Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekends at the office

Unlike any office in which I've ever worked, the headquarters of Borusan Holding is eerily tidy. Nary a stray piece of paper mars the crisp white interior, where the few framed family photos and coffee-table books placed just so seem more like movie-set props than actual personal belongings.

"Everyone has to gather up their things before the weekend," a security guard explains, confirming my suspicions. I wondered if the owners of the one pad of Post-It notes and the one empty water bottle I spied on desks would get their pay docked this month.

On the weekends, this corporate office turns into a museum, allowing visitors to walk through its hushed hallways and executive suites to peek at the company's contemporary art collection and -- no less a draw -- inside one of the most distinctive buildings along the Bosphorus.

Built beginning in the 1910s, the Perili Köşk's red-brick turret soars alongside the second Bosphorus Bridge, affording sweeping views across the strait that, strikingly framed in the building's many windows, often threaten to overshadow the art on display in what Borusan touts as "Turkey's first office museum." Seven new acquisitions, all video/multimedia works, are given their own screening area, while the current selection from the Borusan collection (dubbed "Segment #1") is spread throughout nine increasingly vertiginous floors of offices and meeting rooms

A smartly chosen mix of works in different mediums, the collection appears to contain very little that could potentially offend workplace sensibilities, though many pieces are bold in color, size, or placement, and generally pleasing to the eye, if not particularly challenging to the mind.

With no more than around 15 works on any given floor, the nine stories of art aren't nearly as daunting or exhausting as they may sound, but just to be on the safe side, fortify yourself first at one of the many all-day breakfast places lining the road below nearby Rumeli Hisarı, which are packed to the gills on weekends.

At Rumeli Kale Cafe, a tea server squeezes through the crowd as voices echo off the wooden walls and metal ceiling in the narrow dining room, its tables overflowing with little plates of cheese, olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes; single-serving frying pans with eggs and halloumi cheese; baskets of olive-studded bread; and dishes full of tahini paste and big slabs of thick cream soaking in honey. It's the kind of breakfast that will keep you full until well after dinner time.

TO VISIT: The exhibits "Segment #1" and "Seven New Works" are on view until December 11 at Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul's Sarıyer district. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday only, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General admission is 10 Turkish Liras. Bus 42T will get you there from Taksim Square.

Rumeli Kale and the other breakfast places are just a few meters south along the water. Go as early as possible to avoid the rush, and bring a good book for when you inevitably get stuck in traffic on the way back.


Duke Dillard said...

I've written all the people in the salutation below so wanted to include them so you would know the audience.)

Dear Jennifer (& Joy, Natalie, Julia & Barry, Mackenzie, Jake, and Aaron),

My name is Duke Dillard, and I recently started blogging at I have enjoyed all of your blogs; thanks for working so hard to share your stories and help others to understand more about life in Turkey.

I have chosen y'all as you are the Turkey blogs I could find and have enjoyed reading. I have followed Problogger and have been interested in their "31 Days to a Better Blog" ebook. I was thinking about doing it but knew I needed some accountability. So, I thought I would write all of you and see if anyone wanted to do it with me. I think it would be much better to do it with others. We can encourage each other, publicize each other, and it gives us a little more motivation to do the exercises. I was thinking we could start right after the new year. That is a natural time for starting something new. Of course, it does not have to be done in 31 days. I think it takes most people longer. I'm thinking we could set an 8-12 week time period and commit to finishing it within that time.

My understanding is that the book is not only for beginners but will help everyone. Some of you may have already done it or something similar. In that case, no worries. However, if any of you are interested, let me know.

My email is

Duke Dillard

Duke Dillard said...

Note: I left that last comment in this section as I could not find another place to contact you- sorry about the out of context nature of it.

Joy said...

Very cool...I always wondered what this building was! Hope to check it out soon!

LoNeSTaR said...

I didn't know you were working in Borusan, I thought you were journalist. Also I'm glad you liked Rumeli Kale Cafe it is a nice place. I eat there from time to time maybe I bump into you some time best regards

The Turkish Life said...

I don't work at Borusan, I just went to see the art!