Corona Diaries: AN(A)KARA

Image © Göksu Kunak 2020

by Göksu Kunak March 19, 2020

AN(A)KARA1

Ayetel Kürsi is a prayer that protects you, said my grandmother, that protects our houses and bodies, words and souls.

Once, we were going out of the home at night, I somehow felt uncanny, as if something might happen to our belongings—from the cushions and blankets to the concrete surrounding us—and I read Ayetel Kürsi.

When we came back, there were two watchmen of the neighborhood, sitting at the entrance of our home, like two lions protecting our presence, watching the passersby.”

Dm on Badstrasse Wedding was empty. There were no disinfection and cleaning products!

All gone!

I didn’t mourn or get angry for the things that I couldn’t find. Instead, I went for the products that no one really cared about: not the tampons but the pads, wet toilet wipes—great after a poop—dog biscuits, biscottis, chili—who wants spicy food nowadays?the so-called Asian products from the Asian markets where no one enters nowadays: Sushi Rice. Noodles. Kitchen Utensils. Woks and Steamers. Soy Sauce. Chinese Green Tea. Tapioca Pearls. Large Fuyus. Jelly Cups. Mochi. Roni. Ramune. Shichimi Togarashi. Wasabi Flavored Snacks. Panko Breadcrumbs. Pocky.

Next Page.

During the Gulf War, there was a silent panic in my biological family after hearing the top secret news. My mother’s cousin’s husband was in the army as a pilot. He was in the higher levels of the food chain, but not as high as to sit on his butt and send other soldiers to somewhere else. So, he was flying himself to where the trouble was. He and my mother’s cousin F were living in the South East that had always been considered dangerous.

He was a pilot, and most probably, he was bombing other places. Not the ones at the Turkish border, though—or, actually, even the ones at the Turkish border as the governments didn’t like Kurds, it didn’t matter if they had the Turkish passport or not. One day F showed up at our home in Ankara. There was panic. F was funny, though. She is always funny. She was jokingly telling me that I should find a rich husband and don’t think about work. She was a math teacher.

My father went out immediately to buy some products: he came back with lots of sugar. Lots. He wasn’t creative. He got bulgur, rice, flour, and sugar. Lots of sugar. None of us ate sugar. My mom was busy; she rarely baked. We used that sugar for years, naming it as the war sugar. Years later, I read somewhere: The Gulf War did not take place.

It took me a while to write this. Every attempt failed, without any warning. I was reading a book—recommended as-really-fun-but-not-something-that-you’d-leave-on-your-shelf type of book by a famous poet friend once I had a crush for (I didn’t ask the depths of this comment to her, and instead bought a copy). There is time, so I decided to give it a try. One chapter began with the main character writing a story. Then, I thought of Ankara—my childhood.

Here was my father, a macho man called Abdülkadir Feridun, crying in public. This Middle Eastern man, kitsch but changing himself with Western values, was a pro-Darwinist without even noticing: he thought everyone could do anything with willpower. The ones who fail are the ones that are being tested by Allah. A religious version of the survival-of-the-fittest.

You breathe, and the memory succumbs to imagination or the other way around.

There is a flip-book of very cold moments in my head. I’m hunching over, whether walking with a backpack—bigger than me— or holding the wheel, waiting for my old white Renault to accept and warm me. The car still doesn’t function.

The hunch back kid:

The American movies: The film that I learned how to wrestle is Rocky (after watching the film, we used to wrestle with my dad, which he allowed me to win. Back then, I thought I was really strong); the film that I learned what the English word absolutely means is Oliver Stone’s U Turn.

I remember the snow, the gray, the signs bordering the military zones, the dry hot or the cold in the bones; I remember the gray mist I thought was fog but turned out to be air pollution—Hand in hand for Green Ankara. I remember my grandmother’s prayers, I remember memorizing Arabic words to have a connection with someone’s God that I thought was mine.

Club culture in Ankara in the 90s. Good looking boys and girls—my sister’s friends. Me, observing them getting ready for the club. Busses are coming for this club from İzmir and İstanbul; Varan or Kamil Koç Turizm instead of Easy jet.

Green on a gray concrete; my mom’s smell, my dad’s kiss, my sister’s laughter; my mom’s cries, my dad’s anger, my sister’s drunkenness.

Me observing, silent, shy—no friends, some friends; dedicating myself to them.

Fear.

Fear of the bomb that might explode in the mall, fear of the men’s hands touching me without permission—I’m ten. Fear of my dad’s anger. Fear

One night, preschool years, I was sitting in the darkness with sadness. I don’t remember why.

fear of myself fear of my capabilities fear of letting go fear of myself fear of nothingness fear of Allah fear of sin fear of sex kiss premarital sex fear of men fear of flirtatious encounters fear of dedication fear of police military men fear of gulf war spreading to Ankara fear of my dad fear of fearing my dad what comes next still I’m thinking about a particular person and how this might be the still thinking about a particular moment particular writing and now I need to let it go deciding the difference between my own ethical feelings and what I do what I’m capable of doing what I need to do what I believe I should do writing and reading hardt and negri and all those what did I do read I read novels about well behaved teenager girls, I read how to books on manners from the same writer. I blossomed when they said, ‘good girl,’ I blossomed when they gave the nod to me.

Queasy states. I recall the elderly men playing backgammon on the heads of the Ancient Greek columns. They were living in Ankara Castle, in the small houses, with the ruins dating back to BC.

Beginning the day with Texte Zur Kunst made me ponder. I wished the thinkers from Turkey or the East were also translated as much as the German ones so that I could stop rolling my eyes while reading ‘serious’ stuff. No offense. Yes offense.

Wash your hands. Keep them safe. Dry carefully. Put the hand cream on.

Sonic Space—Bonny Jones was canceled. Die Zukunft a Menti Ensemble was cancelled. Morgan’s Drag Show for Busy People #7 was canceled. LUCKY TRIMMER Tanz Performance Serie #28 was canceled. Mixed Media Drawing Workshop: Mar 17 – April 14 is canceled. Turkish Delight is postponed. Invisible geometries is postponed. States of the Body Produced by Love: Nisha Ramayya is postponed. julians bday hang dance brunch cuddle gathering is not cancelled:

 

its still happening on sunday! But it will be a quarantine bday. we will make a cleaning ritual for everyone arriving. 🙏💦🛀 we will make it cozy with mattresses, so if we want to stay over that’s possible.”

[ROLLED EYES] Well, I thought, I’ll call him today and tell him myself.

As the coronavirus pandemic grows, gun sales are surging in many states Great news.

pretty sure no one is doing to Parmigiano what they did to Chinese noodles.

I’ve realized how my face itches a lot daily. I can’t touch it. Even at home, I’m afraid to slowly approach towards my skin. A new sensation that I didn’t know that it existed before. Guess, I was immediately touching my face to itch and release the uncanny.

A smell visits my nostrils. I can’t recall what exactly it is, but it reminds me of Ankara, Kuğulu Park, my teenager optimism. Yes, I was a happy one, in the midst of pain.

How I was constantly washing my hands

 

1 Ankara is the capital city of Turkey. Anakara means motherland in Turkish.

 
 

Göksu Kunak (Ankara, 1985) a.k.a Gucci Chunk is a writer, performer and performance maker based in Berlin. Göksu performed their text-based performances at The Parliament of Bodies curated by Paul B. Preciado and Viktor Neumann as a part of Bergen Assembly 2019, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Pogo Bar (invited by Léon Kruijswijk), Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneve CAMP invited by Andrea Bellini and Julian Weber, HAU Berlin City Lights (invited by Meg Stuart and Maria F. Scaroni), Bâtard Brussels 2016 (invited by Tom Engels), Broken Dimanche Press reading series at Tropez Berlin, Pioneer Works NYC curated by Belladonna* Collaborative, 3hd 2019 (HAU Berlin) and 2nd ““ curated by Creamcake, 1a Space Hong Kong as a part of the exhibition ‘Hactivate Yourself’, TABLOID PRESS Readings and Montez Press Radio, NYC. In January 2018, their first book #225 I thought this would was published by Belladonna* Collaborative, NYC. Their texts and poems have appeared in the book Portrait Wayne McGregor, commissioned by The Bavarian State Ballet, on the official page of The Absence of Paths, the Official Tunisian Pavillion of the 57th Venice Biennial and on the blog The History of Painting Revisited in collaboration with Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle for the Fahrelnissa Zeid Retrospective.

Read Göksu Kunak’s WHITE-WRAPPED TREE / CHRIS on Leopardskin and Limes here.

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