Archive for Contemporary Istanbul 2009

Censor in art

Posted in art with tags , , , , on December 8, 2009 by artodisiac

While I was walking in the corridors of Contemporary Istanbul last week, a guy thrusted a newspaper into my hands. It immediately drew my attention since there was an attractive headline: China steps in to censor works of art. Living in a country where bureaucrats split on to artworks from time to time or prime ministers sue anyone including many artists criticizing the government, I sometimes fear that my country will face the same thing very soon.

China celebrated the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China last month by parades and performances, with promises of increasing openness by the leadership. On the other hand the ministry of culture has quitely introduced measures to censor works to be imported or exported across Chinese borders. What a frightening similarity; celebrating the 86th anniversary of the republic with promises to follow the contemporary doctrines of the founder Atatürk while permanently closing the cultural centers named after him with no replacements or logical explanations to public with the hope to make people forget about it in the fast moving agenda of the country. Distressing enough, they somehow succeded in it.

Anyway,  coming back to the main subject of this entry, under the rules introduced in China, works of creative aesthetic significance including paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, photography, installations and other work for export must be accompanied by a description of the content.


Works by the Gao Brothers (above Catching the Prostitute,2007) was rejected several times with respect to new rules.


If that is not agreeable to the ministry, it can prevent export. In regard to works being imported into China, it states: No unit or individual may sell, display, exhibit or transmit exported artworks without approval.

For foreign art exhibitions in China, an exhaustive list of documentation must be provided 45 days prior to import.

The wording of the declaration in China makes the announcement sound temporary but galleries fear that the measure is a long term ruling that, while affecting art from all periods, will particularly apply to contemporary works. The motivation seems principally political to chinese galleries since the censors are obsessed with Mao and the Cultural Revolution issues; nudity for example do not bother them at all.

A new trend in investment: art

Posted in art with tags , , on December 6, 2009 by artodisiac

It was a mistake to take the 7.30 pm shuttle to go home on a night of a national football match. As it was not enough, I had to sit next to one of my instructors. I am not a talkative type normally, especially after a long day at uni and mostly seem distant to people I am not friends with.  I thought how unlucky I was while trying to find something to say in order not to be seen as a weird fart. However, to my surprise, our chat turned out to be very interesting. Although we stuck in the traffic for 2.5 hours, which normally is a huge torture, I didn’t realize how time passed while we were discussing the state of art in turkey.

As a visiting artist from Germany who is familiar with the international arena, she said that the art market in turkey seems very promising for artists and collectors are increasing in number every passing day despite the global economic crisis. She said that collecting art work has become the emerging investment tool. I wasn’t so sure of that until I went to a art fair the very next day. When I walked around the pieces of art, I was surprised that most of the works were sold (some sold more than once).

Contemporary Istanbul 2009

One of milestones of Turkish contemporary painting Burhan Doğançay’s work “Blue Symphony” sold for 2.2 million Turkish Liras just a few weeks ago. This figure is the highest price ever paid for a work by a living Turkish artist. A few days after the sale, the buying company admitted that it paid this high price in order to revive the Turkish art market.

Despite the global crisis, Contemporary Istanbul continues to get richer every year with additional events and is being organized this year with increased interest and participation from galleries as well.

Last week, art lovers and Turkey’s high society rushed to the CI 2009 art fair in hot pursuit of the latest trend in prestigious investment opportunities: contemporary art.

Local and foreign galleries were located on two floors of the fair area. The abundance of Berliner galleries was striking on the first floor. According to fair organizers, Contemporary Istanbul invited the Berlin Gallery Owners Association, German galleries and collectors to the fair due to the 20th anniversary of the launch of Istanbul and Berlin as sister cities. In the area titled “Art Form Berlin” in the Rumeli Hall, visitors saw very creative works of German contemporary art. There were also many works from eastern artists. For instance, this year the fair’s guest country of honor was Syria.

By bringing a different dimension to art events in Turkey, Contemporary Istanbul  brought the world’s contemporary art scene to the city together with collectors. In addition to foreign collectors, Turkish collectors are also showing more interest in contemporary artwork, resulting in Turkish contemporary artwork becoming more valuable in the international arena. Millions are being paid for the work of some of these artists.

Last year, artwork valued at $12.5 million was displayed at Contemporary Istanbul and sales were strong. This year, when the sales of Turkish contemporary artwork at both Turkish and foreign auctions are considered, it can be seen that the global crisis has not affected art. As a result, CI’09 organizers are expecting intensive demand from collectors. The contemporary artwork being purchased and sold at high prices shows that the culture and art industry has much to gain from this field.