The Ai Weiwei exhibition in Mardin

The Ai Weiwei exhibition in Mardin

The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition that had been extended twice in Istanbul due to the great deal of attention it had attracted will be showcased in the southeastern province of Mardin.

The Chinese artist’s pieces, which were exhibited at the Sabancı Museum, are now lying beside the unique Mardin stones.

His work, titled “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,” are exhibited on those beautiful stone walls in Mardin.

It is worth travelling all the way down to Mardin to see the exhibition in a truly different atmosphere.

On May 4, visitors from Istanbul, locals and the notables of Mardin all gathered in the garden of the Sakıp Sabancı Mardin City Museum and the Dilek Sabancı Art Galllery for the opening of the exhibition.

The venue where the exhibition is displayed was built in 1889 during the reign of Abdülhamit II as cavalry barracks and restored by the Sabanci Foundation. The restored historic building opened its doors in 2009.

Nazan Ölçer, the director of the Sabancı Museum, said the venue could have been used for organizing events because of the ownership issues related to the building.

Ölçer said that thanks to efforts by the Sabancı Foundation and Dilek Sabancı, the building of the museum in Mardin has been allocated to the foundation for a period of 49 years.

“We will make the best of Mardin. We will do everything here in Mardin whatever we do in Istanbul, which is known as Turkey’s cultural capital,” Ölçer said in a speech she delivered at the opening ceremony for the Ai Weiwei exhibition.

Mardin’s star is shining bright again 

According to Dilek Sabancı, the museum has attracted 700,000 visitors and introduced more than 70,000 children to the arts since its opening.

“Mardin is one of the magnificent cities of Mesopotamia. When we opened this museum and we wanted to be a part of the city’s cultural life and also promote the city’s heritage in the world,” Dilek Sabancı said.

The Ai Weiwei exhibition is being displayed in the town at a time when Mardin has started to restore its glorious days in tourism activities.

Mustafa Yaman, the governor of Mardin, stressed that point.

The number of tourists visiting Mardin, which has 10,000-bed capacity, has increased by 300 percent over the past six months.

The city has been so lively these days thanks to the Ai Weiwei exhibition and the 4th Mardin Biennial.

I was in the city back in 2015 for the 3rd Mardin Biennial but it was impossible to walk around in the city because of infrastructure works.

Now, the city’s streets are full of tourists.

A visitor from NASA 

Zerrin Koyunsağan, the general manager of the Sabancı Foundation, said that she would come back to the city early next week for a project.

The Mardin Cultural Association’s “Sisters’ Laboratory Project” received a grant from the Sabancı Foundation in 2017.

The project aims to empower girls through science and tech labs and introduce role model scientists to them, according to Koyunsağan.

“We asked Turkish scientist Professor Feryal Özel at NASA if she could come to Mardin for two days as a role model. She accepted our invitation,” Koyunsağan said.

Özel and the girls will discuss science.

This is really magnificent.

Özel is taking part in a project to develop a space telescope which will become operational in the 2020s.

Under the Sisters’ Laboratory Project four female high school students from Mardin will attend a training program and they will share their experience with female secondary school students when they return to their hometown.