Contemporary Istanbul prepares to commence

Contemporary Istanbul prepares to commence

Hatice Utkan Özden
Contemporary Istanbul prepares to commence This year Contemporary Istanbul is set to take place between Nov. 3 and 6. The fair once again aims to bring together leading contemporary art galleries from Turkey and around the world while giving a regional and international focus to the dynamic contemporary art scene that has developed in Istanbul in recent decades. 

The 11th edition of the fair is home to a new project titled “Collectors’ Stories.” Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, CI Artistic Advisor Marc-Olivier Wahler said this was quite an ambitious project. The project gathered 60 best collectors in Turkey. “We have asked them to pick artworks not only representing their collection. We wanted them to choose works that include a personal story they have with this artwork. It’s not about prestige, it’s about acquisition. It’s about the personal and intimate relation with the artist and what happened when they discovered the piece.”

The “Collectors’ Stories” exhibition on the fair ground is curated by Wahler and coordinated by Contemporary Istanbul Program Director Associate Professor Dr. Marcus Graf. Their aims are to provide an opportunity for collectors to present their individual aesthetic insights, the exhibition will also facilitate a conversation on the shifting dynamics of contemporary art tastes and how best to build an art collection, while the trends, motivations and strategies behind art purchases will be revealed. Bringing together different attitudes, preferences and collections, the project hopes to develop a shared curatorial spirit while drawing a roadmap for a new generation of art collectors. The project is significant, as the exhibited works are selected by the collectors themselves and those chosen are recently acquired pieces.

According to Wahler, this is very important, because CI is an art fair and when we think about an art fair, we think about the market and the money, but there is something more profound about it. There will be more than 120 works each related to a specific story. 

Wahler thinks CI has a unique identity, which is why it continues to exist. “It has a very strong identity. First, it’s an art fair where you can see what’s going on in Beirut, Tehran, Bucharest, Azerbaijan, and in all regions you don’t really know about.” 

“If you go to an art fair in Florence, Paris or New York, you will always see the same galleries and the same usual suspects including some young gallery you didn’t know in New York or Berlin. But you won’t see these type of galleries that you might see in CI,” he said.  

This is quite unique, according to Wahler. “This all comes with the diversity of art that is shown. CI presents various art works to its followers. There is not always one taste, like minimal art or like the type of blue-chip art you would see in Sotheby’s, other auction houses or in Chelsea.”

CI Design 

This year Contemporary Istanbul will be presenting audiences with a new section of CI Design. The design section will bring design galleries together for the first time for the 11th edition and offer exciting new opportunities for art collectors. Carefully selected international and Turkish galleries will feature a collection of exceptional works. 

According to Wahler, it is very important to have a design section. “Because today, we see that all boundaries are blurred between categories. Before you have contemporary art, you have architecture and you also have design. Nowadays artists are navigating through all these type of domains. So it is natural for an art fair to reflect these types of movements in the art.” This also shows the flexibility of Contemporary Istanbul to move from one direction to another, Wahler added.

“It is a fact that such an art fair continues to be successful throughout all the events that happened in the last ten years, despite all the economic and political events, this shows that it is a very strong fair, and secondly, that it is flexible enough to adapt to different situations,” Wahler said.