Moving Image Co-Founders on the Rise of Video Art in Turkey
As the international art market continues to evolve alongside digital technologies, video art has reemerged as a medium worth engaging with in the hyper-connected 21st century. While audiences are constantly interacting with video content both online and off, artists are harnessing the ever-growing video-based cultural consciousness in their own works—and selling them. This year, the Moving Image art fair, hosted in London and New York, has added Istanbul to its locations. Artsy spoke with the fair’s founders, Ed Winkleman and Murat Orozobekov, about the Turkish art market, video art, and how the internet has changed the medium.
Artsy: Turkey’s capital has been lauded as one of the next art empires—home to the Istanbul Biennial, two international art fairs, and a slew of new institutions. In choosing to open the third installment of Moving Image in Istanbul, you’re betting on this burgeoning scene. Why Istanbul over other emerging markets?
Ed Winkleman & Murat Orozobekov: We are carefully considering a number of other options, but the timing was right for Istanbul this year. In addition to establishing a great dialogue and working relationship with Dyala Nusseibeh [director of ArtInternational], we have received fantastic encouragement and support from many galleries and art institutions in Istanbul.
It probably helps that Murat lived in Istanbul for nine years and is fluent in Turkish, and that Turkish collectors have regularly visited and purchased artwork from Moving Image editions in New York and London. Another factor for us in choosing Istanbul this year is that we are both huge fans of a number of great Turkish artists working in film and video, such as Nezaket Ekici, Gulsun Karamustafa, Şükran Moral, Serkan Ozkaya, Ahmet Ögüt, and Gizem Karakaş. Finally, we are very impressed with the number of collectors in Istanbul who focus on video or digital art in their collections. Add in the depth of the video collections at Istanbul art institutions like Borusan Contemporary and Istanbul Modern, and the decision became pretty easy.
Artsy: What other cities do you see as powerful centers for video art?
EW & MO: We are currently in discussion with directors of major fairs in Mexico City and São Paulo. We are also investigating Hong Kong as an option, but logistics there seem a bit trickier. Video art is pretty ubiquitous as a medium that contemporary artists are using. We see great video from both art centers and somewhat out-of-the-way locations (video is particularly strong in Central Asia, for example). Of course, the technology available in Los Angeles makes it stand out as a potentially important center. That’s something we’re keen to learn more about.
Artsy: What insights can you share about the local contemporary art scene? Is there a strong market for video art in Turkey? Do you see the potential for a new generation of collectors in the young economy?
EW & MO: There is a great organization formed by top collectors in Turkey called SAHA. We are surprised how many of this select group of collectors are known for collecting video art, including Ahmet Kocabıyık from Borusan Contemporary, Haro Cumbusyan from collectorspace, Agah Uğur from Borusan, Fusun and Faruk Eczacibasi, Leyla Alaton, Tansa Mermerci Ekşioğlu, Saruhan Dogan, and so many others. So the potential is already being realized, but we do believe these leading collectors will continue to influence the new generation of collectors and video art will continue to have strong support in Turkey.
Artsy: Last fall, in your Curatorial Research Lab, you showcased three Turkish video artists. What is most exciting about the multimedia art coming out of Turkey? Is there a reason why video art is particularly strong in the region?
EW & MO: We once asked an artist from Afghanistan why the video art from Turkey through Central Asia seemed to stand out in international contexts. Her answer was it comes from three sources: a strong regional history of storytelling; the formal strengths of Soviet cinema (which had influence throughout this part of the world); and a tradition of complex weaving.
The last answer threw us for a loop. Weaving? She explained that being accustomed to very complex interwoven patterns gives artists insights into how to interweave complex film and video segments while editing. As soon as she said that I immediately thought of several works I know from the region, in which the editing is, indeed, mesmerizing and exquisite.
Artsy: How has the market for video art evolved in the past decade? Has the internet helped or hindered video art’s market acceptance as a fine art medium?
EW & MO: We’ve seen a slow but steady increase in video sales over the past decade. I would say the internet has been the best thing to happen to the market for video art. The ability to have an online catalog where you can actually see the images, well, “move,” has revolutionized communicating quickly what a video work is about. So much more than stills ever could.
Artsy: Market questions aside, how has video art changed alongside the proliferation of all these new digital mediums and low-budget opportunities for emerging artists?
EW & MO: The biggest change for artists has been how everyone worldwide, artist or not, has taken to communicating in video. From Vines, to YouTube, Vimeo, and animated gifs, the world is clearly in love with this new, more-affordable lingua franca. This gives emerging artists opportunities to quickly redefine what contemporary art can be and how it can be distributed. Artists who may have originally focused on painting or sculpture are picking up cameras and incorporating moving images into their practice. Even if they don’t produce final video works of art, digital technology is working its way into their visual vocabulary.