Four art institutions from Istanbul talk about their current activities and reflect on the cultural field in Turkey. Selen Ansen, Senior Curator at Arter, Çelenk Bafra, Director of SAHA, a studio and residency programme in Istanbul, Elif Kamisli, Exhibition Manager of the Istanbul Biennale and Öykü Özsoy, Chief Curator at Istanbul Modern.
Moderated by Mike Bode, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul. Introduction by Lena Malm, Head of Visual Arts, IASPIS.
Selen Ansen, Senior Curator, Arter.
Selen Ansen is an art theoretician, author and curator working as “senior curator” at Arter (Istanbul), a non-profit institution initiated by the Vehbi Koç Foundation for the support and promotion of contemporary artistic practices. Following her master’s degree in Modern Literature and in Cinema & Audiovisual Studies from Université Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, Ansen received her Ph.D. in Theory and Practice of the Arts in 2001 from the same university. She worked as a lecturer of art theory and philosophy of art in several art and design schools of France including Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Strasbourg. Between 2009 – 2015, she was Assistant Professor in the Philosophy and Social Thought and Comparative Literature MA programmes at Istanbul Bilgi University.
Ansen has formed her initial connection to Arter in 2011 with the exhibition of Berlinde de Bruyckere (The Wound, 2012) she curated. Joining Arter’s curatorial team on a full-time basis in 2015, she has curated the exhibitions Marc Quinn (The Sleep of Reason, Arter, 2014), It takes two to make an accident (HISK, Gent, BE), Not All That Falls Has Wings (Arter, 2015), Words Are Very Unnecessary (Arter, 2019– 2020), Céleste Boursier-Mougenot (offroad v.2, Arter 2019), Cevdet Erek (Bergama Stereotip, Arter, 2019–2020), KP Brehmer: The Big Picture (Arter,2020 – 2021), Candeğer Furtun (Arter, 2021 – 2022), Locus Solus (Arter, 2022), Ahmet Doğu İpek: A Halo of Blackness Upon Our Heads (Arter, 2022), You Know Who (Abdulmecid Efendi Mansion, 2022), I Am Nobody. Are You Nobody Too? (Meşher, 2022) and the Performance Programme Celebrate / Participate / Resonate (Arter, 2019 – 2020). Anne Wenzel’s Carte Blanche at the Schiedam Stedelijk Museum (NL), which is scheduled to open in July 2023, is among the projects she is currently working on.
Ansen has also contributed to several international publications comprising monographs and exhibition catalogues. Her most recent contributions include the monographs Jan Van Imschoot: The End Is Never Near (Fonds Mercator, Bruxelles, 2022) and Peter Buggenhout: Erotism (Distanz Verlag, Berlin, publication scheduled for June 2023).
Çelenk Bafra, Director of SAHA—Supporting Contemporary Art from Turkey and SAHA Studio.
Çelenk Bafra is a curator and the director of the SAHA – Supporting Contemporary Art from Turkey and the SAHA Studio since 2018. From 2011 to the end of 2017, she was the curator and the director of exhibitions and programs at Istanbul Modern. Between 2001 and 2010, she worked at Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) and assumed various roles, such as the director of the Istanbul Biennial, the artistic coordinator of Saison de la Turquie in France, the founding director of the Studio of Turkey at Cité des Arts in Paris and the advisor of the Pavilion of Turkey in the Venice Biennale.
Bafra curated exhibitions and programs in museums and art institutions in Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK. She writes reviews for publications and periodicals and produces and presents a weekly podcast “Hariçten Sanat” [Art from the Exterior] broadcast on Mondays on Açık Radyo. She is a member of CIMAM and AICA Turkey; and was appointed by the French Ministry of Culture a member of the board of directors of MUCEM in Marseille until 2016.
As a curator, she focuses on group exhibitions based on research and production: “School Square Galatasaray” (2018), “An Exile on Earth” (2018-2019), “Harbor” (2017), “TILL IT’S GONE” (2015-2016), “Plurivocality” (2014), “Neighbours” (2014), “Modernity?” (2013), “La La La Human Steps & Istanbul Modern Rotterdam” (2012), “Uncanny Encounters” (2011), “Ahmet Cevdet Bey Presents: Tunnel of Fear” (2011), “Fantasie et Ile” (2010), “Emploi Saisonnier” (2009 – 2010), “60 Ans 60 Vidéos” (2009) as well as international programs such as World Weather Network (2021 – 2024), the Octopus Programme (2021 – 2022), YAP: Young Architects Program, Artists’ Film International, and Museums Talk series (From the USA, UK, Germany),(all 2011-2018).
Elif Kamisli, Exhibition Manager, Istanbul Biennale.
Elif Kamisli is an exhibition maker and writer based in Istanbul, Turkey. She studied political science, cultural studies and cultural experience design in Istanbul and Rome. Kamisli has been the exhibition manager of the Istanbul Biennial since 2014. Her recent book, “Notebooks”, was published by NEON Foundation, Athens and presented with an installation in the “PORTALS” exhibition in 2021. Kamisli co-authored “Best Wishes” with the artist Volkan Aslan in 2020 and was the editor of İnci Eviner’s artist book “Co-action Device: A Study” (2014). She was a curatorial team member for the “Colori” exhibition realised at GAM, Turin and Castello di Rivoli in 2017. The same year, she curated a digital show titled “I Dreamt a Dream the Other Night” for British Council. She organised solo exhibitions with international artists between 2011-2013 in Istanbul. Kamisli was an assistant curator at MAXXI, Rome, in 2010 and worked at the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009. She was a teaching assistant at Istanbul Bilgi University between 2004 and 2008. Kamisli regularly contributes to Sanat Dünyamız, a leading art magazine in Turkey. Her essays embrace a personal narrative connecting daily life with history and different artistic practices.
With over 20 years of international experience, Istanbul Modern’s Chief Curator Öykü Özsoy has held various positions in exhibitions, art projects, programs and publications at museums and art institutions including Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, Platform Garanti (ended its activities and transferred its resources to SALT since 2011), Istanbul; Intercult, Sweden; Wilhelm-Hack- Museum and Heidelberger Kunstverein in Germany. She has served as a curator at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art between 2017 – 2020, and currently works as the museum’s Chief Curator, where she is responsible for developing the artistic programs and overseeing the curatorial department. At Istanbul Modern, she has curated exhibitions including “Interactions” (2021), “Selma Gürbüz: This Place We Call World”(2020), “The Event of a Thread” supported by Germany’s Institute for International Cultural Relations (co-curated with Susanne Weiss and Inka Gressel, 2019) and Istanbul Modern’s collection exhibition “In Pursuit of the Present” (2018).
Özsoy also organized exhibitions at various institutions in Istanbul including ALT Art Space, Milli Reasurans Art Galery, DEPO, Hasköy Yarn Factory as well as the Westfalicher Kunstverein in Germany and INSA Art Space in South Korea. She was the co-director of the first international artist’s residency program in Turkey from 2002 through 2010 and initiated artist residency collaborations with institutions such as Ashkal Alwan, Beirut; Delfina Foundation, London; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo; Spike Island, Bristol.
Özsoy was awarded as an international fellow curator by Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) for the years between 2013 – 2015 and she was a 2019 Tate Intensive Fellow organized by Tate Modern. Together with the museum’s curatorial department, Öykü Özsoy is currently working on the opening of Istanbul Modern’s new building designed by Renzo Piano and its inaugural exhibitions and programs.
Mike Bode, Counsellor of Culture Affairs at the Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul.
Mike Bode is a Swedish visual artist, researcher and organizer. He is currently serving as the Counsellor of Culture Affairs at the Consulate General of Sweden in Istanbul since august 2019. Bodes artistic practice frequently takes its starting point in investigations of place seen in relation to societal, historical and political shifts and the effects of new technologies. His artistic work, which is more often than not collaborative, has been presented and exhibited widely internationally. As an organizer Bode has curated several exhibitions, conferences and talks and was one of the initiators of the Swedish interregional contemporary art project New Småland. Bode was the first visual artist in Sweden to receive a Ph.D. in artistic research from Gothenburg University.