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  • Jul 15, 2019

Istanbul's Arter To Relaunch As Museum

* Last updated September 11, 2019

Istanbul nonprofit space Arter is relocating to a new building that will house its growing collection and serve as a multipurpose arts venue. Rendering of Arter’s new space by FluFoto. Courtesy Arter.

On July 15, the Istanbul art space Arter released details on the inaugural exhibition program at its new location in the Dolapdere district, a formerly industrial area adjacent to Taksim Square. The new museum is designed to house Arter’s expanding collection of more than 1,270 artworks, and to serve as a multipurpose arts venue. Arter will open its doors this September during the preview of the 16th Istanbul Biennial. 

The opening program will center on two group exhibitions featuring pieces drawn from Arter's permanent collection. The first show, tentatively titled “Saat Kaç? (What Time Is It?),” will "elaborate on the meaning and workings of memory in relation to home, objects, archives, history, archeology, land, borders, migration and representation." The exhibition takes inspiration from Sarkis's 1986 installation Çaylak Sokak, composed of objects that allude to personal memory as well as the work's wider political and cultural contexts. The second group exhibition will "explore the role of the museum by departing from an object-centered scope" through its focus on process-based art practices and the notion of "gesture." The inaugural exhibitions will feature Turkish and international artists including Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Banu Cennetoğlu, Harun Farocki, Nil Yalter, Rebecca Horn, Joseph Beuys, and Sigmar Polke. Arter expects to stage nine to twelve solo and group exhibitions per year. 

In addition to 3,000 square meters of gallery space spread across five floors, the Dolapdere building, designed by London-based Grimshaw Architects, will boast learning areas, theaters, a library, conservation laboratory, bookstore, and sculpture terrace. The new museum, including its collection, is valued at over USD 120 million. 

Arter relocated to the custom-designed 17,000-square-meter building earlier this year after nearly a decade of operating in a historic three-story building on Istiklal Avenue. Founded in 2010 by the Vehbi Koç Foundation (VKF), Arter has staged 35 solo and group exhibitions to date, as well as performances, workshops, and talks. As reported in The Art Newspaper, Arter director and VKF cultural adviser Melih Fereli characterized the Istiklal space as a “testing ground” for the expanded institution, which will support “contemporary artistic production across all disciplines, from music to dance, theatre to sonic arts, film to literature.” 

As part of its relaunch, Arter has a new board of directors, chaired by Koç Holding chairman Ömer M. Koç, and composed of Fereli; VKF president Erdal Yıldırım; collector Saruhan Doğan; writer and Arter’s ex-general coordinator Bahattin Öztuncay; and collector Ayşe Umur.

The foundation's former Istiklal site has been repurposed as a new VKF-operated exhibition space, Meşher. This venue will open its doors on September 13 with a group exhibition titled "Beyond the Vessel: Myths, Legends, and Fables in Contemporary Ceramics around Europe," organized in collaboration with Salisbury-based art center Messums Wiltshire.

Leora Joy Jones is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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