Library of
Design, Art and Idea


Vol. 6

Organized within the scope of its tenth year, the Istanbul Modernpresents an extensive selection of contemporary artworks from the vast geographical area of which Turkey is a part.

Sponsored by the Eczacıbaşı Group, the exhibition will be on view between January 9 and May 8, 2014. The show examines common approaches to visual culture in seventeen contiguous countries through the works of thirty-five artists. Neighbours brings together works by pioneering contemporary artists from places in the Balkans, Caucasia, and the Middle East that share historical, political, and cultural ties with Turkey. Rather than defining artists according to increasingly artificial national identities, the exhibition looks at how these practitioners convey local culture and experience in their work. The exhibition is curated by Çelenk Bafra and Paolo Colombo from Istanbul Modern, with the assistance of regional art experts Negar Azimi, Zdenka Badovinac, and Magda Guruli. Neighbourshas been supported by the Promotion Fund of the Prime Ministry and TAV Airports Holding, along with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Poland), the Mondriaan Fund (the Netherlands), the Ruya Foundation (Iraq), the Consulate General of Israel, the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, the Consulate General of Greece, and Antalis Turkey. The exhibition focuses on work relating to or employing the vernacular of today’s art practice, particularly narrative, oral tradition, and popular theater—forms that lie at the heart of social interaction and express individual voices within the public arena. Neighbours looks at how deeply rooted social customs such as spectacles and celebrations have seeped into the visual arts to inform the work of contemporary artists from this diversified and historically interconnected area. The exhibition addresses the themes of storytelling and travel, common denominators in the cultures and arts of the region. These two themes are invoked in many works, along with the notions of mobility, nomadism, migration, and itinerancy and nuances of language, translation, and cultural transmission, among others.
An essential element of culture and civilization, narrative is found in virtually every form of human creativity. The artists in the exhibition often research and produce in various fields, presenting a “polyphonic company or orchestra of narratives” that hones in on a pluralistic narrative spirit. The nomadic nature of many of the region’s communities is reflected in the artists’ works in narratives characterized by mobility and displacement; their cultures and histories have been carried along largely through oral and visual accounts. Thus the concepts of journey and narrative are intrinsically intertwined. While Neighbours features the formal genres of performance and spectacle, it also treats disciplines developed outside academic art circles, such as caricature and traditional crafts. Today we still see the influence in the visual arts of shadow theater, and of a cultural tradition that spread among local people via the itinerant aşık(traveling bard) and meddah (public storyteller). An extensive schedule of activities has also been prepared alongside Neighbours, including screenings, performances, panels, talks, and workshops dedicated to the region’s art and culture. Organized by assistant curator Birnur Temel, the program “Come Again?” will screen the works of thirteen artists in a specially designed video room within the main exhibition
Vol. 6
Ferhat Özgür Interview Sustainability