Near East brings brands and practitioners of art together

Near East brings brands and practitioners of art together

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Near East brings brands and practitioners of art together

‘LITTLE BATTLE,’ an installation by Navarro produced exclusively for Near East in collaboration with the Egeran Gallery.

Near East is a new establishment in Istanbul that aims to bring brands and artists together. Such endeavors have become the target of controversy in recent years, but Mihda Koray, who is heading the project, said there exist many good examples of such collaboration in the world.

The project focuses on creating strong dialogue between brands and emerging cultural landscapes through art, publishing and other cultural media in the form of exclusive collaborations.

Before establishing Near East, Koray had founded Ura in Istanbul’s Mısır apartment (a location full of art galleries). Ura was more project-based, she said, adding that she was more into video and performance art.

But Koray was interested in a project that would have a greater public reach, so she sought a space that would be bigger and cheaper, subsequently discovering a location in Dolapdere that was a huge venue to host artists for performances and to function as a project space.

Near East also has a publishing project. “I love publishing,” said Koray, adding that she did not believe print publishing was set to die anytime in the near future.

Collaboration is the main focus of Near East, even though cooperation between artists and brands is difficult. “It is still so hard to find a singular sponsorship. We would like to make projects with brands and bring them together with artists. But this [collaboration] could also be accomplished with a gallery or an art space,” she added.

It is all about exploring sponsorship and collaboration, according to Koray.

For each project, Near East will publish small booklets. “These may also become a collectible thing in the future,” she said.

Near East’s first collaboration was with Ivan Navarro, who was born and educated in Chile but who has lived and worked in the United States since 1997. His body of work straddles two visual cultures; he engages with the concerns and subjects of his homeland while simultaneously participating in a dialogue with American art movements.

Navarro uses electricity and industrial materials to investigate larger power systems at work in society. The viewer is poised at the threshold of these illusionistic spaces, between inside and outside, a position that has social, cultural and economic implications.

First performance

Near East opened during the recent Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair with an art performance by Navarro.

The space announced its launch with “LITTLE BATTLE,” an installation by Navarro produced exclusively for Near East in collaboration with the Suzanne Egeran Gallery. The installation consisted of a one-minute silent video projection accompanied by an exclusive soundtrack. The soundtrack for the video will be a recording of the performance held at the event. In “LITTLE BATTLE,” the idea is to simulate a group of components that are related to warplanes, truck, bombs and horses. Each of the images is made out of bright neon lights and mirrors in order to create a spectacle of a battle on a circular spinning stage. The word carousel originates from the Italian “garosello” and Spanish “carosella,” meaning “little battle,” used by crusaders to describe a combat preparation exercise and game played by Turkish and Arabian horsemen in the 12th century.

The inspiration comes from the artist’s personal experiences, growing up in Chile under the military dictatorship and living in the US during the wars with Iraq, Afghanistan.