An Artful Conversation with Gamze Büyükkuşoğlu
Thanks to their collectorship tradition and their projects in support of art, Büyükkuşoğlu Family is always under the spotlight. As the founder of The Art Department and the director of the family collection, Gamze Büyükkuşoğlu is also a multi-tasking professional with formal education in the field. We talked to her about their ongoing projects at Casa dell’Arte and their newest enterprise in Lisbon.
How did Casa dell’Arte and The Art Department come into being? What are their mission and vision? The most important projects you have done so far?
To keep a long story short, Casa dell’Arte was founded in 2007 as a boutique art hotel in Bodrum to present Turkish art to the tourists, and where the guests would feel at home. On the other hand, in addition to its artist residency program organized every year at Casa dell’Arte, the Art Department is an institution aiming at giving support to those artists’ projects that do not fit into other institutions’ programs, as well as organizing education programs that make contemporary art a more accessible field.
I suppose your residency program is the only example of its kind in Turkey that is still active on a regular basis; what contributions do such programs have to the artists’ careers? What kind of opportunities do you offer to your resident artists?
Yes, 2018 is our seventh year. In the program, we host the artists for six weeks so that they can realize their projects in an environment of tranquility, away from the struggles of daily life. Our objective is to create a productive atmosphere that both allows them to interact with the local people and to exchange ideas with the other resident artists whenever they need to do so while concentrating on their own projects. We can’t always find this opportunity in the city. During the residency we take the artists to the must-see places in Bodrum. Bodrum Castle, Zeki Müren Museum and the Mausoleum are some of the sites we visit in every program. We also visit the studios of those artists based in Bodrum. In addition to the field trips, we also invite local and international curators, gallery directors and art critics to the program every year, with whom we organize 1-2-day long seminars and critiques. Of course these programs contribute to the artists’ careers in the sense that they can position themselves within the international art scene and make connections abroad; but the program’s main objective is to make sure the artist has an efficient period of production.
Who are this year’s participants? Any novelties in the program? Will they have an exhibition project as well?
This year’s participants are Ahmet Can Boyan, Dilara Arısoy, Rehan Miskçi, Gizem Ünlü and Emn Yu. As this is a program with an amateur’s spirit, the specific content varies depending on the participants’ professional profile.This year’s program is currently in the making.
How did your hotel and residency adventure in Lisbon begin? How is it going? How will its model be like in terms of the hotel / residency connection?
As Casa dell’Arte we have been longing for quite some time to open up to the international scene. We preferred Portugal thanks to its similarities to Turkey and its tourism-friendly climate. Starting from March, Casa dell’Arte Lisbon will be open to visitors both as Clubhouse and gallery. We will continue the residency with a particular sensitivity for individual artist projects. It will be a program with one or two-months duration for independent artists who want to take their practice abroad.
Are there any other residency programs you modelled yours based upon?
No 🙂 This program emerged out of the desire to work in a collective environment that enables idea exchange, and instead of establishing a structure from scratch, we responded to this desire by using the already existing facilities in Bodrum so that we could keep the program free of charge. Frankly, there was no example we could model ours upon since our conditions were very specific. There are a few programs abroad that we would like to collaborate with, to increase the international exposure of our artists that have previously joined the program.
The most interesting exhibition you have recently visited?
The most exciting exhibition I have recently seen is the Fureya Retrospective, to which we have also loaned an artwork from our collection. It was extended for a week but I wish it could have stayed longer.
The trips with a focus on art you have been planning for this year?
Madrid in February to visit my friends with the excuse of ARCO, Art Dubai in March that I will visit for the first time, ARCO Lisbon in May and Frieze New York if I can.
You have a BFA in Applied Arts. Do you still produce works? Will we see them in an exhibition one day?
Yes, I can’t think not doing it. It means a lot to me to be able to make something with my hands. I’m a little strict when it comes to assuming multiple roles; perhaps in the future.
You had several collaborations with Art50.net under the roof of Casa dell’Arte. Can we talk about how these exhibitions came into being? Plus, your ideas on the future of online art platforms?
Working with Art50.net has always been a pleasure, particularly since we have parallel objectives regarding young artists. I know their working principles and I trust them, so it’s a platform I refer the artists to without hesitation. Online art platforms are very precious with the way they render art accessible from everywhere and anytime; but their job is not easy, for they also have the responsibility to design a viewer experience equivalent to or even better than ‘real life’.
If you were to curate a selection of 10 artworks from Art50.net’s gallery, which ones would you pick? What would its title and conceptual framework be?
Since the beginning of 2018 I have had serious health issues. Migraine, a flu I can’t get rid of, and joint pain all compelled me to stay at home and to obsessively re-evaluate everything I eat, drink and touch with my body. And analysis makes you even more pessimistic; thus the selection might be slightly dystopian.
Aslı Dinç – Them
Ayşegül Karakaş – Relocation 2
Ege Dömez – Sefer Tası
Ahmet Rüstem Ekici – We Series No:2
Serenay Özen – Untitled
Karbon – After Dark My Sweet No 1
Saliha Yılmaz – Siyah Orkideli Kadın
Aslı Aydemir – Child Cellist
Taşkın Esin – QI
Kajal – Moving Again
First piece you acquired: Robert Montgomery – People You Love (2009)
The piece you would like to own the most:?
The type of art that intrigues you: All, but I have a weakness for painting.
The meaning of art for you: Let me steal the following from Louise Bourgeois: “Art is a guarantee of sanity”.