Past and Future at Istanbul Modern
On 20 March 2013 Istanbul Modern opened its long awaited new permanent collection exhibition „Past and Future“ showing 180 works by 136 Turkish and international artists from the museum’s extensive collection. 91 of these works are new acquisitions, which have never been exhibited before. The show features 22 artists whose works have recently been added to the collection for the first time, among them Handan Börüteçene, Orhan Cem Çetin, Canan Dağdelen, Nilbar Güreş, Ali Kazma, Burcu Perçin and Seçkin Pirim.
„Past and Future“ was developed after a reorganization of the museum’s collection into a new exhibition model, now using a chronological format to address the transformations of modern and contemporary art in Turkey from its beginnings to the present day with art media ranging from painting, sculpture, photography, drawing and installation to video.
While the previous exhibitions of the permanent collection have been organized into corridor-like galleries, „Past and Future“ opens spaces that interact with each other, thus visually linking artists of various periods and styles. Wall texts accompanying the works informing about the social, cultural, economic, and political dynamics of the relevant time periods are also a new feature in this exhibition.
Another interesting aspect of „Past and Future“ worth mentioning is that it displays Turkish contemporary artists alongside with international acclaimed artists such as Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Richard Wentworth, Mark Bradford, Julian Opie, Thomas Ruff, Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Saraceno, and Sterling Ruby. This concept enables visitors to compare themes in the artists’ work.
Istanbul Modern has definitely a big part in the transformation currently taking place in the Turkish visual arts scene. As Levent Çalıkoğlu, Chief Curator of Istanbul Modern and the curator of the exhibition puts it: “Istanbul Modern is still the first and only institution to have retraced the history of art in Turkey from the end of the 1800s to the present using a chronological approach to the display of modern and contemporary artworks.“
Selected examples of the new acquisitions:
Canan’s Exemplary is a video about a girl in southeastern Anatolia, a girl who is “not permitted to be herself even in her dreams.” Through the story’s main character, the video investigates the mechanisms of discipline and control imposed socially on the female body, which is caught between secular and conservative debates.
The title of Taner Ceylan’s painting 1553, inspired by Süleyman the Magnificent’s wife Hürrem Sultan, is a reference to the year in which Süleyman had his son Prince Mustafa killed. The blood spread on the painting’s surface reminds us of the tension between power, force, and violence.
Right: Taner Ceylan, 1553, 2012, oil on canvas, 215 x 140 cm. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.
Nilbar Güreş’s video Undressing is a performance showing the artist wearing a costume that consistts of different kinds of headscarves. Slowly she starts to undress the headscarves one by one while mentioning the names of women that lives across Europe that she personally knows.