Artistic Year! Istanbul’s Arter Museum to Host Five New Exhibits

Artistic Year! Istanbul’s Arter Museum to Host Five New Exhibits

TRT World was able to preview autumn’s most hotly-tipped exhibitions at contemporary art museum Arter, and spoke with Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye’s curator, Eda Berkmen, about her show “Repetition”.

Contemporary art space Arter, in Istanbul’s Dolapdere district, is ready for the new season with five new exhibitions, in addition to two previous ones that have been extended.

Speaking at the news conference, Arter’s Founding Director, Melih Fereli, reminisces about how its new building was opened a year and a day ago. “If we are to count our Istiklal Street location, [which I do], it is our tenth anniversary this year,” he says.

Fereli speaks of having had to shut down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 13, hoping that it would not last. Arter reopened briefly on June 16, he says, but then the administrators decided to close once more and return for the season of autumn with a host of fascinating shows.

Fereli is the curator of two audio-heavy shows, “For Eyes That Listen”, the third ‘sound art project’ by Arter, and “Rainforest V (variation 3)”, the fourth. “Eyes” can be viewed until April 25, while “Rainforest” ends on February 7.

Quoting famed Turkish pottery artist, Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye, who once said “the lever of my life is love and art,” Fereli says “health” has become the third element in the equation.

Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye says she was honoured to be featured at Arter, and that while she has been shown extensively abroad and in Turkey, this was the first contemporary museum show she has had, one that excited, thrilled and scared her at the same time.

TRT World was able to catch up with the curator of Ebuzziya’s show, Eda Berkmen. Berkmen says that the two had been planning it for the past two and a half years. She says many curators wanted the honour of curating Ebuzziya’s collection, but due to scheduling and other concerns, Berkmen ended up getting the job, she says with delighted laughter.

Berkmen tells TRT World that Ebuzziya planned her pottery works based on the space made available to her, and threw them in Paris, where she lives and works.

Asked about the Soren Kierkegaard connection, Berkmen says the exhibition borrows its title from the philosopher’s book “Repetition”. “Alev Ebuzziya had read the book when she was much younger and it has left a mark on her”.

“After all, Ebuzziya has been throwing bowls all her life, endlessly repeating herself; but at the same time, no two vessels are alike, as the viewer will find while walking through the exhibition”.

Quoting the exhibition guide, Berkmen says: “The inquiries addressed in the book on ‘whether or not repetition is possible, what significance it holds, and whether something is gained or lost in being repeated’ provide insight into the principles of Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye’s artistic practice.” She says the book explores the concept of repetition with sample stories, through which “you see that repetition is at once possible, and impossible.” She calls the book a very entertaining read which vacillates between two different perspectives.


Mentioning as an example the author repeating a trip to Berlin, Berkmen says “because he is trying to replicate his previous trip to a tee, his attempt is automatically a failure.”

“How can we define repetition so that it isn’t repetition? Or how can we define it, perhaps much more abstractly, intellectually, as a structure, maybe then it is possible [to arrive at repetition]” Berkmen muses.

“So perhaps Alev Ebuzziya is performing the ideal bowl in her works, we can say,” she clarifies. “She cannot specifically reproduce the exact same bowl, of course she can’t. So maybe she has an ideal in her head,” Berkmen says, noting that anything handmade is bound to have nuances, no matter how similar they may seem.

Asked if she would like to address future viewers of the exhibition, Berkmen says the works speak for themselves and that the intellectualisation is not necessary for their enjoyment.

Other exhibitions on display

In addition to the ‘sound art’ projects “For Eyes That Listen” and “Rainforest V (variation 3)”, and Alev Ebuzziya Siesbye’s “Repetition”, Arter has four more exhibitions on view.

Cevdet Erek’s “Bergama Stereotip”, a continuing exhibition curated by Selen Ansen, “takes the architecture and odyssey of the historical Great Altar of Pergamon as point of reference and reinterprets it.”

The Altan Gurman retrospective can be viewed until January 24, and provides an exhaustive look into the painter and graphic artist’s works.

Curated by Kevser Guler, “On Celestial Bodies” can be viewed until March 7, while the massive and highly impressive “KP Brehmer: The Big Picture” exhibition curated by Selen Ansen is on until January 24.

The Brehmer exhibition is a collaborative effort between Arter, Neues Museum Nuremberg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, and Kunstmuseum Den Haag. It is a colourful and thought-provoking look back on the artist’s oeuvre that is considered part of Capitalist Realism – and with more than a passing nod to Pop Art.

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