MSFAU Tophane-i Amire Culture and Art Centre Single Dome Hall in Istanbul hosts “Ottomans and Europeans: Pasts and Prospectives” exhibition, curated by Beral Madra and Juan Esteban Sandoval. The exhibition presents the works of Leone Contini, Erol Eskici, Eda Gecikmez, Naci Güneş Güven, Driant Zeneli and Mary Zygouri.
The exhibition, realised for the artists to extend their individual ideas to the public through the artworks, presents an expedient ground for expanding and complementing the opinion of the artists about the existing cultural and socio-political context and problems. Inspired by the Battle of Gallipoli, Leone Contini’s work is conceived on the former battlefield. Erol Eskici’s work discusses the demographic, politic upheavals; displacements and handovers, while tackling with the geopolitical in terms of geology on a symbolic and indirect representation. Eda Gecikmez developed her project on the African refugees whom she met in Genoa. Naci Güneş Güven’s computer generated composition of Ottoman tombstones brings a particular and arbitrary interpretation to collective images of Ottoman grave typology and culture of death.
Digging like a virtual contemporary archaeologist, Driant Zeneli’s video work Venezia was realised in the southern town of Antalya. It evokes a shift of observation on history, focusing on the image and the imaginary triggered by a holiday resort that imitates Venice in its architectural design. Mary Zygouri has developed her project on a modest but historical hammam founded in 1911 in an Istanbul district of Dolapdere. In her performance enacted in the hammam on 30 January 2015 with the active participation of people of Armenian, Greek and Turkish origin, she interpreted the socio-historical meaning of the place, which according to the three Greek, Armenian and Ottoman inscriptions on its red ochre façade, was called The Bath of Constitution (Meşrutiyet Hamamı) with reference to the Second Constitution Era (Young Turk Revolution), and changed to Freedom Hamam (Hürriyet Hamamı) in 1923. The video and the installation on the show are the leftovers of that collective experience.
During June and July 2015, the exhibition artists came together for an artist residency programme named “Blind Date Sessions” in Cittadellarte-Pistoletto Foundation’s centre in Biella, where they had the opportunity to build theoretical collaborations and dialogue with senior participants Gülçin Aksoy, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Güven İncirlioğlu, Adrian Paci, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Igiaba Scego. The works to be featured at the exhibition titled Ottomans and Europeans: Pasts and Prospectives, are the artistic outcomes of these encounters. The exhibition is realised as the Turkey leg of Ottomans and Europeans: Reflecting on Five Centuries of Cultural Relations project supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union, and led by Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR) Brussels.
Since 2012, the Ottomans and Europeans: Reflecting on Five Centuries of Cultural Relations project proposes a journey through five centuries of shared cultural history between Europe and Turkey to change perceptions of citizens and artists from both sides. Partners of the project are Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR) Brussels from Belgium, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) from Turkey, National Museum in Krakow from Poland, Cittadellarte-Pistoletto Foundation from Italy, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna from Austria, and Witte de With for Contemporary Art from The Netherlands. The project partners organised exhibitions, conferences and artist residencies in various locations.