Istanbul hosted two international art fairs this month. ArtInternational (16 – 18 September 2013) was a new event in the city featuring contemporary art. Over sixty galleries from Turkey, the Middle East, Europe and the US participated. 4 – 5,00 attended on the opening day. And at the close of the fair an estimated € 21,000,000 in sales to collectors was reported.
Challenges this year included the Gezi Park protests in June that began with opposition to construction of a mall that would eliminate one of the few public spaces in the heart of Istanbul. These soon spread to other parts of the country and broadened to include complaints about Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies that secularists claimed were limiting personal freedom and moving the country in a more religiously conservative direction.
Fulya Erdemci, curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial (14 September – 20 October 2013), decided to embrace the controversy rather than ignore the situation. The theme for this year’s events Mom, Am I Barbarian? focuses on the place of public art in society. All exhibitions are free but the biennial will not install art in public spaces.
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