The couple Ken and Kali Marquardt, who have been the frequenters of the Grand Bazaar for nine years say: ”You shouldn’t let the European Union enter here.” In a foreigner’s eye the value of the Grand Bazaar is different. The harmony of colors and sounds, which we are used to, creates exotic connotations for them. Eacheye that looks at the Grand Bazaar catches a different color and picture. The American couple, Ken and Kali Marquardt, looks at the Bazaar through an artist’s eye.
Although they are Americans, Kali said that as soon as she could, she left Iowa, where she was originally from. Ken also left America when he was very young and lived in different countries of Europe. The couple has been living in a small town in Ossola Valley in north Italy for eleven years. Ken Marquardt is the director of the Canova Association which runs the restaration works of Canova city. His wife Kali Marquardt is an artist who does texture and costume themed works. You can guess where Kali gets her texture and costume materials from; the Grand Bazaar of course
I met with Ken and Kali in Cebeci Inn. This couple, who knows and loves Turkish food a lot, got the table set lavishly with eggplant kebab, rice, pitta bread with cheese and yogurt drink. We started an exciting conversation about the importance of the Grand Bazaar in their lives, along with its history and future. The couple came to İstanbul for the first timenine years ago. When I asked how they heard about the Grand Bazaar, they got angry a little and said “Everyone knows here”. What attracted them to the bazaar was their passian for shopping. Sameone brought them to a smail shop where they could buy tiny objects for Kali’s art works and they found amazing things there. Later on, they discovered the rest of the bazaar.
“After a short time, it became a passian for us,”said Ken. Kali said they had an incredible day on the very first day in the Grand Bazaar. “It was something really crazy for us, but also very fun. This place’s visual interaction over us was also unbelievable. The things that the Bazaar awakens inside us are so interesting. Generally, in this way İstanbul and entire Turkey are extraordinary; the history, culture, people and I think the Grand Bazaar is the center of all in a way.” The Marquardt couple went back to those times nine years ago as they talked about their first days here. Their relationship with the Grand Bazaar and Turkey seemed more like love than a touristic visit. Four years ago, they followed their love and moved to Beyoğlu for six months. Mrs.Marquardt explained those days as: “W e had a very beautiful and at the same time very modest apartment. We used to spend a lot of time in the Bazaar after we shopped for my works. We made so many friends here. I found great things for my works. Same of the most beautiful costumes, which you can’t even encounter in museums, would be so old but priced so cheap. However, restaring them had its own unique pleasure. I di d lo ts of works during my stay here and the role of the Bazaar is so big in this.” As I was impressed by the liveliness and the Turkish patterns in her works and by taking the connection between the Bazaar and her works into consideration, I asked her if she would want to exhibit them in the Grand Bazaar. She said she’d love to and added; “The exhibition would be an exeuse for us to settle in İstanbul again for a while”.
As I said, the couple had a history of nine years in the Grand Bazaar. In their visits throughout this time, they witnessed many negative changes in the Bazaar as well and they were worried about this. As a restaration manager, Ken Marquardt had something to say: “This place is a national treasure that definitely must be preserved better. It has to be supported more by private investors. The Bazaar has to be the symbol of the connection of Europe and Asia.
The economy has to provide opportunities to do a better and stronger restoration, and regular inspection has to be done on the good sold here.” The unfortunate mess of the shops, which spread throughout the Bazaar widely for the last few years, must have caught their attention too that Kali continued her speech with complaints: “Specially those T-shirt shops! Only two years ago there were just carpet shops, but now you see a T-shirt shop between the two carpet shops and that spoils the whole view. In the end, these things !ike T-shirts can be sold somewhere else.” Her husband Ken agreed: “In the past, there was completeness with the carpets and antiques, but now you find T-shirts and cheap things which you can find outside, in other shops. This can kil! the tourists’ excitements.” By the way, Kali drew attention to an impoıtant issue, the European Union, which most of us hoped to happen, but perhaps could affect the future of the Bazaar in a negative way. “I think you shouldn’t !et the European Union enter here. Perhaps you are unaware but Turkey is so lucky because she has the freedom to eat and seli whatever she wants. For instance, you can not open up a kebab shop !ike the one we are sitting in right now, in Italy. Eveıything is limited with standards and those standards destı·oy the culture completely. People don’t know what will happen when the European Union comes, but that is why we love here. Because we feel ourselves more free here. Here, eveıything is more natural and we miss this so much in other places. When we are away from here, we literally get stomach aches!”
Our conversation was intermpted by laughs; as we kept on eating, Ken talked about his wife’s new project: “Kali is currently writing a cook book and most of the dishes are Turkish foods. Before, she didn’t !ike to cook but this has changed after we came to Turkey.” While we were laughing at her husband’s words, we continued to eat our meals with pleasure. Lastly, just !ike other foreigners we met, they couldn’t do without eritkizing some sellers’ aggressive attitudes. But afteıwards, regretting their criticism, they immediately added that they loved the place very much: “Actually there are such open and nice people here. You can get in a shop, sit for hours and chat only; for us this is something amazing.”
Ken ve Kali Marquardt