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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Istanbul

Turkey

Current Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Pedro Gómez-Egaña, Islands at Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul
11 September–8 December 2019 Pedro Gómez-Egaña Islands Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul
Contemporary art exhibition, Isaac Chong Wai, I Made a Boat in Prison–A Journey to the Shore at Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul
11 September–8 December 2019 Isaac Chong Wai I Made a Boat in Prison–A Journey to the Shore Zilberman Gallery, Project Space, Istanbul

Galleries In Istanbul

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Institutions

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16th Istanbul Biennial Collapses Culture-Nature Divide Ocula Report 16th Istanbul Biennial Collapses Culture-Nature Divide 20 Sep 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

At the opening of the 16th Istanbul Biennial, The Seventh Continent (14 September–10 November 2019), curator Nicolas Bourriaud began his introduction with a clip from Werner Herzog's 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo, the story of a man who moves a steamship up a hill in the process of fulfilling a fantasy to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle. The...

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Contemporary Istanbul: Open for business Ocula Report Contemporary Istanbul: Open for business 29 Sep 2018 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

On the surface, it's business as usual on the streets of Istanbul, not to mention the halls of the city's art fair, Contemporary Istanbul (CI)—despite the massive depreciation of Turkey's Lira in 2018, which has seen its value against the US dollar drop nearly 40 percent.1 The currency crash has been blamed on US sanctions, tariffs on Turkish...

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A Pinch with Salt: A Report from the 14th Istanbul Biennial Ocula Report A Pinch with Salt: A Report from the 14th Istanbul Biennial 22 Sep 2015 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

My first impression of the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms, was that its curator (or 'drafter'), Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (CCB), must dislike her audience. If this is indeed the case, it would be a terrible shame for the Istanbul Biennial and its visitors, but worse still for its artists, all of whom thankfully have...

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Mad Times: A Report from ArtInternational 2015 Ocula Report Mad Times: A Report from ArtInternational 2015 18 Sep 2015 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

According to a report by The Art Newspaper, this year's edition of ArtInternational (which opened in Istanbul on 05 September) opened one day later and ran one day shorter because of sustained pressure from the 14th Istanbul Biennial curator, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. It was reported that Bakargiev had made "no secret of her displeasure...

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Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev Ocula Conversation Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev Curator, Author and Researcher, Istanbul

In this Ocula Conversation, curator, author and researcher Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev talks about the 14th Istanbul Biennial: SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms (5 September-1 November 2015). This conversation considers the title of the Biennial, and the themes being addressed, and for what purposes. Christov-Bakargiev describes some of...

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Sevda Elgiz Ocula Conversation Sevda Elgiz Co-founder, Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul

In 2001, Sevda and Can Elgiz founded the Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum. Their mission was to support emerging artists by providing them with a space to show experimental art. As new art institutions opened in the wake of their initiative, the Elgiz' decided their personal collection was vast enough to justify converting the space into a private...

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Jannis Kounellis Ocula Conversation Jannis Kounellis Artist, Greece & Italy

Born in Greece, but living in Italy since 1956, Kounellis has been a major figure in contemporary art for over fifty years. The artist is often referred to as one of the forefathers of the Arte Povera movement – a movement that arose in the 1960s and played a central role in redefining artistic practice with radical and highly original...

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Dyala Nusseibeh Ocula Conversation Dyala Nusseibeh Fair Director, ArtInternational, Istanbul

Dyala Nusseibeh is the fair director of Istanbul’s new international contemporary art fair, ArtInternational.  Despite opening in a country recently wracked by protest, and notwithstanding litigation and a subsequent last minute change of name, the fair had a successful debut. Running from 16 to 18 September 2013, ArtInternational...

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Picturing Ai Weiwei in Istanbul Related Press Picturing Ai Weiwei in Istanbul Hyperallergic : 5 January 2018

In an era where superstar Chinese artist Ai Weiwei feels ubiquitous, this past summer I experienced the full extent of that reality over the course of two months. After attending a New York preview for his new film about migrants, Human Flow (2017), I traveled to Israel to visit a major exhibition of his work at the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem,...

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The Istanbul Biennial Examines the Tricky Question of What Makes a “Good Neighbor” Related Press The Istanbul Biennial Examines the Tricky Question of What Makes a “Good Neighbor” Hyperallergic : 31 October 2017

In the months leading up to the 15th edition of the Istanbul Biennial, posters — hung in windows alongside 'For Rent' signs and pasted next to broadsides advertising concerts began asking the city's residents some very personal questions:Is a good neighbor someone you rarely see? Is a good neighbor richer or poorer than you? Is a good...

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In Conversation With Elmgreem & Dragset Related Press In Conversation With Elmgreem & Dragset Bazaar : 15 September 2017

The Danish-Norwegian artist duo have been challenging notions of power through their multidisciplinary work since they first emerged in 1995. They've now taken on the curation of this year's Istanbul Biennial. Maria Marques speaks to them in Istanbul.In the winter of 2012, an unusual figure joined the austere statues in London's Trafalgar Square....

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Elmgreen & Dragset reveal details of the Istanbul Biennial Related Press Elmgreen & Dragset reveal details of the Istanbul Biennial The Art Newspaper : 16 June 2017

The high-profile Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, who took part in Art Basel's Conversation programme earlier this week, revealed to us more details of the 15th Istanbul Biennial, which they are organising. The exhibition will feature 30 new commissions and works by ten Turkish artists out of a total of 57. A full list of artists...

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Contemporary Istanbul raided by Islamist group Related Press Contemporary Istanbul raided by Islamist group ArtAsiaPacific : 4 November 2016

On the evening of November 3, the 11th edition of the Contemporary Istanbul art fair at the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center was stormed by an Islamist group angered by the depiction of the last Ottoman sultan, Abdulhamid II, in an artwork by Ali Elmacı at the booth of Chilean gallery Isabel Croxatto. The group demanded the removal of the...

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Sharjah Biennial announces cross-national programming for thirteenth edition Related Press Sharjah Biennial announces cross-national programming for thirteenth edition Artforum : 16 October 2016

To be curated by Christine Tohmé, the thirteenth edition of the Sharjah Biennial will span five cities—Beirut, Dakar, Istanbul, Ramallah, and Sharjah—for a year of programming.

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Art and instability in Istanbul Related Press Art and instability in Istanbul Apollo Magazine : 27 June 2016

Anyone who witnessed Istanbul’s rise as a cosmopolitan hub over the past decade will notice the stark change that has come over it this year. Three suicide bomb attacks in the past six months have cast a pall over the city, as well as striking a blow to its already struggling contemporary art scene.Official statistics showed a 28 per cent...

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Fourth edition of Art International in Istanbul is postponed Related Press Fourth edition of Art International in Istanbul is postponed The Art Newspaper : 27 April 2016

The organisers of Art International, the Istanbul-based contemporary art fair, have decided to postpone this year’s edition, which was scheduled to take place this autumn (23-25 September) at the Haliç Congress Centre on the banks of the Golden Horn.“The fair is on hold until we can put together something all the stakeholders and...

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Recent Events

About Istanbul

Outside of its rich and complex history within the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is widely known for its art, particularly through the art fair Contemporary Istanbul and the Istanbul Biennial, both of which prove the city as a major art hub not only in the far past, but also for contemporary art today.

Istanbul Modern is Turkey's first private museum of modern and contemporary art and was opened in 2004. Istanbul Modern places emphasis on artists from the region. Such artists include Hoca Ali Rıza, Nurullah Berk, Nedim Günsür, Omer Uluç, and Canan Tolon, amongst others. The museum's permanent collection also includes renowned international artists such as Adrián Villar Rojas and Olafur Eliasson. Past exhibitions range from a retrospective on Erol Akyavaş to a group exhibition on love and politics featuring Alessandro Pessoli, Hiraki Sawa, Boyd Webb, and Saskia Olde Wolbers. In addition to the permanent collection and temporary exhibition spaces, there is also a photography gallery, video area, library, and cinema. For galleries, a highly recommended area to explore is Karaköy neighbourhood of the city, where you can find artSümer.

A modern art museum, but much more research-informed, Salt Beyoğlu is equally known for its programming as its exhibitions. The museum has another locationin Istanbul called Salt Galata, dedicated to workshops, research, exhibitions, and conferences. Focused on visual and material culture, Salt Beyoğlu's exhibitions have included research-based, Eurasia-focused collective Slavs and Tatars' first mid-career survey. The not-for-profit art centre Arter is a contemporary art space opened in 2010; its inaugural exhibition was titled Starter and ambitiously exhibited more than 160 works by 87 artists.

For older works visit the Pera Museum's permanent collection, which consists of four sections: Orientalist paintings, Anatolian weights and measuresy, Kütahya tiles and ceramics, and photography. The impressive photography collection covers the 19th and 20th centuries, with more than 7,000 photographs of the city. Pera's exhibits feature artists like Rembrandt, Joan Miró, Akira Kurosawa, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo.

For more local and international historical paintings, check out the National Palaces Painting Museum, which showcases pieces from the palace's collection. For even older works that date further back, visit The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, now known as the Chora Museum. Previously a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church, it was turned into a mosque in the 15th century and a museum in 1945. It has preserved many of its mosaics, which mostly date from 1077–1081, and provides a satisfying timeline of the history of the arts in Istanbul.

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