(Isabelle Wesselingh’s article appeared on Yahoo News, 8/5; via the Drudge Report.)

Istanbul (AFP) – Just a few years ago, Istanbul was one of the world's creative capitals, a buzzing hive where visual artists, writers and filmmakers mingled.

Today, the so-called Pearl of the Bosphorus has lost some of its artistic lustre.

A string of terror attacks, a tightening clamp on freedom of expression, an attempted military coup and a perception of rising social intolerance has seen the freewheeling mood replaced by a sense of fear and increasing isolation.

"It's really getting (to be) a tough place to live in, especially for artistic practices that need to exercise free speech," said Vasif Kortun, director of the SALT contemporary arts centre — a venue artists say still offers "breathing space" with its art cinema, workshops and multimedia resources.

But "our space is getting narrower and narrower," said one artist, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Society is also more aggressive."


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