Tülay German: Years of Fire and Cinders
by Didem Pekün

and a selection of Tülay German songs 
by Zehra

Screening & music at Motto's courtyard
Sunday, 25 June 2023, 7pm
Skalitzer Str. 68, 10997 Berlin

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I can never sing ‘Gloomy Sunday’ or ‘Strange Fruit‘ like Billie Holiday. It is not possible, I am not black. And I can never sing ‘Sous le ciel de Paris’ like Madame Juliette Greco. And Madame Juliette Greco can never sing a song by Karacaoğlan like I do. – Tülay German

We’d like to invite you to an evening dedicated to Turkish folk singer Tülay German. The event is organized in cooperation with Motto Berlin to benefit KAF Kolektif, a grassroots association providing basic needs for the people affected from the earthquake in the region of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey.

Tülay German was born 1935 in Istanbul, where she grew up in a middle-class family. She first became known as a jazz singer, and later, encouraged by her partner, composer and musician Erdem Buri, she became famous for her modern interpretations of Turkish folk songs and as one of the first Turkish singers performing Anatolian pop. Due to an increasingly hostile political climate in Turkey, the couple emigrated to Paris after the military coup from 1960. In France, Tülay German made a fresh start and again made a name for herself with numerous radio and TV broadcasts, live concerts, and collaborations with other famous musicians such as François Rabbath, İlhan Mimaroğlu, and Charles Mingus among others. German continues to live in Paris.

Ethnomusicologist and filmmaker Didem Pekün’s documentary Tülay German: Years of Fire and Cinders from 2010 traces the artist’s lifeline, weaving together her own and German’s voices into a reflection on past and present societal and political circumstances. Shot six years before yet another attempted coup in Turkey, which triggered dangerous unrest and another wave of political exiles, the film might appear, from today’s perspective, like a premonition come true. However, hope shines through German’s songs and her own words, heard in Pekün’s documentary: “Being free as individuals and as a society is the most important thing. I always looked towards tomorrow with hope, and am determined to never lose it until I die.”

The evening will be opened musically by Berlin-based record label ZEHRA who will play a selection of tracks from their 2022 remastered vinyl reissues of the two essential albums by German: her self-titled release from 1980 and her Hommage to Nazım Hikmet from 1982.

The event will be held in the courtyard of Motto. Please come early as capacity is limited.


We kindly ask for a minimum donation of €5 for the screening.
*We offer posters with motifs by artists Dorje de Burgh, Samuel Laurence Cunnane, Aleana Egan, Louise Hopkins, Seda Mimaroğlu, and Cecilia Szalkowicz. The posters can be purchased for €20 each.
*Tülay German records can be purchased from ZEHRA on site.

All proceeds will benefit KAF Kolektif.

Tülay German: Years of Fire and Cinders, 2010
Directors: Didem Pekün, Barış Doğrusöz
Producer: Didem Pekün
Script: Didem Pekün, Barış Doğrusöz
Language: Turkish/French/English
50 min

DIDEM PEKÜN (1978, Istanbul) is an artist-filmmaker and academic based in Istanbul and Berlin. Both in her education and her approach as an artist and educator, Didem’s work is marked by a combination of theory and practice. As such, parallel to her research she has made several films that tackle questions of political violence, displacement and their myriad intersections. A recent turn in her practice is from ‘history’ to ‘future’. Currently she is working on a feature film as well as a pedagogical platform both aiming to repair the future. Both practices, that of filmmaking and pedagogy, to her, has always been about becoming albeit ephemeral communities that are working together towards a goal. Whether in set filming, in a classroom, or in a garden, she is driven by work that liberates, work that thinks of liberation and the combination of the two is and has been her core motivation.
Pekün received her BA (Hons) Music from SOAS and holds an MA and an artistic research PhD from Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths. She has taught in several universities, including Bilgi, Sabancı, Koç and KadirHas Universities in Istanbul, Central European University in Budapest and guesting internationally from Oslo Art Academy to DAI Arnheim and the *foundationClass at Weissensee Kunsthochschule.
She has held a postdoc fellowship at Institute of Advanced Studies - CEU, a fellow at Visual Cultures - Goldsmiths, at Graduiertenschule - UdK Berlin, and currently is the recipient of Berlin Artistic Research Program funded by the Berlin Senate.

Image: Still from Tülay German: Years of Fire and Cinders, courtesy of the artist

We thank Didem Pekün (currently a fellow of The Berlin Artistic Research Grant Programme), Serkan Şanlı and Thomas Herbst of Zehra, Motto Berlin, and all the above named artists who shared the images for the posters.