible culture, giving all stakeholders the opportunity to see the town’s living heritage as a vital component of sustainable economic development in the region.

Over the course of four days (May 16-19), participants in the 5th Hasankeyf Ingathering will have time to become familiar with the town and its people, work with children doing art, explore the area along the river and in the surrounding canyons, and create visual images, videos, and sound recordings – of landscapes, archaeological fragments, street scenes, flora and fauna, local craftsmen and musicians at work, the people of Hasankeyf or simply whatever catches their eyes, ears or hearts.

Daily activities: May 16-19, 2014

"See those sheep on the cliff?  Those our are sheep!"
  • Use the Hasankeyf Walking Guide: As you explore, ponder the puzzle of urban technology and town design – cliffs, canyons, caves, gardens, water canals cut into the rock, homes and palaces, public works, urban technology linking a medieval city with its natural environment
  • Meet the people who keep Hasankeyf alive: Encounters and conversations with shepherds, weavers, tailors, fishermen, gardeners, and others paint a rich picture of the community
  • Create: Ample time will be set aside at different times each day, allowing for variety in lighting, to sketch, paint, photograph, record, and pursue other creative activities in a favorite spot
  • Inspire children: In daily art workshops with Hasankeyf kids, participants will help them use paper, pencil, brush, and paint to explore ideas with color and line on a blank surface
  • Relax and reflect: Evenings are for sharing ideas and work, playing music, watching documentaries, offering critiques, and brainstorming

Is there still hope for Hasankeyf?
Relax with friends
The Ilısu Dam is due to be completed this year and threatens to destroy 80 percent of Hasankeyf. However, it remains unclear when – or how high – the waters of the new Ilısu Reservoir will be allowed to rise. In effect, no one knows how much time Hasankeyf has left, because there is no transparent plan for evacuating residents and salvaging select archaeological monuments. We firmly believe that as long as there is life in Hasankeyf, there is hope that a win-win solution can be found that’s good for both Hasankeyf and the Turkish economy.

Is Hasankeyf worth the struggle? 
Absolutely, now more than ever.
Because the world needs more places like Hasankeyf
Hasankeyf, with its magnificent fragments of Seljuk-era monuments, offers an unparalleled venue for Turks, Arabs, Kurds, and others to recall past glories, compare their narratives of the past, and explore the mosaic of cultures, dynasties, and religions. Hasankeyf, one of the first places ever chosen for organized human settlement 12,000 years ago, is still a city where civilizations meet for peace and reconciliation – not to mention tranquility, reflection, and dreams.

Practical information:

How to get there
Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines fly to Diyarbakır, Mardin, and Batman. Public transportation to Hasankeyf takes 90 minutes (from Batman) and 2-3 hours (from Diyarbakır and Mardin).

Sunrise, Ra's Tıbbah Hill, Hasankeyf
Where to stay
Lodging is available at Hasankeyf Hasbahçe. Accommodations include en suite rooms (double, triple or dorm) at the special rate of 60 TL per person (including breakfast) and space in the garden for campers (35 TL per person, including showers and breakfast). Contact Firat Argun, owner, at +90.530.929.1527 to make your reservation.

What to wear
Dress according to local climate and tastes – both men and women should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts/tank tops, opting instead for comfortable and loose-fitting trousers and shirt tops. Mid-May weather brings warm days and cool nights. Bring a sweater, jacket (for cold nights), and a raincoat to be on the safe side. Good walking/trekking shoes are an absolute must!

Join us!
Let us know if you're coming by RSVPing to the Facebook event V. Hasankeyf'te Buluşalım, 16-19 Mayıs / 5th Hasankeyf Ingathering, 16-19 May 2014 or by sending us an email at hasankeyfmattersATgmailDOTcom.

In addition to your name and contact information (telephone and email preferred), sharing a bit more about yourself and your interest in the Ingathering -- your profession, your interests/expertise in visual media, your main motivation for participating, and any special requests/suggestions -- will help us plan the best event possible.

To keep up with all the latest Hasankeyf happenings, why not "like" our Hasankeyf Matters Facebook page too?

For more information, please contact:
Hasankeyf Matters
English, French, Turkish & Arabic

Hasankeyf Hasbahçe
Turkish & Arabic
Firat Argun, owner

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Trapped in limbo, Hasankeyf warms to a new season of tourism

Puzzled at how much the town changes from one visit to the next, a traveler returning to Hasankeyf asks, “How can there be so much work going on if Hasankeyf is about to be flooded?”

In recent months, for example, work has begun on a new municipal park; a field was prepared for a cirit tournament; and a network of surveillance cameras has been installed around town. There are newly paved streets, new walking paths, a new parking lot, and so on.
A new parking lot will leave more room for people to enjoy
the view (we hope for years to come)

Cirit clubs from Sivas and Erzincan competed in
Hasankeyf in December on a newly prepared field
Cameras have been installed in and around town

The local reaction to these projects varies from, “They will never flood Hasankeyf!” to “Hasankeyf is finished; there’s noting left here.”

The mood swings back and forth between hope and despair.

Fenced in, with an uncertain fate (12th c. Artukid Bridge)
Just three months ago there was a proud sense of solidarity and common resolve among local residents. It was the end of the tourist season, a four-man delegation from Hasankeyf had met with officials in Ankara, and many were optimistic that a bargain could be struck with the government.

Then followed a long, harsh winter. Sub-freezing temps kept a meter of snow on the ground for a month, with long interruptions in water and electricity. Short days, cold nights, no tourists and no income. Negotiations with the government in Ankara stalled.

“We’ve had enough,” says a grocer. Another merchant mentions that he’s thinking of heading west to find work, noting, “We’re not leaving Hasankeyf; Hasankeyf has already left us. This town cannot feed us.”

As the weather warms, there are signs the mood may be shifting yet again. The number of weekend tourists is rising gradually, and everyone is anxious to see the outcome of the March 30 local elections. Talking about his plans for the new season, a restaurant owner declares, “We want to try new things to attract customers. We can’t do everything this year. This is just a start, and we’ll do more next year.”
A new concrete footpath to the Zeynel Bey Tomb was built last year

Construction of the Ilısu Dam is scheduled to be completed within months, but it is not clear when the waters of the new Ilısu Reservoir will be allowed to rise, or how high they will rise. And without a transparent plan for evacuating residents and salvaging select archaeological monuments, it is impossible to know how many more seasons Hasankeyf has left.

In the meantime, the people of Hasankeyf eagerly await both day-trippers and those who can linger a while.
Weaver Fares Ayhan and textiles vendor Arif Ayhan
reset the loom for the new season