British Council opens up new ways to discover art
HATİCE UTKAN ÖZDEN
Current exhibition of British Council opens new ways to discover contemporary art.
Curated by Mine Kaplangı, “Dancing with Witches,” the third edition of the digital arts platform “Museum without Walls” focuses on the theme of “woman” and for the first time in its history, it brings together paintings, prints, photos and videos by contemporary artists from Turkey besides a selection of art works from the British Council Collection.
The exhibition takes inspiration from a current focus on the witch/woman as a symbol of power and works of English literature which foreground women’s rights and equality.
Through a selection of art works from the British Council Collection that underpins the role of female artists whose presence and influence within the history Western art has been concealed or swept aside, the exhibition aims to open a space for an intercontinental dialogue by showcasing from various contemporary Turkish artists along with more than 20 artworks chosen from the collection’s different historical periods.
The exhibition is an ode to literature while it is a romantic look at the contemporary art world with the works from Fatma Bucak, Canan, Nilbar Güreş, Gözde İlkin, Istanbul Queer Art Collective, Erinç Seymen and Pınar Yolaçan from Turkey and artists Anya Gallaccio, Paula Rego, Roger Eckling, Alan Davie, David Nash, Madame Yvonde and Grayson Perry.
The highlight of the exhibition is William Blake’s “The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy” (also known as “Hecate”), which is a work from 1795, depicting a female character from Blake’s mythology. Hecate is a goddess of magic.
This work presents a nightmare scene with different creatures that Blake created.
The exhibition on the other hand reveals the latest digital projects that British Council brought together since 2017.
Initiated for the first time in 2017 with curators, a “Museum without Walls” can be accessed by anyone having an internet connection.
The British Council Collection began in 1938 with a modest group of works on paper and has grown to more than 8,500 artworks, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, film and multimedia by over 1,250 artists.
Speaking about their programs in Turkey Esra Aysun, the head of Arts at British Council Turkey, said they are curating programs annually.
“Although our focus areas and themes which are currently evolving around digital and accessibility; programs on creative enterprise and women and girls are planned in longer strategies,” she said.
The programs and exhibitions are held to reach wider audiences and wider countries. As a result, the strategy in fact is to support social change and raise awareness in arts and culture events.
British Council is also very keen on curating programs for women. “In 2020, we aim to present a major cultural event, the WOW – Women of the World festival, in Istanbul where our four women leaders will take lead curatorial roles on the program.
We are confident that this festival, initiated by Jude Kelly, the previous Artistic Director of the Southbank Center and now the founding director of the WOW Foundation, will be a crucial platform to make voices of the women of Istanbul heard,” she said.
Another important aspect of the institution is arts for social change.
“Arts for social change is one of our essential programing pillars. We want to extend safe spaces for culture, creative exploration and exchange. We aim to implement our programs to build trust and enable dialogue and diversity,” Aysun said.
British Council aims to create opportunities, enabling creative entrepreneurs and female cultural professionals to fulfill their potential and showcase best examples of how arts can speak to and impact societies by initiating innovative encounters between creative and diverse communities.
“And we believe that gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to creating inclusive, open and prosperous societies,” added Aysun.