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'Young Art in Ankara 1': Activating Turkey's artistic potential

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    Young Art in Ankara 1 : Activating Turkey s artistic potential * On a normal day, Kizilay and Kavaklidere are two of Ankara s busiest business and shopping
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 1998
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      'Young Art in Ankara 1': Activating Turkey's artistic potential

      * On a normal day, Kizilay and Kavaklidere are two of Ankara's
      busiest business and shopping districts. From Oct. 25 through Nov.
      14 they will also become the city's busiest art districts
      * The exhibition venues for 'Young Art in Ankara 1' will include the
      German Culture Center, the British Council, the Italian Cultural
      Council, the French Cultural Center and Cankaya Municipality's
      newly completed Contemporary Arts Center, as well as some less
      traditional sites like Karum shopping center and Kugulu Park;
      there will even be a nightly performance in one of the shop
      windows on Tunali Hilmi, the center of Ankara's up-scale shopping
      district

      DEBORAH SEMEL

      Ankara - Turkish Daily News

      What, a biennial in Ankara? Well, not exactly, but as it's name
      implies, the exhibit "Young Art in Ankara 1" is the first in what the
      organizers of the event hope will become a tradition for Turkey's
      contemporary-art-starved capital.

      The idea for the exhibition began when Marion Haase, the director of
      the German Culture Center in Ankara, approached Muammer Bozkurt, an
      artist and instructor at Hacettepe University, to learn more about
      what young artists in Ankara were doing. Bozkurt began gathering
      portfolios of local artists to present to the German Culture Center.
      In the process, other cultural centers in Ankara, the Turkish Ministry
      of Culture and the Cankaya Municipality became involved as well, and
      what was going to be a modest, single exhibit grew into a full-fledged
      event.

      "Young Art in Ankara 1" has now expanded into a 2-week-long affair
      that will include exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, photography,
      ceramics and site-specific installations, performances and related
      panel discussions. The exhibition venues will include the German
      Culture Center, the British Council, the Italian Cultural Council, the
      French Cultural Center and Cankaya Municipality's newly completed
      Contemporary Arts Center, as well as some less traditional sites like
      Karum shopping center and Kugulu Park; there will even be a nightly
      performance in one of the shop windows on Tunali Hilmi, the center of
      Ankara's up-scale shopping district.

      Can Ozgun, the arts and promotion officer for the British Council in
      Ankara, is excited about the prospects of the event, which fits in
      with what his job at the council is all about. "The British Council's
      first priority is to support and exhibit work by Turkish artists,"
      Ozgun explains. Their second role is to exhibit the work of British
      artists, and, in conjunction with "Young Art in Ankara 1," the British
      Council will most likely present pieces from its own rich collection,
      which includes the work of such artists as Howard Hodgkin, David
      Hockney and Henry Moore, while other arts centers are organizing
      special shows of work from artists abroad specifically for the event.

      In addition to bringing in artists, the participating arts centers are
      also sponsoring critics from their own countries. For Turkish artists,
      particularly those outside of Istanbul, the possibilities of having
      their work receive critical attention overseas is generally pretty
      low. "We want to introduce young Ankara artists to Europe," Bozkurt
      stresses. Not only will the visiting critics provide broader exposure
      for the work of Ankara artists, the organizers of "Young Art in Ankara
      1" hope that creating an awareness in Europe of what artists are doing
      in Ankara will act as a catalyst, generating new discussions about art
      in both places.

      "Ankara has amazing potential," Bozkurt says, but most of it is
      hidden, with the artists going about their business in their studios.
      One of the aims of "Young Art" is to bring art -- and artists --
      directly into people's daily lives. Including non-traditional venues
      such as Karum as backdrops for art within the framework of the event
      is one way of accomplishing this.

      For Husnu Dokak, one of the participating artists, the idea of
      exhibiting a work designed specifically for the windows of the German
      Cultural Center, which look out onto Ankara's main thoroughfare, was
      more than just a way of attracting attention: The site itself was
      chosen for the intrinsic meaning it adds to the artist's first public
      installation.

      Dokak, the head of the painting department at Hacettepe University, is
      interested in the interaction of symbols. His recent exhibit at
      Ankara's Akpinar Art Gallery contained work in which the
      superimposition of various images forced the viewer to extract meaning
      out of the interaction of the layers of symbols. The artist has
      planned two separate installations for the windows of the German
      Culture Center: One will use objects as symbols to explore the
      relationship between "East" and "West"; the other will deal with the
      murky relationship between visual art and Islam, especially as it
      exists in Turkey, a country in which the interdiction Islam places on
      representation has not prevented the development of a rich tradition
      of painting and sculpture.

      "Maybe this will be a little shocking, it may surprise people, get
      some kind of a reaction, positive or negative; in the end, it's a way
      to gauge people's reaction," says Dokak, whose work leaves itself
      open-ended to a multiplicity of meanings, provided by each individual
      viewer. It is this sense of "possibility" that connects Dokak's work
      to the general theme of the "Young Art" event: "Interior/exterior,
      possibilities, conditions."

      Although Zekiye Sarikartal says she didn't think about the theme that
      much when she was designing her piece for "Young Art in Ankara 1," she
      does see a relationship between the installation she has planned for
      Karum and the idea of "interior/exterior."

      "This is an interior work, but it's also an exterior work because it's
      not inside a gallery, but a public space," says Sarikartal, an
      instructor at Bilkent University, who chose Karum as the site for her
      installation both because of its physical attributes -- the very high
      ceilings -- and because of the many visitors who are drawn to the
      shopping center. "[Karum] is a modern place, and it attracts so many
      people, especially young people. Also, poor young people come to
      wander, not to shop, because not everybody can shop there. There is a
      gap," she says, between the ideas of Kemalism and the position of
      Turkish people today, and it is this gap that she plans to focus on in
      her installation.

      In addition to the installations at Karum, there will also be
      performers from the Ankara State Opera wandering among the art and the
      shoppers.

      Another group of performers, the Ankara Sokak Oyunculari (Ankara
      Street Players), will be staging their presentation "Windows" as well,
      with one of the shop windows on Tunali Hilmi as their "stage." The
      group is associated with Ankara University's Faculty of Language,
      History and Geography, and its director, Helmut Gebeshuber, is an
      Austrian who has settled in Ankara. They have performed at other
      festivals, including the prestigious Assos Festival, and their work
      incorporates the use of masks, light and sound.

      These are just a few of the artists who will be presenting work as
      part of "Young Art in Ankara 1." The list of artists exhibiting work
      contains 35 names at the moment, and Bozkurt is busy day and night
      finalizing plans to ensure the event is a success. He is still working
      on organizing a series of panel sessions that will take place Nov. 5,
      6, and 7 with the German critic Rene Block, a former curator of the
      Istanbul Biennial and close friend of the influential German artist
      Joseph Bueys, and preparing an exhibition catalog, which is being
      printed with support from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and will
      hopefully be available when the exhibition opens in October.

      __________________________________________________________________
      Copyright 1997, Turkish Daily News. This article is redistributed with
      permission for personal use of TRKNWS-L readers. No part of this article
      may be reproduced, further distributed or archived without the prior
      permission of the publisher. Contact: Turkish Daily News Online on the
      Internet World Wide Web.

      For information on other matters please contact hk11 at tdn1.com
      __________________________________________________________________
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