TANAS reflecting Turkish art in Berlin

TANAS reflecting Turkish art in Berlin

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
TANAS reflecting Turkish art in Berlin TANAS, a Berlin-based art gallery with a focus on following and presenting ongoing developments in contemporary Turkish art in Berlin, is currently showing a new exhibition titled “Turkish Art New and Superb.”

With work from artists focusing on all aspects of daily life, the exhibition reveals how the Turkish contemporary art scene is perceived overseas. TANAS strives to operate as a platform for creating and continuing discourse and interaction between Turkish artists, gallery curators and the German audience. This is also the mission of the gallery’s latest exhibition, curated by René Block and Ece Pazarbaşı.

The exhibition strives to bring out the local cultural landscape along with the social and political implications it reveals through selected works. Berlin is the ideal setting for such an undertaking.

Having worked with Turkish artists before and continuously having searched for a breath of fresh air in the often stuffy contemporary art world, Block aimed to showcase 13 contemporary artists, most of whom were born in Turkey in the 1970s and now live in Istanbul.

“Turkish Art New and Superb” brings together Mehtap Baydu, Bashir Borlakov, Banu Cennetoğlu, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Cevdet Erek, Ha Za Vu Zu, Nuri Kuzucan, Ali Miharbi, Yasemin Özcan, Serkan Özkaya, Güneş Terkol, Vahit Tuna and Shiri Zinn.

The show, which found its place between dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel and the Berlin Biennale, draws attention to national attributions and identity. Given the works of the show and their focus point, the exhibition may also be referred to as a parallel event of the various art events taking place during the biennial, which is continuing until July 1.

The concept of “Turkish Art New and Superb” does not attempt to belabor the typical clichés of so-called “easily palatable” Turkish art. Rather, Block and Pazarbaşı have very conscientiously curated a selection of artists and works that clearly stake their own artistic ground. The challenging artists direct their critical gaze at all aspects of daily life – at society, politics, history, and culture and their inherent antagonisms and interconnections.

Themes of national attributions and features of identity are in no way denied in TANAS’ latest exhibition. Instead, the show demonstrates that Turkey’s newly flourishing art scene is no longer concentrating solely on traditional patterns. The artists’ works reveal untraditional patterns, as they focus on institutions, urban life and identities. The works vary from sculptures, oil on canvas, installations, photography and video art works.
Gathering different medium in one exhibition

As curators of “Turkish Art New and Superb,” Block and Pazarbaşı have tried to reflect the usage of different techniques. One of the highlights of the exhibition is work from Baydu, a German-based Turkish artist who uses photography, video and sculpture mediums in her artworks.

“I make use of any artistic means of expression; drawing, sculpture, performance, video, installation and photography, to reflect social structures of a multicultural society,” Baydu said in a written statement.

It is with intensive care that Baydu reflects on various social structures, as evident in her 2011 piece “Osman.” In the work Baydu criticizes the male person’s place in the society by photographing herself as a man. In a video performance piece of Baydu’s titled “Eat me, Meet me” she wears a dried layer of fruit pulp and allows people to eat it off of her. Baydu’s other work at the exhibition “Brot,” which she made from baked dough and leather, emphasizes the problems experienced by Turkish people who have come to Germany. The work’s title “Brot,” which means bread in English, refers to the Turkish saying “working for bread.” The saying means that in order to live, people have to earn money.

Each work has its own exclusive characteristic in terms of medium which reflects the work’s artist. For example, Güneş Terkol, a Turkish artist who has acquire increasing fame in the Turkish art scene in recent years, once again reveals her own artistic approach with her unique fabric materials and textiles. Once again, Terkol’s work focuses on women. Terkol’s work has yet to come to Turkey, as she produced the work in a workshop together with women from Berlin. Terkol’s work develops new aesthetic modes outside the customary art context.

Erek, Ha Za Vu Zu, Kuzucan, Miharbi and Özkaya interpret everyday urban life, enriching it with personal elements. Cennetoğlu’s collaborations with Özcan and Zinn focus on institutional critique.

Tuna and Aslı Çavuşoğlu playfully criticize politics and social history, while Borlakov creates photographic tableaux with historical citations and visual elements from dream scenarios.

“Turkish Art New and Superb” continues until July 28.

Next exhibit of TANAS: Halil Altındere

A solo presentation of “If I Can Dance” by Halil Altındere will follow on the heels of “Turkish Art New and Superb” at TANAS Berlin starting Sept. 8. Altındere’s exhibition will include some of the works from his former solo exhibition, held in Pilot Gallery in Istanbul.

However, this time there will be new works which have never been seen before. His solo show focuses on works created within the last five years, as well as on new sculptures, video and photography works produced especially for the exhibition. TANAS Berlin will also organize the first institutional solo exhibition in Germany for Altındere.


As a gallery, TANAS follows and presents the ongoing developments in contemporary Turkish art in Berlin. TANAS sees itself as a platform for continuing discourse and regular interaction between Turkish artists and curators and the German and international audience. In view of the local cultural landscape, as well as social and political implications, Berlin is the ideal place for this. Since 1989 Istanbul and Berlin have also been linked as partner cities, and scholarship programs and cooperation among cultural institutions within that framework have created a complex web of relationships in the arts. René Block oversees the non-commercial TANAS project space, thus continuing his longtime interest and involvement with contemporary art from Turkey. 

TANAS was established in close cooperation with the Vehbi Koç Foundation in Istanbul, which also finances it. The foundation promotes educational, social and cultural projects and founded the Sadberk Hanım Museum, the first private museum in Turkey, in 1980. The word TANAS is an anagram of sanat, which means art in Turkish.