Sunday, May 1, 2011

Artbosphorus enters the Ai Weiwei zone, launching avant-garde criticism

Avant-garde comes to Artbosphorus 2011

Artbosphorus 20ll, Istanbul

The Straits of Bosphorus appeared a golden-orange, sweeping and broad necklace of textured, speckled waves with its silhouetted ships, minarets jetting proudly into the emerging night, blinking lights of a vast Byzantine-Arab culture, wrapped around a vibrant, exotic and mysterious city.

West meets East

I was age19, and it really did seem like I was passing from west to east, my first entry into Arab culture.

Exotic, mysterious, conflicting, fast and slow at the same, all in a rhythm of its own, Istanbul.

Artbosphorus, Istanbul 1 May 2011

A city self-propelled, like the evening my Iraqi Christian friends and I enjoyed a thrilling gravity-driven taxi ride down the surly slopes of Istanbul.

The driver ran out of gas a couple minutes before. He simply glided to the next petrol station.

All this came flushing back as I contemplated writing this story about Artbosphorus, closing 1 May (today) in Istanbul.

It started 28 April.

Artbosphorus turns in on itself

Artbosphorus´ new avant-garde entry into the Ai Weiwei world of art meets politics appears a natural progression as Turkey straddles traditional visions of east versus west.

Unlike last year, the fair´s gallery artists are nearly all Turkish and live in-country.

Last year, Artbosphorus fielded 136 artists, half of them from foreign galleries, mainly Bulgaria, Italy and Russia, in that order.

Artbosphorus 2011

Bulgaria, 37 gallery artists strong in 2010, has disappeared, according to the Artbosphorus website.

Likewise, those gallery-represented artists from Russia, Italy, Germany and a handful of other east European countries are gone from the current roster.

Notable exception—Gallery Kent of New York--four artists with Turkish names.

Yet, on 24 April the fair´s curator, Denizhan Ozer, told The Hurriyet, an Istanbul newspaper, that Artbosphorus would “bring together 300 artists from 20 countries, including the U.S., Italy, Island (sic), Poland, Armenia, Japan, Germany, France, Serbia, Korea and England.”

(According to a bio online, Ozer, born 1962 in Turkey, is currently based in London.)

If that´s the case, the majority of international artists presented installations, performance art, video art, workshops and music performances, all folded into this year´s multi-disciplinary fair, part of a makeover.

Ozer said Artbosphorus for the first time displays avant-garde works critical of Turkey´s society, thus entering the Ai Weiwei arena of social criticism through art.

“Instead of thinking of art as a concept of trade, we carry the concept to another dimension, and we choose to exhibit also non-buyable art in this fair,” said Ozer.

Artbosphorus 2011

(I called Artbosphorus´ two phone numbers in Istanbul for comment, no answer, which is understandable, but sent a detailed e-mail with questions, so I can amend and update this story when and if I receive a response.)

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

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