Neighbours – Contemporary Narratives from Turkey and Beyond.
Exhibition in Istanbul Modern, until 8 May.
Istanbul Modern presents an extensive selection of contemporary artworks from the vast geographical area of which Turkey is a part. 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. 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.
The conceptual framework of Georgean artist Eteri Chkadua’s painting, exhibited for the first time in Neighbours, emerged just prior to the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in 2008. By depicting a large dinner table called Ormotsi (“forty”), which is set forty days after a burial in the Caucasus, In Black displays how a tradition is translated in our day and how the past is preserved through this transformation.
As a result of research carried out in Istanbul for Neighbours, art collective Slavs and Tatars was invited by Istanbul Modern to create a new work. The installation Nose Twister, which includes a voice recording of Rüştü Asyalı, incorporates a seating area for viewers. For many years Slavs and Tatars has been examining the politics of language in Eurasia and exploring Turkic languages in regions such as China, particularly its autonomous Xinjiang region, and Turkey. Through the present work the duo reminds us of the Eastern origins of the Turkish language.
A program entitled Neighbour Films will be screened in April at Istanbul Modern Cinema in conjunction with the exhibition. The program consists of films from the geographical area that includes Turkey and its neighbors. Comprised of movies from the Middle East to the Balkans with an increasing visibility on the world stage because of the global media, Neighbour Films examine social and cultural changes accelerated by the new world order, local attitudes, national identity, settling historical accounts, and modernization