• 2018_art50

    After 2018 in Contemporary Art

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    We are again leaving behind a year full of interesting exhibitions, sensational events and impressive records both in Turkey and in the world. As an annual Art50.net tradition, we asked some of the most distinguished members of our art community their top art events of the year and their expectations from 2019.


  • womansday

    Women’s Day Special

    Interviews: Irmak Özer | Translation: İpek Yeğinsü

    Although different sources assign dates to it varying within a 2-year range, the National Women’s Day emerging as a result of a riot in New York in 1908-1910 begins to be referred to in 1910 as March the 8th World Women’s Day, following the proposal of Clara Zetkin, a women’s rights activist from Denmark. In 1917, as the Soviet Russia gives women the right to vote, March the 8th becomes a national holiday, and finally, with the United Nations’ recognition of it as World Women’s Day in 1975, this important day ceases to be a celebration time for socialist and communist countries only and becomes a worldwide event, symbolizing the strikes, marches and struggles for electoral rights women have been organizing throughout history to defend their rights.

    March the 8th thus enters the global agenda as a day dedicated to the advocacy of women’s workers’ and electoral rights and is a reminder throughout March for women’s universal human rights, and it emerges as a period during which men and women come together under women’s leadership to reveal the economic and social status of women in various countries.

    Cover Image: International Women’s Day marchers in 1977. (Credit: Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

    As Art50.net, we dedicate this month to an interview series with 4 of our female artists whose works explore womanhood and freedom of women. Every week until the end of March a new interview with another artist of ours will be added to this page. We wish you enjoy reading them.

    March 22, 2018

    Ece Gauer: If It’s the Truth One Is Looking for, One Should Draw Inspiration from Those Who Know It

    Ece Gauer

    Ece Gauer


    In some belief systems there are young souls and there are old (wise) souls. Young souls try to discover the world; they run here and there, they are impatient, they try and fail, they sometimes hit the wall. The answers to the questions you ask them come swiftly; they seldom think too much. In time, life teaches them to take longer time to think.
    I don’t know Ece Gauer in person; I only have this interview, and her young age as a fact. Her works, her answers make me think that Ece Gauer is one of those old-and-wise souls that came back into the world. Gauer has navigated through many areas ranging from photography to fashion design, from cinema to her contemporary figurative works; she received education in various countries, drew inspiration from various cultures and shared her habitat with them. Yes, she tried a great many things, she changed her mind a great many times but she gave me the impression that she did all these with that depth in her. Her combining life and art, her painting with her “heart”, her reflecting her inner world to us through a combination of elements from various cultures…
    Read our interview with this young artist and decide for yourself, and don’t forget to follow her successful projects both in Turkey and abroad!

    I.Ö.: You were born in Turkey and you continue your artistic career in Germany. As we have already mentioned, your art carries the traces of both. I’m asking this in order to understand a bit better the sensation you provoke in your art; shall we interpret it as the reflection of an artistic purgatory, or a resident of the world’s fusion of cultures?

    E.G.: There have been times I myself thought of it as a purgatory but I can’t say so in my current point of view. I believe everything is part of a whole and related. Thus I’m all of them, neither in between them nor at somewhere precise. I’m simply on the road, focused on my discoveries and progress. And this is not specific to certain geographic regions, sometimes the floor tiles at a cafe in Italy draw my attention, or the patterns at a monastery in Nepal… symbols… If you ask me what triggers this, I would tell you what I read, experience and see.
    Of course, I tried to develop an authentic style with eastern symbols, motifs and literary elements that doesn’t ignore the indispensable rules of painting originating from the Western school of thought.


    Ece Gauer - Toprak Ol, Renk Renk Çiçekler Bitiresin

    Ece Gauer – Be a Loam, Flowers Can Grow on You

    I.Ö: In your paintings, we see the reflection of an influence of the orient into the figurative art of the occident. All your figures are of women, if I’m correct. Is there a particular reason why you place women at the center of this cultural intersection?

    E.G.: We can call it honesty. I’m trying to do what I know doing best. Searching oneself, discovering in my own journey and reminding myself of it while sharing it with others. To me, painting is an instrument of this journey, a word within a sentence. The woman has had an undeniable aesthetic place in art history, in fact, it was always considered an object by the art market that is usually dominated by a male hegemony, and was depicted as an aesthetic value. In our country, this situation is a bit different; in 1883, the School of Fine Arts did not accept female students. Male students were not too eager to apply either because in the Ottoman Empire, art was not fully embraced yet. In 1914, Inas School of Fine Arts was opened for women struggling for equal rights with men in art and under the leadership of Mihri Hanım, and this had a crucial role in the emergence of very valuable female artists dedicated to art in the history of Turkish art education.

    Everything is atually a whole; different cultures, distances and languages are sometimes intermingled within one single environment and reappear before us within an entirely new discourse. Art is the most universal language that allows this to take place.
    If we assume we live in a perceptual universe based on three dimensions and duality, what I do can be defined as taking all this as raw material, recombining them in the two-dimensional plane and reflecting them back on the surface. These are also manifest in color contrasts, big-small patterns, front vs. back and visible vs. invisible relationships. All motifs carry traces from every culture. Both symbols and motifs are crucial, they are a kind of language.

    If I finally go back to the place of women in art, woman is the creator, the fertile, the productive one… She is sensitive and delicate, gracious and love-oriented. The artists embodies all these things. Therefore, if a female artist can truly reflect herself that energy is unleashed and the duality disappears, art and woman become one.


    Ece Gauer - Aynadır Ten Can İçin

    Ece Gauer – Aynadır Ten Can İçin

    I.Ö.: In naming your woks at Art50.net you were inspired by Rumi. Can you tell us about the influence of Sufism and spiritualism on your art?

    E.G.: I can say this influence is all pervasive, both in terms of my life and my art. I can’t distinguish them from each other. Everything develops automatically, like breathing, knowing very well what you do but not standing on its way. When you paint with your heart, with all that sincerity, then the painting begins to guide you through. It’s like a journey, it doesn’t matter where you are going, what matters is enjoying the ride and proceeding. While the painting proceeds like this, its nutritional sources have to be as sincere and real. If it’s the truth one is looking for, one should draw inspiration from those who know it.

    I.Ö.: Your works have been exhibited in Germany, Turkey and France so far. We have seen on social media that you have recently been doing projects in Greece. What are your upcoming projects, where shall we expect to see you next?

    Yes. There have been numerous exhibitions in Latvia, France and Germany. Of course, I would like to be everywhere in the world… I visit Greece so often because the studios of Anna Tourla, a colleague with whom we did several exhibitions together, and her father Thimios Tourla, a successful church painter, are based there. He provides me with a lot of information on iconography and symbols, and I have the opportunity to directly assist his work. Who knows, an exhibition in Greece could happen in the near future…

    You may browse Ece Gauer’s works on Art50.net’s gallery here.


    March 15, 2018

    On Identities with Merve Dündar

    Merve Dündar

    Merve Dündar


    In late 18th century, Jeremy Bentham, a British philosopher, designs a prison building he refers to as the “panopticon”. Here the inmates can be observed by one person all at once (pan) from the tower placed in the middle of this circular building (opticon); thus the tower can see all the cells but those in the cells cannot see the one in the tower. Although it’s not feasible for one man to monitor all the cells simultaneously, this design causes the inmates to change their behavior with the impression that they can be monitored all the time. According to some, the term panopticon is inspired by Panoptes, a multi-eyed giant in Greek mythology… In 1975, French philosopher Michel Foucault claims that the idea of the panopticon is the origin of power and discipline in modern society. Put very simply, although in a modern society we’re not physically confined or chained somewhere, we comply with various rules and norms with the belief of being constantly watched by an invisible authority.

    In 1990s the Internet enters our lives, and first through simple operations, and then through ever increasing range of functions, it gradually begins to demand more and more information from us. Simple texting, social media where we share our work and leisure activities, writing word documents, internet banking we provide all our personal and private information with, listening to music, online television systems that record all our preferences, and much more is added to this list as we speak… Honestly, none of us really knows where we have ended up in this endless pit called the internet since the 90s. We now live in the “digital panopticon”, described by author Byung-Chul Han in his book and which inspires Merve Dündar the artist. Someone or even more people are watching us from a tower but we don’t know how often or when they do so, and we build ourselves some social lives and identities with this feeling of surveillance.

    According to Merve Dündar, we are volunteers for being watched. She reflects on this feeling of surveillance, the boundaries between the individual and the social self, existence through the eyes of the other, and the desire for visibility. And while doing so, she refers to literature and creates collages with poems divided into words, as the latter bring a sort of enlightenment to the feeling of imprisonment in the artist’s inner world…

    As part of our March Interview Series for Women’s Day, we talked to Merve Dündar about her series I and the Me, Biri Bizi Gözetliyor, my personal favorite, Nazar, her new exhibition and the idea of the woman’s self in her works.

    I.Ö.: Art enthusiasts in Istanbul will have the chance to see your works at an exhibition that opened earlier this month. Congratulations, first of all. The new exhibition features your word collages. And you have previously used words in your Nazar series. You say that your art in general questions the idea of the self… Do the words give you some sort of self-expressive power that’s not available through material means? Can you tell us how you went back to using words in your art after the Nazar series?

    M.D.: I use words as a medium to emphasize my visual forms and expressions. The work “Abyss” that was shown in the exhibition “Teşbihte Hata Olmaz” was like a continuation of the “Kelimeler” series shown at Tüyap. Kelimeler” consisted of those words I heard, read, assigned too much meaning to or none at all, and that moved me, that remained with me. They were works that I did during a troublesome, hopeless period of my life. I embarked on a venture in labelling my emotions, somehow to objectify my feelings and to liberate myself from this psychological state and this resulted in the works in the “Abyss” series that I can describe as the landscapes of my inner world. Nazar series, on the other hand, originate from Elif Şafak’s book “Mahrem” that I ready while I was working on the “Biri bizi gözetliyor” and “I and the Me” series. “İlmek”, the work currently on view has its departure point in İpek Duben’s “Manuscript” (1994) and Pablo Neruda’s “We Are Many”. It’s a collage composed of these poems’ verses.

    Merve Dündar, Biri Bizi Gözetliyor 2

    Merve Dündar, Biri Bizi Gözetliyor 2

    I.Ö.: In my view, I and the Me and Biri Bizi Gözetliyor series featured on art50.net have a lot of connections, a phenomenon also due to your individual experiences. You actually point to the paradoxes inside all of us… We gave our social identities, and our real identities. In fact, those social identities emerge out of our desire to see and to be seen, from that image we want to build. This issue became even harder to handle as social media entered our lives and its impact recently grew exponentially; many articles have been written on the influence of social media on people, pushing them to question themselves, to create lives for themselves that aren’t theirs just to feel sufficient. What are your thoughts on this issue? Did you think about these contemporary issues while creating your works?

    M.D.: These series actually began with one single word… Every year, the Oxford dictionary selects a word of the year. And in 2013, this was “Selfie”. Is a selfie an effort to be seen? Who’s the seen? Does the real identity remain hidden behind this struggle to be seen? While asking such questions, I became interested in the boundaries between the individual me and the social me, existence through the other, the desire to see and to be seen, and I began to read many books and articles on the subject. Today we are all being watched everywhere, either on social media or on the streets, as volunteers. We accept it because our visibility allows us to sense our existence. But this form of surveillance is also supported because it is compulsory for building a society of control. Within this framework, in his book “The Society of Transparency”, Byung-Chul Han finds a resemblance between social media and “digital panopticon”.

    I.Ö.: You first studied Economics and then continued into art. And your oeuvre is based on a variety of techniques including chiaro-scuro, oil, collages and sculpture. Can we argue that your art is maturing via a journey through various experiences like your life does?

    M.D.: I don’t know if it’s maturing but in one of his poems, Oruç Aruoba says, “the place is relative; what is absolute is the road, or walking…”. I too believe in being on the road, in trials, renewals, walks and being in a constant state of becoming.

    Merve Dündar, Backcover

    Merve Dündar, Backcover

    I.Ö.: And our final question is specific to our Women’s Day interview series… In your previous interviews, you said that you wouldn’t define yourself as a feminist, and that your female portraits emerged as a result of you being a woman and tackling subjects like the self and the identity. However, when asked about other artists of influence, you mentioned women like İnci Eviner, Selma Gürbüz and Louis Bourgeouis, artists that also focus on women and women’s issues… Although you don’t prefer a positive sexual discrimination, can we say that a woman can question her identity without questioning the position of women at large, also considering the situation in the country and the world order at large? 

    M.D.: It’s impossible to remain indifferent to, to ignore the injustice of this world order. In her interview the other day, Neriman Polat talked about the “masculine mind”. I assume all of us, man or woman, have to become aware of the things imposed on us by the masculine mind. We have to get rid of its language that we use without realizing it. We have a long way to go for a world without discrimination but it’s not impossible.

    You may browse Merve Dündar’s works on Art50.net’s gallery here.


    March 8, 2018

    Aslı Kutluay: Our Coming to the World Is an Existential Story

    Aslı Kutluay

    Aslı Kutluay


    The second artist of our interview series on womanhood and women’s freedom is Aslı Kutluay, one of the Art50.net artists who focus on women’s issues, and who, as a lovely coincidence, also happens to have done an exhibition at Cer Modern especially for March the 8th.

    Aslı Kutluay believes in nature, healing and a positive outlook on life. In her paintings, she sometimes takes women out of the spaces they are stuck in and lets them fly, and at other times, she depicts women in love who become spices growing in the city, healing others.

    We talked to Aslı Kutluay about her sources of inspiration including music, architecture and literature, and her upcoming project that will bring art and science together this time.

    I.Ö.: In one of your exhibitions you were inspired by the songs you love, and in another we saw architectural details and installations… You draw artistic inspiration from several different areas; what are your main sources of inspiration in life and artistic practice alike?

    A.K.: I see our coming to the world as an existential story and our creations as a reflection of the values we have in life. We go through constant change. We already change body and dimension every seven years. This is why my sources of influence and my creations are very diverse. As I’m a woman, I’m inspired by other women’s typologies, travelling, the sketches I make during these trips, science, sport, and all branches of art. Purification and developing a position against injustice inflicted on our planet and humanity through overconsumption are my main inspirational drives…

    Aslı Kutluay, Evde Doğa Sevgisi

    Aslı Kutluay, Nature Love at Home

    I.Ö.: In the series you have developed for Art50.net, you depict yourself as a woman who had enough with traffic and boring environments, running away and floating in the air. In your “Melting Point” exhibition, you used to say “dreams have set sail”, and “I wish we could fly or blossom now…”. Is it possible for us to argue that the essence of the stories in your exhibitions and artworks are similar? Can we interpret that essence as a quest for tranquillity, return to nature, and relief?

    A.K.: Yes, in this capitalist consumerist economy I observe that people are enslaved by the objects that they produce or own. If I have come to this world in such an epoch and in this very dimension, I think this must be by life’s lesson as the subject I care about the most, and I believe I have to draw people’s attention to the issue of purification and relief.

    Aslı Kutluay, Deri Değiştirme

    Aslı Kutluay, Skin Changing

    I.Ö.: Then there is the other exhibition of yours titled “88 Spices”, that appears to have a story similar to the one I mentioned in my earlier question… You refer to the event as an exhibition that you have spiced up with pleasant, healing flavors to help us leave sad national and global events behind and where you depict women in love with love itself. There is “A Touch of Spice”, the film by Tassos Boulmetis; it tells the story of a love affair cut short by politics and life’s different stages with different flavors just like spices; but the film doesn’t end as expected… Do the women in your world eventually manage to heal? What’s the place of women in your oeuvre?

    A.K.: My entire philosophy of life is based on optimism. The world is a purification, a dimension where the soul reaches maturity. I approach our life experiences as a “sketchbook”. In our sketches there might be certain quests, revelations, confessions, struggles in vain or even mistakes. But when taken as a whole there’s always improvement, justice, absolute healing and maturity. We can’t see it when we’re so close to the events. We have to observe it all from a distance.

    I.Ö.: Finally, you announced that this year you would participate to a special event for World Women’s Day. Can you tell us more about it?

    I and my mother Assoc. Prof. Ayten Sinman who is a nuclear physicist will be hosted by the Dutch Embassy for Pınar Ayhan’s Documentary Musical. In 1975, my parents worked at FOM Institute of Nuclear Physics in Amsterdam on the project REB or “Relativistic Electron Beam” for a year. Nuclear fusion is a clean and sustainable form of energy without waste product. By 2050 it will replace oil. And my story is actually shaped around that, as I spent a lot of time at futuristic labs as a child thus the design aspect of science and ecological awareness must have drawn my attention… In May I’m planning to develop this project further and to do an exhibition at my own studio, based on my own artistic interpretation, with the documents, electronic and mechanic objects I collected from their lab.

    Aslı Kutluay

    Aslı Kutluay

    As our current diplomatic relations with the Netherlands are not that great, we artists, thinkers, writers and scientists have a big responsibility in fostering a creative and peaceful dialogue.

    You may browse Aslı Kutluay’s works on Art50.net’s gallery here.


    March 1st, 2018

    Özlem Paker (OZ): We’ve Come Here as Such, We Will Live as Such

    Özlem Paker

    Özlem Paker


    There are some artists from a single work of whom we can understand their message to the world.
    When I saw this one work by Özlem Paker Oz as a person deeply interested in issues like womanhood and women’s rights, I immediately understood that I wanted to see more from her, and that I would love what I would see. I thought of it as a form of telepathy specific to women, a special kind of mutual understanding…

    Özlem Paker says “the body, the memory and the soul belong to their owner”, “We don’t need your labels”, and “Let us be us”. She explores the female energy, the nature of the female body, fertility and existence; she uses various techniques in her art to express these issues. We had a short conversation with the artist who is based in Los Angeles about the theme of women in her oeuvre and her artistic practice.

    I.Ö.: In your exhibition ‘In the State of Ecstacy’ from 2012 you refused to be owned, managed and labelled by others, you resisted being used as a political tool, and you said “We’re here, out in the open, you better go and educate your eyes”. What do you mean by this?

    Ö.P.: With her body, mind and structure, woman is a part of nature. By definition, she is different from the dominant male species. And as she’s empath, multidimensional, oversensitive and weak in violence, she has been subject to oppression and exploitation by the dominant species since the end of the matriarchal societies. What is more, in conservative societies like ours, you aren’t respected except for motherhood. At this point, we need serious revolutions to change these old thinking patterns. My method of preference in my works, on the other hand, is not to rebel against somebody or act hysterically but to turn to myself and to reveal our forms of existence in awe. A woman’s body, hair, leg, genitalia, her sway, her dance, her choice of profession, her choice of giving birth, her freedom of expression etc. are completely specific to her nature; I say “We’ve come here as such, and we will live as such”.

    I.Ö.: Your figurative works generally focus on womanhood. Looking at the current situation, we actually can say that we have come to this point where we should be able to say much more also considering the conjuncture… Will you continue making works women’s rights?

    Ö.P.: Nowadays, women’s problems are not particularly acute. To the contrary, we have come a long way and much more swiftly compared to the past. Women all over the world have a higher level of awareness and take initiative more often to claim their power. The dominant male group realizing this, on the other hand, sees that the future is not as bright (for their own balances of power), so they become increasingly oppressive, or even resort to extreme methods at times. The upset in the balance of power pushes them to react in extreme ways and even to become violent. However, the female species does not work that way; she’s capable of going higher and becoming stronger regardless of how many blows she takes. Because in our essence we have giving birth, upbringing, affection, healing and sharing. I believe we will be successful once we turn all this into power through women’s solidarity. Of course, this is a long-term struggle and requires strategic action. As I already mentioned, there has been a breaking point following the matriarchal societies and in every period after that, women remain on the side of the oppressed masses, with her strongest qualities being referred to as her weaknesses. I’ve been aware of these issues as long as I can remember and gave them serious thought and shaped my life accordingly. My main theme has been this since I entered the art academy. Yes, I continue working on the subject, because being a woman, I find it very natural to express womanhood and I consider it my responsibility.

    Özlem Paker, Bitmeyen Yolculuk 12

    Özlem Paker, Endless Journey 12


    I.Ö: Who are the most influential female artists and writers to you? Whom should we read or follow to understand your work?

    Ö.P.: Virginia Wolf, Maya Angelou, Rosa Luxemburg, Barbara Kruger, Martha Rosler and many more. It’s important to follow the Feminist thinkers, writers and activists, we have a lot to learn from them all.

    I.Ö: You’re a multidisciplinary artist experimenting with a variety of techniques including video, photography, architectural installations and collages. Is there a special reason why you avoid commitment to a certain medium? What kind of works do you produce these days?

    Ö.P: I grew up with various artistic fields; I became involved and was educated in dance, singing, theatre, performance, visual arts and interior architecture to differing degrees. Multimedia was eventually born and so I was able to combine them all. For me, every new project is a journey into discovering and creating myself from scratch, and with every new journey I feel enhanced. In short, interdisciplinary work enriches the oeuvre. These days I’m working on a few pieces from my most recent Perpetual Voyage series. Here I focus on women’s struggle for survival as well and I emphasize that life is in itself an enormous struggle under any circumstances.

    Özlem Paker, Body Expressions Serisi - Double Hımmm 01

    Özlem Paker, Body Expressions Series – Double Hımmm 01

    I.Ö.: Especially when I saw your work “Double Hımmm” for the first time, it touched me immediately. I thought that as a woman, I immediately got the message you wanted to give, and that I even made it my own through my own biographic experience. What is your message to your potential female collectors?

    Ö.P.: I always say that ‘Art is therapy’. In choosing a particular work, we feel closer to the one that we subconsciously feel will provide us with it. We also want to connect with the artist’s mind and soul, to see the world through his eyes and to feel it through his soul. I noticed that for me, this was easier to achieve through humor; when irony, simplicity and thought-provokingness combine, you reach your audience much more easily and establish a much more sincere communication. My works Hımmm, Aaaah and O-oooh are part of the ‘Bodial Expressions’ series. Minimal but strong works where I combine facial expression with body language, and which I name expressively and where I emphasize we must make peace with our bodies. Double Hımmm, on the other hand, points to the importance of tranquillity in any kind of relationship. And this feeling of tranquillity is very therapeutic for the viewer.

    You may browse Özlem Paker’s works on Art50.net’s gallery here.

  • GamzeBüyükkuşoğlu

    An Artful Conversation with Gamze Büyükkuşoğlu

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü, Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu

    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.

    Casa dell’Arte konuk sanatçı programından

    Casa dell’Arte residency program – Mahmut Aydın


    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.

    Lizbon Casa dell’Arte Clubhouse

    Lisbon Casa dell’Arte Clubhouse

    Lizbon Casa dell’Arte Clubhouse

    Lisbon Casa dell’Arte Clubhouse


    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’.

    Ayşegül Karakaş

    Ayşegül Karakaş


    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

    Aslı Dinç, Them, 2015.

    Aslı Dinç, Them, 2015.


    Ayşegül Karakaş – Relocation 2

    Ayşegül Karakaş, Yer Değiştirme 2, tuval üzerine yağlıboya, 2012.

    Ayşegül Karakaş, Relocation 2, 2012.


    Ege Dömez – Sefer Tası

    Ege Dömez, Sefer Tası

    Ege Dömez, Sefer Tası, 2015.


    Ahmet Rüstem Ekici – We Series No:2

    ahmet rüstem ekici

    Ahmet Rüstem Ekici, We Series 2, 2017.


    Serenay Özen – Untitled

    Serenay Özen, İsimsiz, kağıt üzerine mürekkepli kalem, 2011.

    Serenay Özen, Untitled, 2011.


    Karbon – After Dark My Sweet No 1

    After Dark My Sweet No 1

    Karbon, After Dark My Sweet No 1, 2014.


    Saliha Yılmaz – Siyah Orkideli Kadın

    Saliha Yılmaz - Siyah Orkideli Kadın

    Saliha Yılmaz, Siyah Orkideli Kadın, 2016.


    Aslı Aydemir – Child Cellist

    Aslı Aydemir, Çocuk Çellist / Güzelleme Serisi, porselen mavi-beyaz biblolar, epoksi ve beton, 2016.

    Aslı Aydemir, Child Cellist, 2016.


    Taşkın Esin – QI

    Taşkın Esin, QI, Projeksiyon mapping, 2016.

    Taşkın Esin, QI, Projeksiyon mapping, 2016.


    Kajal – Moving Again

    Kajal, Moving Again, 2017.

    Kajal, Moving Again, 2017.



    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”.


  • 2016 Evaluations and 2017 Predictions from the Art Circles

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    As we say goodbye to 2016, we asked important names from our art circles, Banu Çarmıklı, Gamze Büyükkuşoğlu, Ahu Büyükkuşoğlu Serter and Sevil Dolmacı, about their 2016 evaluations and expectations from 2017.


    Banu Çarmıklı

    Banu Çarmıklı:

    The art event of the year in Turkey and the world?

    For Turkey, it was the cancellation of Art International art fair. Followed with excitement internationally, the fair had increased the country’s international recognition but it was unfortunate that it had to be cancelled due to critical events.

    To talk about a positive development, the acquisition of Hüseyin Alptekin’s work by MoMA for their permanent collection is a great success. This happened as a result of long efforts. Other important developments for the Turkish art scene include the acquisition of Şükran Moral’s work by Poland Contemporary Art Museum, Halil Altındere’s growing visibility in Berlin Biennale and other international exhibitions.



    Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin’s work ‘H-Fact: Hospitality/Hostility’ that entered the collection of MoMA. Photo: AA


    In the world, the public exhibition of David Bowie’s collection and its appearance at the Sotheby’s auction were exciting.


    Highlights from international fairs?

    Fairs like Frieze Art Fair and Art Basel are star events known to all.

    Instead I would like to answer this question with a few exhibitions that left a mark on me with their innovative and rich content. This year, New York was quite dynamic. Cornelia Parker’s large scale, site-specific installation exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum’s roof was spectacular. The wrk inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings offered a unique experince with a view of manhattan and Central Park.

    Programme Name: imagine...DANGER! Cornelia Parker - TX: 14/07/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with Parker's creation, 'Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)'. Alan Yentob, Cornelia Parker - (C) BBC - Photographer: Screengrab

    Cornelia Parker’s installation ‘Transitional Object (PsychoBarn)’ exhibited at the NY Metropolitan Museum as part of thye Name: imagine…DANGER! program. Alan Yentob, Cornelia Parker – (C) BBC – Photo: Screengrab


    Another exhibition I can mention is “Keeper”, taken place at the New Museum in New York. It was an enchanting research and archive selection about the protection, preservation and archiving of artworks, ojects and visual materials.



    Ahu Büyükkuşoğlu Serter

    Ahu Büyükkuşoğlu Serter & Gamze Büyükkuşoğlu:

    The art event of the year, in Turkey and in the world? The most exciting developments in contemporary art you are looking forward to for 2017?

    Last year, art experts had a neutral attitude towards 2016. The political changes, terrorism, the coup attempt and other events caused 2016 to be a difficult and static year for the art market, both for Turkey and other countries. Thus it would be more appropriate to evaluate 2016 not with a single art event but with a general overview of the efforts to keep the art market on its feet.

    The newly opening galleries generated hope in the overall negative atmosphere. Although the market continues to remain at a stamelate, it was very positive to see the galleries supported each other in these difficult times. Istanbul Gallery Weekend jointly organized by Turkey’s leading galleries, Mamut Art Project and other projects like Young, New, Different that aim at supporting and promoting young artists, the new spaces of Dirimart and Gaia in Dolapdere were all sources of hope for 2017. Art International’s cancellation initially generated anxiety but this year, Contemporary Istanbul was a platform for efforts to revive art as a festival-like event, a new alternative; the first edition of  Collector’s Stories was met with great public enthusiasm.


    General view from Collectors’ Stories exhibition. CI 16 archive.

    GALATA Business Angels of which we are a member collaborated with Contemporary Istanbul to realize its art & entrepreneurship project for the first time and promoted the  gerçekleştirdik art-related start-ups.

    In addition we can also say that online and virtual platforms with affordable artworks also saw an increase this year. The introduction and integration of art more persistently into our daily lives, be it in shopping malls, restaurants or billboards, the increase in the number of online exhibitions, were also more widely seen in 2016. Having art around us even under these negative circumstances was among the elements that gave us strength.

    Looking at the world we see that the USA, UK and China were the leaders in terms of art market performance. Although the attendance figures of the leading fairs like Art Basel and Frieze organized in these countries decreased, there was not a drastic fall in sales figures compared to previous years. Although the audience shrank, the market remained steady, and this is exciting in addition to a growing interest in young, emerging, undiscovered and underappreciated artists and recently produced artworks all over the world.

    We were more excited with emerging artists and art rather than large and generic art fairs; we will keep on supporting young art by continuing our artist residency program this year as well.

    We wish all art enthusiasts a much better 2017 full of art.



    Sevil Dolmacı

    Sevil Dolmacı

    The art event of the year? Which art forms, media and approaches will be on the rise in 2017? The most promising artists of 2017?

    The highlight of 2016 for Turkish art is the news that the works of Fahrelnissa Zeid, one of the leading figures in Modern art, will meet audiences at Tate Modern as well as in other three important European museums. This means international visibility for Turkish art in the ‘real’ sense of the word.


    Adrian Ghenie in front of his oeuvre. Source: WideWalls

    As in 2016, 2017 will see a growing popularity of making a new statement on traditional canvas. Partially expressionist, partially realist styles where thick layers of paint are dominant wil continue to remain popular. One of the best examples is provided by Adrian Ghenie’s style; he is a young Romanian artist born in 1977 whose work was sold at Sotheby’s at 2.59 million dollars and he became a global center of attention with his sunflowers. Another current trend is reinterpreting historical portraits and/or seminal paintings with thick layers of paint and with an expressionist style. Realist tendencies are generally a rising trend. Artists like Kehinde Wiley, Taner Ceylan, Tigran Tsitoghdzyan are in global circulation.

    As the promising artist of 2017, my favorite would be Elif Tutka, whom I believe will have a breakthrough and with whom I had a chance to work. she has already made it into large collections and her solo exhibition will be realized under the sponsorship of a corporate structure.

  • On Art Management Education and Career with Mehmet Üstünipek

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Mehmet Üstünipek is a graduate of  Mimar Sinan University Department of Archaeology and Art History.  Completing his Master’s and Ph.D. at the Department of Western and Contemporary Art, Üstünipek wrote his thesis on “Turkish Art Market Since the Republican Era”. As the author of various publications on art institutions, exhibitions and Turkish Contemporary Art, he has been teaching at İstanbul Kültür University (İKÜ) since 2006. We asked him about art management education.


    Can you describe the two terms, Artistic Director and Art Director, which are very often confused? 

    Artistic Director is the person who presents the artwork, the artistic performance and the artist to the society as culturally/intellectually as well as economically most effectively as possible. To do this he or she designs, plans, developsand directs an exhibition, an art event or the content of an art institution; he or she establishes the most effective communication with the artists, art supporters and both the existing and the targeted audiences. He or she closely monitors the artists, art institutions, activities and publications. On the other hand, the Art Director awho works for advertising agencies or in TV-film sectors is mainly responsible for making sure the visual quality and the content overlap. Universities’ Art Management departments aim at educating Artistic Directors; not Art Directors.


    As the Chair of İstanbul Kültür University Department of Art Management, can you explain how this department came into being at your school and how it is structured?

    It was established in 2002 by scholars with a theater origin. Thus the curriculum heavily featured courses like Dramatic Improvisation, Dance Improvisation,  Fencing, Roleplay and Mimic. In time, these disappeared as a result of changes in the program. It is expected that an Art Director is familiar with and understands the production and application processes in art; he or she is no expected to be an artist. Thus, in 2010, as part of the Bologna program the curriculum was updated with a greater emphasis on management courses. But as a response to the feedback received from the sector, the students and the alumni as well as our own observations, other rearrangments were required and a new plan was implemented for the 2016-2017 academic year. Here we aimed at making sure that components like management, sponsorship, design, promotion etc could be handled within the art management’s practice-based framework (project-content development, planning and management).



    In which fields can the graduates of Art Management programs work in? What would be your advice for current students in terms of carrier planning?

    The alumni can work in museums, art galleries, auction houses, art fair companies, theater companies, art departments of local governments, art associations and foundations, art portals and art departments of publishing houses. They can work in any rank within festival and biennial management, collection management, curatorial work, art criticism and art organization. Those who aim at an academic career can take Master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Throughout their eduation, the students shall follow all the vents and publications in their field, try to get to know the art circles better, keep their curiosity alive and develop their related computer and language skills.



    İstanbul Kültür University (İKÜ)

    How would you compare the art management programs in Turkey and abroad?

    The introduction of art management into education curriculum dates back to the 1970s. However, in Turkey this only began in 1980 with Yıldız Technical University. This is due to the post-80 developments in art sector. Programs differ from one university to another. There are programs that exclusively focus on performance arts, or on curatorial and museum studies, or both. As the understanding of this field is relatively poor in Turkey and there is a serious shortage of qualified scholars in the field, problems arise in building curriculum and content. For instance, YÖK (Higher Education Council) has still not defined Art Management as a main discipline at the Assistant Professor level. Moreover, the universities offering these programs do not communicate between themselves. It is necessary that the field’s problems are accurately defined for discussion and solution, to achieve a coherent education in it.


    To what extent do the growing interest in contemporary art in Turkey and the development of art museums affect education programs?

    As I said, the post-1980 emergence of the at market, with the artwork acquiring an investment value, and the emergence of Istanbul as a strong candidate for a global art center were all effective in the birth of this field as a higher education department. Global developments, new technologies, new artistic ways of expession also call for new solution designsin the field as well as new opportunities. Many young artists create wors and try to find a place in the art world… Art management programs hmust offer a curriculum aiming at designing new solutions and monitoring opportunities in the field. Especially in addition to the contributions of active professionals and connections with people and institutions in the sector, the education should involve the following of contemporary art events and museums.


    What would you say about the evolution of art management in Turkey? Do you think it is correctly positioned?

    Both in academic environment and professional life, concepts like artistic director and curator are still poorly understood and ill positioned. The blurry definitions present in all fields in Turkey regarding concepts and professional boundaries are present, even to a greater extent, in the Art Management field as well.

  • On Identity Lab and Workshops as an Artistic Practice with Swedish Artist Liv Strand

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    İstanbul hosted the Identity Lab Sessions in May 20-21 at the Swedish Consulate, DEPO and Galata Greek School. Co-curated by Naz Cuguoğlu and Susanne Ewerlöf, it featured workshops, video screenings and panel discussions featuring te artists Joana Kohen, Katarina Pirak Sikku, Liv Strand and Lisa Torell from Sweden and Nancy Atakan, Fikret Atay, Elmas Deniz, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Ferhat Özgür, Ceren Saner, Can Sungu and Hasan Özgür Top from Turkey. We interviewed the artist Liv Strand on Identity Lab’i and her featured workshop.


    How did you become part of this Identity Lab Project?

    I met Susanne Ewerlöf a bit more than a year ago and then we decided that I should make an exhibition at her venue in Norrköping in Sweden. There I worked with the notion of nation-state as a structural problematic, and then there is this word that is newly in use that was invented in the 70s. It became popular again in 2013. It is like a third-person pronoun; not a he, not a she, it is ungendered but still a person. It is used in the queer community but it also began to be used in dealing with equality. Someone wrote a children’s book using this, because you don’t always want to say if the protagonist is a boy or a girl. Then it became highly debated; even some newspapers began to write in this format, and it is also discussed that you can write laws with it, because they are often formulated with “he”, you often have the male example within all these languages. In almost all languages you attribute gender to the person you have as an example. It is not that we have to do away with the “he” or the “she” but sometimes you can do that. For example, when talking about someone who committed a crime and you don’t want to give away the identity, it works. So this word being to debated put some extra light on how the nation-state is also a construction that we go along with. If we understood it in another way, it could be something else; now it is so much based on borders, one people, one ethnicity, and all these issues cause a lot of problems. Even in Sweden we have this problem of indigenous populations. So I was coming out of this exhibition when the Identity Lab project started to form. Then I also met Naz Cuguoğlu at that point. She and Susanne encouraged me to submit a proposal for the project.

    What was your workshop about?

    It was called “Subject to Erring”; “erring” means wondering around and not really knowing where you are going. You’re not lost but you don’t need to be found either. So I asked the participants to write a text about when they felt that their own identity became very obvious for them. Identity Lab examines identity in relation to place, so I thought it was interesting to try and become aware of when we become unfamiliar to a place because of our identities. I asked the participants to write either about a memory of when this happened or also an imaginary scenario of it. I like organizing these workshops where the participant gives something quite personal before the structure of the workshop sets itself.  Out of everybody being a bit vulnerable in the beginning, it becomes a very allowing setting and you feel more empathy for each other. And also people will come with very different understandings of it and it widens the space of discussions. This was how it began but some people came without preparation and started to make excuses. And I said I didn’t want to hear their excuses but I asked them to listen to the other people there and improvise.

    Did you have an output from this workshop in the form of a publication or an exhibition? What was the main purpose?

    No. The nice thing about Identity Lab is that it does not look for an outcome; it looks for having a discussion and meeting with people, like in the two journeys we did to Jokkmokk in Sweden and Batman in Turkey. Identity is such a wide door; it is also nice to allow for it to be diverse and ambiguous. I don’t think we will have one outcome; my workshop was more part of that setting of reading together, discussing together. The workshop discussion also consisted of trying and naming all the identities the participants could come up with and that they felt were part of them. Because you are of course not just one of them; I’m a woman, an artist, becoming middle-aged, etc.  You are a lot of things at the same time so we tried to list many things together and discuss them.

    Do you plan to conduct this workshop in other parts of the world?

    Why not? But if I did it independently from Identity Lab I would pose the question more tightly around the nation-state; it is a very strong sense of belonging that we have or that we don’t think that we have, that we feel uncomfortable within. You may also choose to be a stateless citizen; but it is not a functional option. I will continue to work on this topic and I think the workshops are a very interesting artistic practice.

    liv perfor

    Liv Strand, Textile Location, 2014, performance

    Have you been to Istanbul before? If yes, do you observe any transformations in the city?

    Twenty years ago I came here to attend one of the biennials. I was still an art student. It is a tough question, because it is a very long time span and I myself have changed as well. I was very young and had a different mindset. The setting is very different. But now I feel that people establish less contact with me, but it might also be due to the fact that I am much older now and it perhaps feels more offensive to do it. I sense some kind of difference but I also sense that the city’s more modern, more like a typical European city where you have more accessibility via public transport, via subway, tram, etc. During my first visit it was more difficult to navigate in the city without having to ask people about the instructions. This also happened in other countries of Europe. Still, here I feel like a stranger and going to Batman was also the same. I cannot sense the artists’ and writers’ concerns visually, in the city. On the streets, life continues.

    What do you think about the Swedish mainstream media’s position regarding migration and migrant communities and all that is happening currently in the Middle East including Turkey?

    This last year’s change has been very interesting. This issue of people from Africa, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan crossing the Mediterranean in boats, risking death, has been reported for several years. This has been discussed a lot and empathy has been very high in the media for a long time. But then early this autumn, suddenly the Swedish government began to say that they welcomed every refugee, with strong support from the civil society as well. This was reported a lot in the media and Sweden took around 150,000 refugees last year. But then in late autumn, suddenly, the racist party in the parliament began to affect the vocabulary in the media although they are not the governing party. Some channels began to report that too many immigrants were coming and that Sweden could not give them a roof without the system breaking down. It became a threat the racist party jumped on. Then Sweden began to selectively close the border, checking everybody’s ID and not taking the ones without papers. The number decreased from 2,000 a day to around 1,000 a week. So the Swedish attitude has been fluctuating. Now the government policy is more pro-EU.


    Liv Strand, Anatomy of Confinement, 2015, installation

    Do you think art can change the world?

    For me art is a very good place to have a platform of discussion, much better than mainstream media, because the latter is very highly politicized. I hope art can bring more complex discussions in society. As an artist you can focus on one specific case and deepen your understanding within that subject; it can be very subjective and it is ok. I also think that art cannot change the system that we live in. The systems are political, so politics have to be made. Artists are individual subjects; they don’t have mass force. Art can empower people; more people are ware about things that will affect the political systems at the end. So art has a role in the change but it can’t be a massive, overgeneralized force; it better remains subjective and independent. My utopian wish would be that more people become genuinely interested in art.

  • Conversation with Ayşegül Yazıcı

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Plato Art Space has an important place in the Turkish contemporary art scene. We had a pleasant conversation with the institution’s Artistic Director Ayşegül Yazıcı, receiving public acclaim with the exhibitions prepared with the curator Marcus Graf.

    Why was Plato Art Space established? In which disciplines does the school offer educational programs? How did the idea of organizing exhibitions at Plato emerge? Plato Art Space has a mission that is different from commercial galleries. Can you explain this mission?

    At a school offering professional training, our point of departure was to have Plato Art space situated in the most strategic point of the campus, at its core. Students passing through it at least once every day while going to their classes, was going to transform our gallery into a ‘compulsory classroom’. I can say that while founding Plato we aimed at turning artistic encounters into one of the main components of education and ‘installing it into the subconscious’. Today, as Plato College of Higher Education we offer education programs in Media, Design and Communication to around 4000 students. This is not a low number and even this fact alone illustrates the importance of Plato Art’s location within the campus. Another objective of ours in creating Plato’s exhibition program was to surpass the mediocre level of exhibitions we encounter at educational institutions, to offer ‘cult’ exhibitions to our audience. And I believe we were successful in doing so. The reactions we received during the installation phases of the exhibitions and in its aftermath as well as the variety of these reactions are particularly pleasant for me, because seeing that our work reaches an audience and receives a reaction proves that the gallery is alive. As years passed, we observed students that became curious in time and then wanted to create art after a while, who had initially expressed prejudice towards the artworks. As we install more exhibitions the frequency of such cases increases. It is an amazing feeling for me to come across some former students at the exhibition openings who had never been involved with an artistic activity during their high school years!

    Your first exhibition?

    Our first exhibition at Plato Art Space was Postcapital Archive 1989-2001 by the Catalan artist Daniel Garcia Andujar under the curatorship of Başak Şenova. The exhibition consisted of a digital archive composed of over 250,000 documents including texts, audio files and videos the artist collected from the Internet throughout the past decade and designed as a multimedia installation and open source database. Postcapital examined the social, political, economic and cultural transformations of the last twenty years around two crucial events, namely the 1989 Collapse of the Berlin Wall and 2001 September 11 attacks. The exhibition’s spatial design was also extremely daring. It was a successful opening.

    How does it feel to work with Marcus Graf? How does your exhibition planning process work? The near future projects you want to realize at Plato?

    We started to work with Marcus Graf in 2011 after our first two exhibitions. Working with Marcus is a very pacifying feeling, both as a dedicated colleague and a friend. For Marcus is not only a great specialist but is also a curator well adapted to Turkey’s conditions and realities, to a surprising extent for a foreigner. We went through many crises together due to the difficulties of being in Balat and our campus structure; there have been many interventions to our gallery space throughout the years; we expanded, we shrank, we sometimes had to prepare exhibitions under the smell of the food at the school’s cafeteria but he resisted all these with me, with his all-time cold-blooded and disciplined attitude. We managed to keep Plato Art space alive. I will always be thankful to him. It is also very enjoyable to talk with him about life, our collections and our children. Sometimes I feel like working in the fashion sector when working on our exhibitions. While we finalize one exhibition we already know at least two of the upcoming projects. Like having the winter collection ready while looking at the summer collection! We have 4 annual exhibitions; we organize artist talks and exhibition tours in between exhibition openings. Our three exhibitions that start in May and consecutively continue until end of the year were designed in a conceptually linked series format. As Plato we love the idea of exhibition series; we also practiced it in our Knowledge Series and Portfolio Series. Towards the end of the year we will focus on our International Artist Residency program which we organize once every few years. We will also have another surprise project in October.

    Which sources do you draw inspiration from as a collector? Which publications do you follow? Which biennials and art fairs do you visit?

    Believe me, it would take pages for me to answer this question! But as an outline I can say the following; I am very curious in general, also with the impact of my graphic design background; that is why I have an incredibly wide array of sources for inspiration. But from a schematic point of view, the sources that bring me from one to another proceed as: graphic design-design-contemporary art-architecture-literature. As I start from one edge I come out from another, diving into a competely different corridor and this cycle does not change easily. Every month I buy 3 books around these topics and I maintain this discipline even when I’m on the road. I never miss the local art fairs, both as a visitor and an exhibitior, and I try to visit at least 2 international art fairs every year.

    Ayşegül Yazıcı 2x

    Your late father Behruz Çinici is one of the most important Turkish architects. How did your close relationship to architecture affect your artistic viewpoint?

    It is very valuable that you ask me this question; thank you very much for your sensitivity. My late father was an outstanding physical evidence for me; I lived and learnt how life and art were intertwined thanks to him. During my childhood our office was downstairs from our home and we were like a big family with all the architects and designers working at the Çinici Architects office. The intense work going on until 8 pm always ended with music (often with my father’s tanbur performances) and it resumed at 2 am in discipline until the early morning after my mother’s soups. My father also had close relations with the statesmen of that period thanks to the projects he realized around the country; I personally witnessed how they came to our house and to our invitations, establishing close and friendly relations with the artists. After such a childhood I notice that I love organizing big gatherings as well and I try to know better the artists that I work with. The feeling of spatiality, on the other hand, follows me with intensity everywhere I go; it is so intense that it can also become a torture, because badly designed buildings, bad urbanization, lack of scale, walking in terrible city squares hardly looking like one because of the fly-like statues installed in them, affect me very negatively. Unfortunately, in saying all this I also described the city we live in. Even in my simplest vacations I occasionally left a location I disliked as a physical space, annoying my company. In my own work this is probably the aspect through which I make our team suffer the most; the installation of the artworks in the gallery space and how they complement each other with the space are the most sensitive points for me.

    What are your most important criteria in deciding your collection acquisitions? Did you delineate limits for your collection with a specific technique, theme or chronological framework?

    I enjoy looking more closely at the artist as a person, spending time together with him or her and visiting his or her studio. The importance of this increased for me over the years. My collection basically has two subsections; the classic family heritage (that I try to support with new acquisitions) and the young, contemporary artists that I have been collecting more intensely in the last 8 years. Acquisitions were proceeding at a similar pace but these days, due to my work the emphasis shifted towards the young, local and contemporary artists. In terms of technique and style I look for the greatest variety possible.

    In your opinion, what is the must of a good collection? What would be your advice to the newly beginning collectors?

    Lately I have been reading an amazing book: “Collecting For Love, Money and More” (E. Wagner/ T. W. Wagner). Our curatorial assistant Melike Bayık’s gift… Departing from the title of this book and omitting ‘Money’ from the list of ingredients I can say the following: I cannot keep investment at the core of my collectorship. For me, passion, love at first sight and being in love with the work are the top priorities, which is very personal. As the investment axis changes like stock exchange and I am extremely skeptical about it, I believe my collection will become static if I select my acquisitions in accordance with this aspect. Once you really begin to collect -like an addict- your hands begin to shake in front of the artworks that trigger you; at least this is what happens to me… My advice to the beginners comes from my heart: begin by discovering the young talents of our own soil! Try to learn the international art scene more slowly, digesting it. We have incredible talents that deserve a support.

    How did you learn about Art50.net?

    A few years ago thanks to Marcus Graf, and started following it. As one of the tens of students of Marcus started working with us as well as Art50.net I naturally became more familiar with it. But I had already been carefully following the exhibitions they organized at Casa dell’Arte as a Bodrum summer dweller.

  • On Ardan Özmenoğlu’s “Made in Istanbul” Exhibition in Germany

    Interview: Huma Kabakcı

    Ardan Özmenoğlu, an artist who successfully represents Turkey in the international art scene with her exciting oeuvre is Art50.net’s guest this time… Interviewed by Huma Kabakcı, another beloved guest, she talks about various subjects ranging from her art to her solo exhibition “made in Istanbul”, to be inaugurated soon in Germany.


    You received your BFA & MFA degrees from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Bilkent University and you have a strong background inarchitecture. How did your studies affect your later artistic practice, your areas of interest and choices of media?

    I’d been using Post-It® notes for the duration of both studies… I don’t think it is because of my studies, it is mostly for who I am. If you are an artist you are who you are. I’ve been always practicing different things, interesting things, being imaginative. I do create pieces of art that unite seemingly opposing ideas: the past and the present, art history and contemporary art trends, creativity and consumerism, repetition and individuality, the whole and the fragmented. I unite the centuries-old practice of printing with modern colors, glitters, paper and images. My brightly colored, bold art, enables the viewer to consider everyday objects and ideas in a different light. The result of my work is predicting the whole from pieces, supplying an undetermined dimension, keeping the attention, anything but a different point of view. The spectrum of vision between my oeuvre and the viewer is complex, ranging from the largely irrelevant to the highly specific.


    In your artistic practice over the years you have been experimenting with a wide range of media such as large-scale glass sculptures, works on Post-It® notes and neon lighting including site-specific screen print installations. How did the works on Post-It® notes come about?

    The foundation of my art derives from the idea of repetition as it investigates the process of image consumption, history, and permanence in relation to mass production, ritual, and psychological states. The Post-It® note works all started with the idea “what if”. “What if” is the seed of breath-taking, creative works. In the Post-it notes I subject images to reproduction on that most ubiquitous yet disposable of modern conveniences. Social commentary enters into the experience as the images eventually curl and fall away like so many autumn leaves.


    One of the first works of yours that I encountered was your Post-It® installation titled ‘Without a Rose’ (2008), which had historical, oriental significance as well as material and textural elements to it. Did this installation have an affect on your later artworks and practice? If so, how?

    Every work that I’ve and I will produce will always have an effect on my practice. When you look closely to my works you can see their strong connections to each other. It’s like a web page; anytime you click on a link new windows open.


     Tell me why and when you started to work with neon? Was it roughly around the same time as the Post-It® notes?

    I started to work with neon during my residency in Berlin. This was two years after the post-it paintings. I don’t want to limit myself to anything. I’m always looking for a kind of concentration: the concentration of the artwork, the liveliness of process.


    Six years ago a selection of your work was exhibited at the Osthaus Museum Hagen as a part of the “Huma Kabakci Collection” exhibition along with others. How does it feel to have your first solo exhibition at this very place six years after? How do you think your body of work changed since then?

    It’s the same old story; you start doing something, and find that it presents lots of possibilities. I make art because it is my way of life, my balance and my being.


    The title of the exhibition is “Made in Istanbul”, and without doubt there is a play to belonging and origin and production. What can you say about this in the context of the works shown in the museum now? For instance, the moving machines are very much inspired by New York and not Istanbul.

    The title of the exhibition “Made in Istanbul” refers to the works but it can also refer to the artist. It consists of the Artist’s adventures, ideas and the her ways of  living. This exhibition’s creation process is physically and psychologically quite demanding but it is also a big love for me. I have a very disciplined way of working in my studio and I believe that is a quality that every successful artist should have. I know that at the end of every exhibition, the works of art that I produced derive from the excellence of this process. And talent is a secret pray.



    Does not exist, 2013, white neon lights and mirrors, courtesy of the artist


    You cleverly use everyday elements in your artistic practice that consolidate seemingly opposing ideas. Despite the fact that you explore with materiality and recyclable objects your ideas keep changing over time. Can you talk a bit more about your practice, your decision-making process and what approach you use while producing new bodies of work?

    On the one hand I become excited at making art that ask questions and adds another dimension to daily experience, but on the other hand I’d rather keep those big questions as simple as possible. And in fact my answer lies very subtle in your own question. I believe that every new work that I produce carries the same uniqueness despite the change in context. Post-it notes are always going to be a part of my artwork. Just like these special papers can stick to everywhere, they have also remained stuck to me. But of course I didn’t detach myself from other media and materials. One point that intrigues the viewers about my work is the harmony of ‘the idea’ along with the technique and material I use.


    You are almost a global, visiting various cities, museums, art fairs, biennials every year. Examining your works like “ Sex, Kebab & Art Basel” or “Cumaya Gittim Gelicem”, they all are local implications in a global context. Is that your interest?

    Dan Graham once said; “The only way to fully understand artists is to know what music they listen to”. And I totally agree with him.


    You have worked between cities such as İstanbul, Berlin and New York; which city do you see yourself belong to?

    I love New York, I always miss Istanbul and Berlin is my favourite. And, I belong to Art.


    In relation to the sociopolitical commentary, the playful images, products and ideas you portray can you talk about this silk-screening process and how it compliments your ideas?

    Once a painting catches your eye, there is a heightened connection between you and the work, a special focus. I’m always looking for that kind of concentration: the concentration of painting, the liveliness of process. During the silk-screen printing process on hundreds of post-it notes attached to the canvas, each post-it note behaves differently allowing for it to be a texture, a three-dimensional depth and a play between surface and colour.


    Post-It® notes were generally made for temporality- attaching notes to documents or surfaces, and then eventually being discarded. I want to talk about temporality in relation to your practice and also its significance in relation to this idea of moving around cities. What role does temporality play in your body of work?

    Think of music, you can listen to it on headphones while you walk, or in a museum. It’s the same song, different experience. Both experiences are important. I feel the same way about my work. There is no ideal way to view the work, each way is important. I hope my work is significant enough to stand on its own in any context. That’s what I’m trying to do. I love seeing the work in different ways, different cities, different places and therefore, it changes every time.


    Following the exhibition at the Osthaus Museum Hagen, where do you see yourself in the next five years? Do you think that this exhibition will have a significant impact in the evolvement of your works and practice?

    When we talk about the future we become so naïve- whatever we say is not going to happen, so whatever happens is beyond whatever we can imagine. It is so crazy. The most beautiful thing that ever happened in my life was by coincidence and not by plan.


    Exhibition Info

    Dates: 15 April – 5 June 2016
    Location: Hagen Osthaus Museum, Museumsplatz 1, Hochstr. 73 58095 Hagen, Germany


    Cover image: Coffeetime, 2014, Mixed media on Post-it papers, courtesy of the artist

  • On Life, Art and Politics with Barbara Polla

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Barbara Polla is an amazing personality: gallerist, curator, medical doctor, politician and the mother of four daughters. We had a great conversation with Polla about her multidisciplinary career, her Analix Forever project and her world view.

    How and why did you decide to become an art professional after such a glorious medical/research career?

    I like to explore as many fields as possible and art is a fascinating one, covering all the others, and a fascinating tool for thought, understanding, and possibly improving the world…
    Can you tell us how Analix Forever came into being? How would you describe its mission and vision?

    Analix Forever came into being by passion for art. Its mission has definitively been, in the first ten years, to discover and promote young talents. With some great success: Analix Forever did the first shows outside of their own country for artists such as Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin, Maurizio Cattelan, Mat Collishaw, Martin Creed, and has been an open platform for many Italian artists. By today, Analix Forever has been showing the works of more than 700 artists. It is now working intensely with a dozen of artists, still discovering talents but also working with established artists, curating exhibitions for them, writing about them, thinking with them. One of the missions of Analix is to create interactions: between the artists themselves and between artists and curators, art historians, philosophers, writers, institutions…

    What strategies do you recommend to emerging artists in their search for effective gallery representation?
    They should work and create and do what they are up to. They should not invest too much energy in finding a gallery.
    Effective gallery representation will follow the quality and perseverance of the work.
    Your experience at the Contemporary Istanbul art fair? Are there any galleries or artists in the Turkish art scene that are particularly interesting for you?
    I am very interested in Turkey overall. It is a very important country, especially nowadays, at the frontiers between occident and orient, modernity and tradition, democracy and religion. I have been working for many years now with Ali Kazma and have learnt a lot about Turkish artists thanks to him. I am also close to Hüsamettin Koçan and the Baksı Museum. Furthermore, I have had the privilege to cooperate with the Büyükkuşoğlu family on their artist residencies, and lately they have concentrated on young Turkish artists, which provides me with an incredible insight into that scene. I have been showing last year at the Contemporary Istanbul art fair a special project about « Art & Imprisonment » – together again with the Büyükkuşoğlu family – and will come back this year with a completely different project – too early to tell. I am amazed that the fair is also a place for special projects; this is quite rare!
    Are you an art collector yourself? If so, what are your priorities in making your acquisition decisions? In your opinion, what are the criteria for building a good art collection?
    I am not a collector. Some people say you cannot be a good gallerist if you are not also a collector… but my joy is to see the work, to show it, to share… to accompany the collectors in their choices. Collectors who are essentially investors are not much following Analix Forever, rather collectors with whom I may share my passion for the artists and the artworks. I feel that the collectors in general know what they want, what they are looking for, what they love, and don’t need much advice from me. They rather expect that I show them great works: this is the best advice I can give…
    You are a multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-dimensional character simultaneously involved in art, politics and medicine. How do these disciplines that seem so unrelated at first sight come together to create synergy in your life? How do your medical background and political career affect your curatorial approach?
    The reason why I have been able to do explore these different fields is that they are actually all linked. To simplify, medicine is about the human body, art about the human soul, and politics about the human live-together.
    Considering your wide range of areas of interest, does time management ever become an issue for you? How do you cope, and so successfully, with so many roles at the same time?
    Time management is an art by itself. I have actually at a time given seminars for time management. It is all about taking into account your true priorities. Knowing what is most important to you and make sure you book enough time in your agenda for it. And even if your priority is personal life, or love time, or children or sport or whatever, even if it is not work, BOOK IT IN YOUR AGENDA.
    As a planet we are going through very difficult times: climate change, violence and terrorism, migration, economic crisis, etc. As a politician, what do you think the future holds? Where do you see the solution? What do you think about the future of global contemporary art? Which regions of the world do you expect to see taking over the dominant axis both in terms of art market volume and quality?

    First, I am not sure these times are more difficult than others in the past. I think they are more obviously troubled times because we communicate so much more – which provides us with a better insight to humanity, but an insight we have not been prepared to assume. Second, in terms of the future, having no ability to predict it, I like Alan Kay’s parabole: «  The best way to predict the future is to construct it » . So let’s do our best, each of us with our own means. The artists by creating art, we by promoting it, collectors by buying it, and all of us by looking, thinking, loving. About the art market, I am not enough of an expert to foresee the dominant axis to come. Anyway, I feel the art market is just a very small part of the arts. It’s feeding art somehow, therefore it is important, but it should never – and will never – take over the arts themselves.

    Cover Photo: Steeve luncker Gomez

  • On 2015 with Three Curators


    We have left 2015 behind us as a very busy year in art. We have asked three different curators with various projects from our art scene about their selections of the past year’s highlights, ranging from art fairs to exhibitions, from biennials to artist talks.

    Necmi Sönmez, Josef Albers Museum Bottrop

    Dr. Necmi Sönmez, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop



    Exhibition of the Year

    Nazım Hikmet Richard Dikbaş’s exhibition titled “All Day and All of the Night” at Karşı Sanat Çalışmaları. While Nazım continues his  investigations in a variety of techniques, he manages to transform his conceptual concentrations by inventing new forms of imagery, and without falling into the trap called repetition.

    Artist of the Year

    Cengiz Çekil whom we lost in November 10 2015 was a “hidden” artist, relatively less well known in Turkish Contemporary Art in spite of his extraordinary work of over forty years; although he managed to examine Turkey’s recent history through imagery, his works were unknown. The artist whose works were acquired by important collections including MoMA and Guggenheim, is amongst the names with the most interesting experimentations in his generation.

    Museum of the Year

    Josef Albers Museum. This small museum in Bottrop in Germany presents works by the Bauhaus artists Anni and Josef Albers as well as interesting temporary exhibitions. Here I have recently visited a comprehensive retrospective by Walker Evans.

    Art Phenomenon of the Year

    “SANAT HAYAT” book series by Ali Altun, published by İletişim. With its high quality and highly responsible level, this series with 37 crucially important books  is a “mind-opener”, something that we have been looking for for a very long time in Turkey. “Sanatın İktidarı” authored by Ali Artun himself was published in early December.



    Naz Cuguoğlu


    Exhibition of the Year

    For me, this year’s mindblowing exhibition was Şahin Kaygun’s show at Istanbul Modern. While interdisciplinarity is still an upcoming notion in Turkey, the artist’s experimental and layered interventions on photographs pushing technical boundaries,  and his Polaroids as a debut for Turkey carried the viewers to the edges of consciousness in the exhibition’s dark atmosphere, in harmony with the political depression of the 80s.

    Artist of the Year

    Signs of Time artist group, composed of Huo Rf, Sena, Sabo, Burak Ata and Ecem Yüksel, young artists that always excite me with what they do. The members of the collective whose organic structure open to collaboration,  dialogue and discussion I find very valuable and necessary especially under contemporary conditions, realized their third and most recent exhibition “Cross the Earth, Her Head is in the Balcony” at Pi Artworks.

    Museum of the Year

    Baksı Museum. Founded by Prof. Dr. Hüsamettin Koçan and located in the Bayraktar village of the city of Bayburt, the museum is a lesson for all of us on how a contemporary museum can be more embracing and didactic, with its projects aimed at reverse migration, with its support for the education of the local women and children and women’s employment, as well as its design, art and culture initiatives and its exhibitions combining the traditional with the contemporary.

    Art Phenomenon of the Year

    The launching of the Aziz Nesin Art Village, coordinated by Işın Önol. In the art village, students aged between 17 and 21 without access to the learning conditions  they need within the existing education system, participated to lectures and workshops on ‘critical thinking and idea generation’ as part of a two-week pilot program. Reaching out to the youth at such an early age and the combination of theoretical lectures with practical skills such as presentation and portfolio preparation under the supervision of prominent education professionals is a priceless initiative for Turkish art scene. I look forward to its continuation.


    Ebru Yetiskin - Photo 1

    Ebru Yetişkin


    Exhibition of the Year

    “Moving Image #2” by Prizma (Lara Kamhi and Eli Kasavi), for it surrounded the human being with imagery and sound thus integrating him into a singular world, and for rendering accessible those  tendencies that transform the cinematic into the physical via the use of site-specific structure, sound installation and visual narrative. The spatial experience “Water Soul” by the Yoğunluk initiative was also worthy of seeing.

    Artist of the Year
    Bager Akbay. His work titled “The Pitiful Story of Deniz Yılmaz” that we exhibited at Contemporary Istanbul Plugin New Media Section, turned the concepts of today’s artist, artwork and viewer upside down. Designing a robot that writes poetry and curating a social media identity for it, Akbay allowed us to observe the processes of the currently dominant artificial stupidity, through Deniz Yılmaz who believes that publishing or selling his or her poems will bring him/her fame.
    Museum of the Year
    This year both Pera Museum and Sabancı Museum organized interesting events.
    Pera Museum’s video art exhibition and the panel program as well as the outdoor installation by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett were worthy of attention. “Zero” exhibition at Sabancı Museum was very well organized and informative, particularly for those who become recently familiar with contemporary art.
    Art Phenomenon of the Year
    In my opinion having AKM (Ataturk Cultural Center) still closed is one of this year’s phenomena.  Also Emin Alper’s film “Abluka” was one of the highlights of 2015; it was awarded at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, the sound and music design of which belonged to Cevdet Erek just as Cenker Kökten’s “Sivas” of the previous year that was also awarded in Venice.


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