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  • Gohar Dashti, Home 4

    Art Fairs and Biennials in 2019: Overview

    The Most Important Art Events of 2019

    2019 is another year rich in art fairs and biennials. In addition to leading global fairs like Art Basel and Frieze, collectors tend to attend new and undiscovered art events particularly in Asia, Africa and South America. Art fairs highlighting those young and emerging talents that have no chance of visibility in mainstream art fairs and focusing on affordable art are also on the rise. Here is an overview of the most important art fairs of 2019:

    (Cover Photo: Raul de Nieves & Erik Zajaceskowski – Company Gallery, Frieze NY 2018. Photo: Mark Blower.)


  • Views on the 15th Istanbul Biennial

    İpek Yeğinsu

    The excitement for the 15th Istanbul biennial is everywhere. We asked Anna Zizlsperger, Huma Kabakcı, Mine Küçük and Ömer Özyürek, important figures in our art scene, their expectations from the event.


    Anna Zizlsperger (Exhibist, Founder)

    Anna Zizlsperger

    Anna Zizlsperger

    I am very excited about the upcoming 15th edition of the Istanbul Biennial. The local art scene needs the energy the biennial brings with it and I can feel how people are motivated and full of hope that the event will re-unite Turkey’s art scene with the rest of the world after all the terrible events of the past year. I think the curators did an amazing job at underlining the fact that now it is important, more than ever, to come to Turkey and create critical artistic discourse.


    Huma Kabakcı (Collector, Curator)

    Huma Kabakcı

    Huma Kabakcı

    When I heard that this edition of the biennial was going to be curated by Elmgreen and Dragset, I was thrilled; I immediately thought of ‘The Collectors’, the exhibition they co-curated at the Scandinavian and Danish pavilions of the 53rd Venice Biennial. I am sure this artist duo will impress the audience with their sense of humor and selection of artists around the theme ‘a good neighbor’.


    Mine Küçük (Education Professional, Museologist)

    Mine Küçük

    Mine Küçük

    As I am responsible for training the biennial guides, we have already begun to read about the featured artworks. I think the curators not only came up with a conceptual framework relevant for the present day but they also selected the artworks with utmost care. I expect the biennial to be easy to navigate and the viewers will enjoy it.


    Ömer Özyürek (Collector)

    Ömer Özyürek

    Ömer Özyürek

    With the theme ‘A Good Neighbour’, I expect the 15th Istanbul Biennial to examine the relationships between people, life and places, questioning the problems of our daily life, the liberties in individual, common and public spaces, and the presence or absence of reciprocal tolerance. I believe this biennial and other simultaneous art events will revive the art market that has been static since the last biennial, and will increase the enthusiasm for art that has recently been going down.

    To access more information about the 15th Istanbul Biennial, click here.

  • 15th Istanbul Biennial

    September 16 – November 12, 2017

    Notes from the 15th Istanbul Biennial press conference held on September 12, 2017:

    The 15th edition of the Istanbul Biennial will start on September 16, welcoming all art enthusiasts on a free entrance basis. Thanks to IKSV’s funding, 30 of the 56 participating artists produced new works for the biennial that is also celebrating its 30th anniversary. Referring to the biennial as “a liberal creative platform and a breathing space for artists and art enthusiasts alike”, Bülent Eczacıbaşı, the President of IKSV, added that their efforts were directed towards “creating the ideal conditions so that intercultural dialogues can emerge and cultures can freely interact”.

    Speaking on behalf of Koç Holding, the biennial’s main sponsor since 2007, the President Ömer M. Koç emphasized the biennial’s steady audience growth: “in the years our sponsorship started, the biennial’s audience was expressed in tens of thousands; but since 2013, also thanks to our growing support, it reached four hundred thousand”. He continued that, as Koç Group, they considered arts and culture to be one of the most important elements of social development, and touching upon the biennial’s theme, “A Good Neighbor”, he said: “We live in a world where borders become more and more questionable every day, and in difficult times marked by increased war and tension. What we currently need most is to listen more carefully to the language of art that takes its strength from culture and universal values”.

    ib press

    15th Istanbul Biennial press conference

    The curators Elmgreen and Dragset made important remarks on the biennial’s theme as well. The duo emphasized that people’s ways of living together were different from and much richer than the relations between the governments and politicians representing them. Referring to the example of Trump’s wall project at the Mexican border, they added that both Turkey and the world at large were going through difficult times in terms of neighboring relations. Explaining that the artists who produced new works for the biennial visited Istanbul several times and reacted to its architectural and sociocultural texture, the curators observed that most people went to their childhood memories when asked about who the good neighbor was, where they found the ultimate peace and security. Consequently, the works that emerged tackled less macro-level subjects, focusing on the artists’ personal life experiences.

    On the other hand, Zeyno Pekünlü, the Coordinator of Public Programs, approached the theme from a more ecological point of view. She focused on the marine life in the seas surrounding Istanbul, its stray animals and trees. Pekünlü made the exciting announcement that this year’s program not only featured seminars but also events such as cooking sessions and music workshops that would allow the participants to interact.

    15th Istanbul Biennial

    The most anticipated art event of this fall is surely the 15th Istanbul Biennial curated by the famous artistic duo Elgreem & Dragset, taking place between September 16 and November 12 with the theme ‘A Good Neighbour’. Referred to by Newsweek as ‘one of the top 5 exhibitions of 2017 worth travelling for’ and by NY Observer as ‘one of the top 10 global art events of 2017’ the event is going to be free entrance thanks to Koç Holding’s sponsorship.

    The Scandinavian curators Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset aim at studying how people with different identities and lifestyles approach belongingness and privacy departing from concepts of a good neighbour and home, with a particular emphasis on women and feminism. The international outdoor campaign that the biennial’s graphic designer Rupert Smyth realized in collaboration with the artists is also worthy of attention. The artworks exhibited on the billboards of cultural institutions from several countries in combination with 40 different questions on what a good neighbour is, examine the transformation the concepts of home and neighborhood went through all around the world. The biennial’s consulting committee is composed of Adriano Pedrosa, one of the event’s former curators, Curator Başak Şenova, Artist İnci Eviner, Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick and Curator Ute Meta Bauer.

    Elmgreen & Dragset. Fotoğraf: Ariel Reichman

    Elmgreen & Dragset. Photo: Ariel Reichman

    The biennial extends to 6 different venues, namely Istanbul Modern, Pera Museum, Galata Greek Primary School, Ark Kültür, Küçük Mustafa Paşa Hamam and Artist’s Collective Studio (an artist studio rearranged for the event). The participant list with 55 artists from 32 countries is equally exciting. The participants from Turkey show great variety: a master like Candeğer Furtun; the internationally renowned artists Burçak Bingöl, Volkan Arslan and Ali Taptık; the young and emerging Gözde İlkin and Alper Aydın; dancer and performer Tuğçe Tuna; Yoğunluk artist collective; and Erkan Özgen and Bilal Yılmaz, artists based in Turkey’s more peripheral locations.

    Candeğer Furtun, Suskunlar, 1987. Fotoğraf: Kikas World

    Candeğer Furtun, Suskunlar, 1987. Photo: Kikas World

    Yoğunluk-Axis Mundi, Adahan. Fotoğraf: Cemal Emden

    Yoğunluk-Axis Mundi, Adahan. Photo: Cemal Emden

    Erkan Özgen, First Untitled, 2012.

    Erkan Özgen, First Untitled, 2012.

    International highlights include Olaf Metzel with his sculptures and installations on public space; Monica Bonvicini with her multidimensional works on surveillance, power relations and gender, also known with her stairs in chains at Istanbul Modern and considered one of the artists with the best career performance of the last two decades; Louise Bourgeois, who became an icon in feminist art history with her sculpture, Mother; Berlinde De Bruyckere with her sculptures on human body, life and pain; Adel Abdessemed, questioning the notions of violence, terror and state with happenings around daily objects; and Xiao Yu, one of the rising stars of contemporary art in Asia.

    Olaf Metzel, Neues Museum Nuremberg sergisinden görünüm, 2015. Fotoğraf: Wentrup Gallery

    Olaf Metzel, Neues Museum Nuremberg sergisinden görünüm, 2015. Photo: Wentrup Gallery.

    Berlinde De Bruyckere, S.M.A.K. sergisinden, 2014. Fotoğraf: Dirk Pauwels.

    Berlinde De Bruyckere, S.M.A.K. sergisinden, 2014. Photo: Dirk Pauwels.

    Adel Abdessemed, One Life One Love One God, 2008. Fotoğraf David Zwirner Gallery.

    Adel Abdessemed, One Life One Love One God, 2008. Photo: David Zwirner Gallery.

    Xiao Yu, Cement Floor sergisinden. Fotoğraf: MutualArt.

    Xiao Yu, Cement Floor sergisinden. Photo: MutualArt.

    The public program under Zeyno Pekünlü’s coordination will offer the art enthusiasts an opportunity to participate to talks and workshops on the biennial’s common theme.

  • A Critical Look at the Concept of Progress with Doğukan Çiğdem

    Interview: İpek Yeğinsü

    Doğukan Çiğdem’s childlike, primitive characters point at the ridiculousness of humanity’s narcissistic admiration for itself and its civilization. They question how we get lost in the darkest tunnels of time with the illusion of dominating it. The artist poetically told his own story to us.


    How did your artistic venture begin?

    I had faith in the transfer at the very tip of the pyramid; my awareness emerged in my early twenties. I wasn’t supposed to keep it to myself. My paintings were supposed to flourish; I had already hit the road. My practicality allowed me to engage with a variety of materials; thus I began to carry the existing story into a diversity of forms.


    Did painting or fairy tales come first?

    Painting has always been there. Fairy tales, on the other hand, became a habit at the age of 15 once my reflex for taking notes emerged. I began to write my own short tales and then to illustrate them.


    Can you tell us about your conceptual approach?

    We’re able to evaluate pre-historic revolutions more objectively; their consequences had a less significant impact on us as individuals. That is why I prefer concentrating on the notion of progress of the last few centuries and I invite the viewers here as well. In my opinion, the only thing distinguishing some people from others is their ability to think on a daily basis, even only for two or three minutes. Since I discovered the power of forms in triggering questions, I have been trying to create question-like works at I believe are able to push people to think.

    Doğukan Çiğdem, Astral Travel, 2017.

    I’m wondering about your sources of inspiration…

    My main sources are human history, human vs. nature, human vs. human and nature vs. nature. In my paintings I try to emphasize the fact that time changes us and not the other way round.


    Your works bring archetypes and fantasy elements to mind. You have a connection with naïve and primitive arts, and it appears to be a critical attitude rather than a stylistic choice…

    You’re right; criticism is originated in how I manipulate aesthetics. An atmosphere of freedom brings authenticity as well, after all.


    Our present world is too analytical for many of us. Emotions are overshadowed by thoughts. The same holds for art as well. What would you like to say about this issue?

    The changing world turned intelligence into a must-have trait while it was only one of our many abilities. It was a mistake; organisms were reduced to simple mechanisms. As time went by, our emotional stomach shrank. As a result, we are currently too skinny.


    Can you describe your creative process?

    I can say that I sort of cocoon myself. I push my perception to the limit and I observe, I read. I find my inspiration both in literature and real life. You might guess that I experience no shortage of material supply whatsoever.

    Doğukan Çiğdem, Consultations, 2017.

    Contemporary artists you admire and regularly follow?

    I try to follow everyone that’s sincere; I actively engage in an effort to read the forms. The biggest role in interpreting a work of art belongs to the viewer; thus I don’t want to constrain myself by mentioning specific names. I foresee a work-viewer relationship where everyone looks at, reads, interprets everyone else and acts within that narrative.


    You also worked as a graphic designer. Do you continue to do so?

    I did some design-oriented, commercial projects in that area. I can’t say I have totally closed that page; I still keep experimenting and learning. But I think my place is rather in humor and literature magazines.


    How did your collaboration with Art50.net emerge? And your thoughts on online art platforms?

    I had assumed Art50.net was well equipped and open minded; I was right. I think online art platforms are a necessity but they have to be more selective and as soon as possible. In this sense, I see no alternative to Art50.net in this part of the world and I’m not alone in my impression.


    Your new projects in the nearest future?

    I will keep enriching myself with experimental media. I continue making tapestry, painting and sculpting. And I have a solo exhibition which will take place at Galeri Bu in December 2017.


    Click for the artist’s page.