In the bustling Taksim Square, the French Cultural Center feels like a quiet oasis, where the current exhibition celebrates a century of cultural exchange through an unexpected medium: the comic. Crossed Glances: Franco-Belgian and Turkish Comics, which is being shown until August 31, celebrates the mutual fascination between these two cultures throughout history. The comics were all created between 1919 and 2012, but subjects date as far back as Byzantium. Although curated in French and Turkish, the exhibition is worth visiting for Francophiles and comic lovers alike.
Franco-Belgian comics representing Turkey are divided into five themes, and subjects vary from whirling dervishes to Erasmus students haggling over prices in the Bazaar. In Bécassıne chez les turcs (1919), the famous character that inspired Tintin rides a camel in traditional Flemish attire. Willy Vandersteen’s Bob & Bobette (1967) shows the characters’ adventure in the Cistern, introducing readers to Istanbul’s history through humorous anecdotes. Turkish comics representing France range from can-can dancers in Turhan Selçuk’s Abdülcanbaz (1967) to the young Atatürk studying French philosophy.
The comic as a medium lends itself well to lighthearted cultural exploration. Colorful vignettes convey the essence of Istanbul, and recognizable Franco-Belgian characters transported into settings, such as the Grand Bazaar, the Galata Tower, and the Bosphorus narrate their impressions. As viewers step into the frames, we become involved in the cultural dialogue and are asked to make our own evaluations. Although some cartoons may reveal stereotypes or clichés, it is important to remember that they are motivated by mutual curiosity and a desire for cultural understanding. As the world becomes increasingly visually oriented, the medium where text meets image resounds with a fresh vitality.
French Cultural Center, İstiklal Caddesi No. 4, Taksim; P: (0212) 393 81 11