Commercial galleries have sprouted up in Istanbul in the
last few years, usually with spaces, agendas, and staff on an institutional
scale. A quick provisional count of Istanbul-based art publications reminds me
that four are published by galleries, while one is supported by the larger
structure of Contemporary
. Interesting, to say the least, is this desire to fill the
different roles, usually reserved for a multiplicity of actors, by the gallery
In this rapidly
where budgets are not modest by any means, the
small-scale not-for-profits or initiatives play an even more important role,
providing the content that would otherwise be amiss. And recently, art fairs
have also picked up on this and included these organizations in their roster.
The most successful rendition so far was at Art International
thirteen of these organizations came together in a beautifully designed space.
Sprawled all across Istanbul, some of these organizations are itinerant, some
lack spaces, and some are not even open all the time. Putting them in the same
space for four days, was smart, allowing for a dialogue. 49a hailing from Izmir
included works by the artist Mehmet
, reminding us of the single-artist-driven, open-to-the-public studio
exhibits with the artist-driven shared studio space Un-Known
, both at Art International and
Contemporary Istanbul. On m-est.org
, we published an earlier series using the online space to exhibit and talk about this specific body of work for the first time; now, it is great to see that she has exhibited two different bodies of work—at Contemporary Istanbul, in collaboration with Joana Kohen—on the occasion of the art fairs in the past couple of months—art fairs enable a sizeable audience for artists and open up their works, otherwise seen only by the specific audience of their initiative. (Find an interview between Ögel and Jacob Kassay
Also of note is the small-scale institution collectorspace
*. collectorspace brings a single work
from a private art collection
—so far, they have only worked with collectors
from abroad—and produces a conversation around this simple idea of making the
private collection public, both through video interviews with the collectors
and public talks with local contributors. At Contemporary Istanbul, they have
setup a pop-up library of books from their storefront in Taksim, focusing on
certain threads in their institutional framework.
While reading or processing anything really at an art fair
is optimistic—to put it politely—emphasizing the programming and vision of
these institutions and initiatives is crucial, especially considering the
modest scales on which they tend to work.
Ersoy, the project manager of collectorspace, is also the managing editor of
m-est.org; it is not a coincidence as many practices and dialogues are
constantly intersecting in this context.
Images: a work by Mehmet Dere, two works by Lara Ögel, an image from collectorspace.