The third edition of Frieze New York, which returns to its gigantic white tent on Randall’s Island Park from May 9 through May 12, features a remarkable 18 exhibitors from Asia, including a smart mix of established and emerging galleries from Japan, Korea, China, India, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Israel and Turkey.
Ankara gets a bad rap. From the Istanbul perspective, the Turkish capital is often considered a dull, functionary-filled, landlocked Anatolian city. But Ankara has its own charms and historical interest. In order to fully comprehend the project of the Republic of Turkey (declared in 1922) and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s ambitions to modernize the country (for better and worse), you have to see the city’s unique neo-classical and Bauhaus-inspired buildings, its wide boulevards, and the state institutions that were established there. Whereas Istanbul is steeped in Ottoman culture, Ankara boasts of its ancient Hittite and Roman roots, as well as its Modernist history. On the contemporary art front, the city is home to many artists as well as a pair of 30-year-old galleries, the state art museum, and the one-year-old SALT Ulus, alongside the artist-run space Torun.
The 13th Istanbul Biennial, with its unlikely question for a title —“Mom, am I a Barbarian?” (taken from a book of poems by Lale Müldür)—is centered around a series a challenging proposals about the meaning of citizenship, processes of urban development, forms of education, and the conditions of labor in the neoliberal city. It addressed the rapid, contested development of Istanbul and the modern megapolis at large, whose realization was interrupted by the Gezi Park protests of late May and June—an explosion of discontent at the authoritarian, sectarian policies of the Turkish government. While these recent (and still ongoing) social uprisings are not addressed directly, many of the underlining causes are—including the egregious urban planning policies that displace marginal communities and privilege corporations over citizens. At its more poetic moments, the exhibition reflected the spirit of the Gezi resistance in the suspended, unfinished, provisional, impermanent, transient and collaborative qualities of works by 88 artists and collectives. The week was bigger than the Biennial itself, however, with openings of new exhibitions at galleries and art spaces, a performance series and even a new art fair. Here’s a look around Istanbul in mid-September.