SALT to reflect long AKM history
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily NewsSALT Galata’s Open Archive will hold an exhibition and event series on Istanbul’s Atatürk Kültür Merkezi (AKM/Atatürk Cultural Center) and its critical role as one of the most important architectural and cultural reference points in Turkey, starting Sept. 21.
Throughout its many phases of design, construction and operation, the project’s architects, the public, and governmental and cultural groups vied with one another to control the direction modern and contemporary culture in Turkey would take, with the AKM as a platform. Up until the spring 2012 decision to renovate the building, competing interests endeavored to fashion the AKM along ideological lines and to redirect its architecture, position in the city and programs based on their own visions.
These debates introduce a wide range of issues and questions about the way culture functions in Turkey today. “The Performance of Modernity: Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, 1946-1977” takes the AKM as a pivotal example in order to investigate the recent past as a window onto current cultural practices.
The AKM in Istanbul has been modern Turkey’s touchstone for contemporary culture since the mayor of Istanbul, Lütfi Kırdar, instigated the project to provide an opera house for Istanbul in 1946. The initiative to construct the building was a difficult and long one, with many different designs reviewed, from a number of different architects. The building was finally completed in 1969 by architect Hayati Tabanlıoğlu, but it was in operation for just one year before a fire caused seven further years of reconstruction, with the AKM finally opening again in 1977. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, these ups and downs in the planning, construction, and operation of the AKM described the dynamics of the modernization efforts of the Republic of Turkey as it attempted to create the
institutions of a modern state and society.
The collection of architects and designers led by Tabanlıoğlu envisioned exactly this robust modernism in their plans for the AKM. Starting with the German-educated Tabanlıoğlu’s rare and crucial advanced understanding of opera and theater buildings, to the technical and design abilities of architect Aydın Boysan, engineer Willi Ehle, lighting designer Johannes Dinnebier and the ceramicists Sadi and Belma Diren, these practitioners, along with many other individuals and institutions generated a civic public building at a scale and level of detail that had not existed before in Turkey. The SALT Galata series will explore the implications of this historically significant building.