My laptop broke down just on time. I turned it on this morning so that I'll finish my text for you but ... So this seems to be a real postcard, handwritten in a cafe on a Sunday night. Istanbul is again under the spell of the coming biennial 'Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War' curated by Hou Hanrou in September. Everyone you know and you don't is working on an exhibition or a project that if lucky enough will be included in the parallel events list.
The truth is that since the last biennial there have been quite some newborn art gems in town; always filtered through the city's character and peculiar dynamism. Almost a year ago the not-for-profit project space PIST (http://pist-org.blogspot.com) opened its ex-grocery's doors in the off central area of Pangalti and since then it's done window projects, very successfully organized a series of performances and hosted the e-flux video rental project with an extensive series of programs throughout. This month Nevin Alada_ and Lukasz Chrobok present a video and sound installation 'Copy & Paste' it been the result of a long visual and audio build up of this final construction.
MASA (table in Turkish), an unconventional space, a table run by Vahid Tuna, has been hosting artists' works on it in his design studio and through that is giving them the opportunity to concentrate and focus on the limited surface of a table and do a work that reflects their oeuvre and experiment with new ways of presenting their art. Artists that have done the table up until now are : Erinç Seymen, Borga Kanturk, Asli Çavu_o_lu and Artur Zmijewski.
BAS (www.b-a-s.info) is a space that opened by Banu Ceneto_lu during the 9th Istanbul Biennial and since then it's been functioning as a reading room with a thorough collection of artists' books. Its strong activity though is the one of publishing artists' books and in collaboration with the Dutch artist Philippine Hoegen (BENT) there has come to light the awesome work of Masist Gül (1947-2003) a film actor who in his private world was making black comic strips. Along with this work two beautiful young artists' projects have been published, the one by Asli Çavu_o_lu and newcomer Emre Huner.
A big public screen located on top of the 72 m. high The Marmara Pera Hotel has been completely given for the exhibition of contemporary art; and in July 2006 'yama' (www.yama.com.tr) officially started its screening series '...as long as it's dark...' organised by Sylvia Kouvali. Every month and every night for the whole night a work plays in a loop. Artists featured up to now: Tova Mozart, Ahmet Ö_üt, Sophie Nys, Henri Tani, Giles Round, Wael Shawky, Angelo Plessas and the next to be screened is 'Nemesis 52' by Nicosia-based artist Haris Epaminonda.
Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center just closed the 'Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie' show, co-curated by freelance curator and writer Tirdad Zolghard and Gasworks curator Nav Haq with a very interesting conference/performance with Turkish and international speakers such as Frederic Jacquemin, Erden Kosova , the curators themselves and a performance by artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian.
20 March and for three months Platform opens its gallery to share its very rich and extensive art and theory library and the Turkish as well as international artists' archive. The gallery has been specially transformed for reading, research, screenings and discussions that will take course within the 'Open Library' by the new arrived architect office SUPERPOOL (www.superpool.org)
The private Istanbul Modern museum has just welcomed its new director David Elliot, previously director of the Mori Museum in Japan and Moderna Museet in Sweden. A hopeful transfer for both the museum, the city and as it seems David himself. It's true that things are happening, especially when someone starts enumerating them. It's also true that some things are missing. What that must be is the mixing of different cultures, subcultures and genres. One realises that by receiving the press release of URA!URA!URA!, an international project organized by Mihda Koray that aims to bring together four Slade graduates that have been exhibiting together and always create a loud and fun merging of music, club culture and contemporary art. Artists participating: Adham Faramawy, Christian Egger, Melisa Frost and Mihda Koray. The show will take place at the first floor of Misir Apartment located in the cultural ghetto of Beyoglu and it will open on 6 April with a big party. A follow up will take place during the biennial.
Studio live is a night club still in the ghetto but closer to Taksim, a more frenzied area mixed with all sorts of people that Derya Demir takes over the space and organises special events and performances by mixing art and club culture. Finally we found a quality music venue with up and coming superstars who are not afraid to do things outside the frame of an art institute and it really rocks! The events and video screenings that have taken place up to now are by: Cevdet Erek, Neriman Polat, DJ Berbat Zoksal, Kevin Murhy, Ilyas Odman, Kurye Video Festival, Ece Kalabak and more and the April ones are Hazavuzu, Luk Sips, Irnak Arkman and many many more (www.studio-live.com).
Istanbul is in constant flux so let's wish that with the new year and after the 10th Biennial there will be more interesting, fresh and authentic projects and spaces. Insallah!