They united their forces for Istanbul
The events Istanbul’s prominent art institutions will organize one after another immediately after Eid al-Adha will leave their mark on the city.
If it’s necessary to identify them by order of date, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum will host the Chinese dissident contemporary artist Ai Weiwei, who preoccupies himself with world issues on Sept. 12.
This on its own, is a major art event.
Afterwards, Contemporary Istanbul will open its doors this year from Sept. 14-17, a date close to the Istanbul Biennial for the first time.
On Sept. 16, the 15th Istanbul Biennial will open with the theme of “A Good Neighbor,” under the curatorship of the Elmgreen-Dargest duo and the sponsorship of Koç Holding.
Akbank Chairwoman Suzan Sabancı, who we met for lunch at the Sabancı Museum to talk about Ai Weiwei, said, “Everything is for Istanbul’s publicity and Turkey’s image.”
“And our aim is, of course, to present the most qualified work to art lovers and to bring the world’s most famous artists here,” she adds.
Ai Weiwei’s prominent art exhibitions, which have been acclaimed worldwide, will bring together art lovers at the Sabancı Museum. The joint action taken by Contemporary Istanbul sponsored by Akbank and the Istanbul Biennial will create a doping effect on the country’s image and its tourism, which has been going through rough days.
A good exhibition makes one travel
Let’s not forget wealthy art lovers in the world are not held back from travelling in order to attend highly-acclaimed events.
In fact, Newsweek presented the Istanbul Biennial, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, as among the “Five exhibitions worth travelling for in 2017.”
Similarly, foreign visitors will definitely come for Ai Weiwei’s exhibit and it will be widely covered in foreign media, who has been preparing one of his biggest exhibitions for Istanbul and has been designing special pieces in his atelier in China for Istanbul.
Saying that they have previously hosted major attention-grabbing artists like Picasso, Dali and Anish Kapoor, Suzan Sabancı adds, “The books that we publish regarding these exhibitions are taking place in the world’s most significant libraries.”
“The Weiwei Exhibition will create a positive effect on the Istanbul Biennial like the one famous British artist Damian Hirst created in the Venice Biennial,” Sabancı said, as she said that Akbank supported both the Ai Weiwei Exhibition and Contemporary Istanbul.
Sabancı Museum Director Nazan Ölçer, meanwhile, said it all began by writing to the artist and that the Chinese artist is approaching the exhibition in Istanbul with great interest.
The tragedy of the refugees concerns him
Ölçer recalled that Weiwei was in Istanbul during the attack in Beyoğlu and that the artist then visited the refugee camps in Gaziantep.
The great tragedy of refugees has been under the Chinese artist’s projector who I have followed through Instagram since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. Ai Weiwei went to Lesbos in 2015 to directly follow the tragedy of refugees, and shared documentary-like photographs and videos. A year later, the artist built a studio in Lesbos and made a temporary installation of the life vests found in Lesbos’ beaches on the five columns of the Konzerthaus in Berlin, Germany.
Furthermore, he aimed to draw attention to the refugee tragedy despite the risk of reaction, by posing exactly like Aylan Kurdi who lost his life off Bodrum’s shore.
Work made specifically for Istanbul from his porcelain atelier in China are heading for the country that hosts over three million Syrian refugees. Therefore, it would naturally be impossible for him to overlook the refugee tragedy.
On the other hand, in the framework of the 15th Istanbul Biennial’s theme of “A Good Neighbor,” the impact of war on those who have lost their homes will bring multiculturalism to the limelight in harmony with Weiwei’s exhibition.
I hope these art events in Istanbul will give the Istanbulites, who breathe the same air as the Syrian refugees but are not preoccupied with the issue, a good time and also make them think about the tragedy that has been going on.