Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Curtains Match Dark Green Carpet

Arts in Turkey. The challenge of modernity

The art scene in Istanbul has seen a boom in the decade just passed, from a handful of private galleries in over 200. But there is a price to pay for this rapid growth

The Tophane district in Istanbul is characterized by its bohemian character, yet ultra-modern. Tophane represents very well the cliché of Istanbul, with one foot in the West secular, liberal and one conservative Islam. In the '80s through the narrow streets and crumbling buildings of the late nineteenth century were occupied by immigrants of the Bosphorus. The area also attracted many artists - as Gülsün Karamustafa - particularly for economic rents.
About a decade ago Istanbul - and with it Tophane - began to change dramatically. The economy has grown and with it the art scene, the old buildings have been purchased and renovated. Some of them have been converted into art galleries and among these are the 10 most important galleries in Turkey on the international stage.
Gülsün, in his sixties, is now a star among the Turkish artists and exhibitions have been devoted throughout the world. He made his debut as a painter but now works mainly with video and short films.
But the development of Turkish art scene also has other implications. Last September, thirty armed extremists raided bars and knives in a convivial meeting organized some galleries Tophane. Some windows were destroyed and five people ended up in hospital. No one was arrested and police are still investigating the incident. A few steps from
Tophane is the Museum of Modern Art in Istanbul, built five years ago by one of the richest Turkish famigie Eczacibasis. He lives in private funding, like most of the arts in the country. Bankers and businessmen are the main sponsors, along with the collectors, the real protagonists of the art boom. Their main target is in fact buy their own contemporary art in Turkey. Istanbul Modern find a video of Gülsün, 'Memory of a Square'. The screen is divided into two parts on the one hand shows us scenes family life and secondly the contrasts of modern Turkey. Gülsün is working on a project for the British Council, funded by the European Community. He spends half his time abroad and love to travel. Several years ago, during a period of political instability has been arrested and his passport was withdrawn for 16 years. But everything started to change since the 90s with the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Istanbul, one of the most important international art events - sponsored by the greatest art patron of the country, the industrial group Koc. Gülsün was asked to exhibit at the Biennale of Turkey three times.
The auction house Sotheby's climbed on the bandwagon of art Contemporary Turkish dedicadogli last year its first auction. In this year-Fahr El Nissa Zeid has become the artist turkish by higher quotations, with sales of over $ 1 million. But what is the level ad
of contemporary Turkey? The editor supports Necsmi Sonmez but critical. Today the problem is not censorship but a character of "identity" in his opinion still too strong, which often slips into folklore. Sonmez also wonders what could be the independent contemporary art production, so bound up with private funding. "I do not know what are the salient features of contemporary Turkey. I am interested in rather an art that is global" - says the curator. Maybe Turkey now needs this, not an 'art' of identity ", but an 'art that deal with issues like the empowerment of women and homosexuality. Topics brave. Maybe too challenging for some.

- Adapted from "Modern art boom exposes Turkey's Tensions," By Rosie Goldsmith, BBC News, 30 October 2010


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