• News
  • Oct 16, 2016

Changes ahead for Turkish art institution SALT

VASIF KORTUN, director of research and programs at SALT, Istanbul and Ankara, is set to leave his post by early 2017. Photo by Adam Golfer for ArtAsiaPacific.

Vasıf Kortun, the current director of research and programs at SALT, an exhibition and research platform in Istanbul and Ankara, will retire in early 2017. He will remain on SALT’s board of directors. An official announcement about his retirement will be made before the end of the year. The timing of his departure may depend on the re-opening of the SALT Beyoğlu building, which is currently undergoing renovations and is expected to reopen in early or mid-2017. Before SALT, Kortun had initiated and directed Platform Garanti, an exhibition space and artist residency program that operated from 2001 until 2010 when it was folded into SALT.

Kortun’s replacement is expected to be Meriç Öner, SALT’s associate director of research and programs, who developed projects on the histories of urbanism, design and architecture primarily in Turkey. Öner came to SALT after working with Pelin Derviş at Garanti Gallery, one of the three institutions (along with Platform Garanti and the Ottoman Imperial Bank Museum & Archives) that were merged to create SALT in 2011.

Also departing from SALT, before the end of the year, is November Paynter, who, along with Öner, is an associate director of research and programs and focuses on contemporary art. British-born Paynter previously worked with Kortun at Platform Garanti, and has lived in Istanbul since 2002. The departure of Paynter and then Kortun means SALT will have no senior-level curator with a background in contemporary art, at least in the short term.

By the middle of 2017, SALT hopes to be able to use the Beyoğlu building again. The municipality shuttered the building in January 2016 following an anonymous complaint filed with the prime minister’s office about the renovation of the historical building. SALT’s primary funder Garanti Bank, one of the largest in Turkey, appears to have negotiated for its reopening on the condition that the building conforms to the historical building codes—which means rebuilding the 19th-century apartment rooms that had been knocked out during the building’s previous rehabilitation by the studio of Aga Khan Prize-winning architect Han Tümertekin, in advance of SALT Beyoğlu’s opening in 2011.  

Since opening the first space on İstiklal Caddesi in 2011, SALT Beyoğlu has organized retrospectives of seminal Turkish artists such as Hüseyin Bahri Alptekin and Gülsün Karamustafa, as well as many research-driven group exhibitions about architecture, urbanism and cultural life in modern Turkey. Occupying one half of the former Ottoman Imperial Bank, SALT Galata opened in November 2011 and contains a research library, the Ottoman Bank’s archives, staff offices and conference rooms, and hosts exhibitions in its lower-level gallery and at spaces throughout the resplendent building. In April 2013, SALT Ulus opened in a small, centrally located building in Ankara in what was an annex to the former Ottoman bank.

Kortun declined to answer any specifics about his departure over email to ArtAsiaPacific, saying an official announcement would be forthcoming by the end of the year. He had earlier given two Turkish-language interviews in which he mentioned his retirement and the SALT staff has also been informed about the pending changes, so the decisions have become public knowledge. AAP will post updates as more information becomes available.

HG Masters is editor at large of ArtAsiaPacific. 

Back to News