Walking with Çelebi

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Walking piece details

Duration60 minutes
No longer available

A sound walk for mobile devices by Geert Vermeire (musical scenario), Enrique Tomás and Stefaan Van Biesen (sound artists).

A contemporary sound walk inspired by the world traveler, Evliya Çelebi, an Ottoman Turkish gentleman adventurer who travelled far and wide for over 40 years, visiting over 250 cities. He described everything he saw on his journeys, and left a record of his wanderings in 10 large volumes, the Seyahatname, or Book of Travels, “the longest and fullest travel account in Islamic literature, perhaps in world literature.” His book is full of fantasy, imaginary landscapes and invented itineraries in a world where travelling was still magical and mysterious. On the other hand Çelebi is a great geographer in the tradition of Strabo and Ptolemy. Historians have cross-referenced his descriptions of Balkan mosques, public baths and Sufi lodges with the actual sites that still stand today, and found Evliya Çelebi to be highly accurate.

The sound walk refers to the magical and to the documentary side of Evliya Çelibi’s travels, situated within the Balkan of today. An atmosphere of past wonder blends with the sounds of contemporary Balkan. Poetic soundscapes, composed for this sound walk, and field recordings of street music, city life and nature, made on location in the Balkan.

Another aspect of the traveler Çelibi that inspired us to follow Çelebi ́s footsteps in this journey of sound is his usually friendly attitude towards non-Muslims. Meetings with many persons are an essential part of his Book of Travels. As Çelibi said many times when he was far from his home, he was perfectly happy to be a nedim (intimate fellow) to strangers, a musahib (boon companion) to other travelers and “a friend of all mankind.” Sounds of human presence and sounds of life are the thread of our sound walk, always in the light of the joy of living together. As Çelebi wrote from his heart, “Most important is the companion, then the road.”

Made for the exhibition a Balkan Tale, as a travelling sound walk in Athens, Skopje, Pristina, Belgrade between 2013 – 2016.  Produced by the Goethe Institut as an European project.

An extended version as a staged sound walk with live actors was realized during the Analogio Festival in Athens, September 2017.  Directed by Sissy Papathanassiou and Geert Vermeire.

Geert Vermeire

Geert Vermeire is a curator, poet and an interdisciplinary artist, living and working between Brazil, Greece and Belgium. As collaborator and team member of escoitar.org, noTours.org and CGeomap.eu, and co-coordinator of the global community event Sound Wa...

Near Athens, Greece

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