Kaelen Wilson-Goldie explains the Contemporary art scene in Turkey for ArtForum’s Scene&Herd column as three events in Istanbul picked up from the previous Contemporary art force, Platform:
The major players are banks: Garanti, Akbank, and Yapi Kredi, among others. Behind those banks are wealthy industrial families, which inevitably makes any discussion of the Istanbuli art elite sound like a hushed conversation about the Italian Mafia’s five families in New York. Instead of maximizing the retail potential of Istiklal, those banks and their families are opening galleries, museums, foundations, and research centers in key spots along the main drag. [… ]
Platform wound down its activities at the end of last year, merged with Garanti Galeri and the Ottoman Bank Archives, and subjected itself to an institutional revamp as impressive as the restoration of the building, the first of two enormous spaces constituting the new initiative. The second building, Salt Galata, is an architectural jewel, the former headquarters of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, which is scheduled to open in September to coincide—or compete with—the next Istanbul Biennial.
Vasif Kortun, Platform’s founder and the director of research and programming at Salt, is an unabashed power broker on the Istanbul scene. But perhaps as an antidote to the city’s intense artistic factionalism, Kortun has shifted away from exhibition making and conceived of Salt as a think tank in action, a collaborative space for testing out new forms of debate and exchange.
Salt Shaker (Scene & Herd/ArtForum)