ci comments

Glenn Scott Wright - Director of the Victoria Miro / London

We knew that with the ambition and passion of Kamiar Maleki behind it, Contemporary Istanbul would be a tremendous success and our expectations were more than met with a busy stand and exceptional interest from sophisticated and knowledgeable collectors. Joining forces with the Biennial to create an Istanbul art week was a very smart move, bringing a dynamic engagement and focus to both events and offering opportunities for International dialogue and exchange with the wider art community. 

Mila Askarova - CEO & Founder of the Gazelli Art House / London

It was great to be back in Istanbul, and to take part in Contemporary Istanbul for the first time this year. Having reopened our remodelled gallery space in Baku, we hope to continue growing on the local and regional collector base both through the fair and during the year. The dynamic nature of the fair has made us very hopeful for the future editions and look forward to taking part and supporting the art scene further.   




Natalya Andakulova - Founder of Andakulova Gallery / Dubai

Contemporary Istanbul was a very successful event. We would like to congratulate the team for a job well done. We are very proud to be one of the exhibitors in this prestigious art fair.



Suela J. Cennet - Director of The Pill / Istanbul

CI has proven to be a very productive and strong fair for us in terms of the feedback we have received. It was also an opportunity to get to know the public and establish a close relationship with local collectors. We are extremely proud to see 4 that we could introduce our gallery at such a short time since we opened 6 months ago. It has been a great motivating factor to continue under the turbulent circumstances.

Sera Sade - Director of Galeri Siyah Beyaz / Ankara

Our experience of the fair was perfect. The sales by international collectors has increased dramatically and we have had the chance to meet various new people. We are also very glad and honoured that our artist Ardan Ozmenoglu was awarded with the artist residency program provided by Basu Art Foundation at the fair.

Yashian Schauble - Founder of ACAF Projects / Shanghai

This year’s crowd was sophisticated and curious, and enjoyed both our group and solo shows. They were highly intellectual, and I feel very satisfied. Turkish audiences appreciate both the emerging and well established artists exhibited at the fair and this is fantastic.

Carlos Duran Besta - Director of Galeria Senda / Barcelona

We are very happy with the response of the city and improvement of the fair. The reduction in the number of exhibitors has proved very well in terms of circulation and quality. It is very impressive to see people engaged with creativity and coming to the fair to support art.

Yeşim Turanlı - Pi Artworks Founder & Director / Istanbul & London

We have participated in Contemporary Istanbul in its 11th year and will also certainly come back in 2017. We have sold various artworks by all of our artists and there was a lot of engagement from visitors as well. Notably we sold Kemal Seyhan’s works to a collector from New York and also made lots of other sales amongst which were a work to a London-based and another to Bahrain-based collector. We also met new younger collectors which I believe is very important.

Can Yavuz - Director of Yavuz Gallery / Singapore

This year’s CI has proven that the current political landscape in Turkey has not dampened the spirit and enthusiasm of art lovers and collectors from Turkey and the region.

Bertrand Scholler - Founding Partner of 55 Bellechasse / Paris

We had museum directors and individual buyers considering purchasing works from our artists as well as discussing possible new commissions. CI is one of the strongest fairs we have participated in, in terms of quality and number of attendees. We look forward to coming back and love Istanbul. It is of course a very tough time for the whole world, but people from Turkey faced those difficulties in solidarity which we find very impressive.

Moiz Zilberman - Founder of Galeri Zilberman / Istanbul, Berlin

I believe the number of visitors set a new record and a large number of notable collectors attended the fair. The audience enjoyed the fact that there were fewer galleries exhibiting. I feel quite content with the sales as well as the possibilities for us to meet new and young collectors. Collectors’ Stories was also a great addition to the fair this year.

Tansa Mermerci Ekşioğlu - Founder of SPOT Projects & Collector / Istanbul

There is a hard time ahead of us in the field of arts and culture. The dynamics, balance, perception, demans and priorities are in constant change. The effects of this situation ca also be felt in art. What we should do is to continue what we have been doing. SPOT Projects starts its membership and seminar program on October 11th in its fifth year. We are starting a new season during which we will deal with various interdisciplinary subjects through dynamic topics and contents dedicated to the past 5 years. We will continue to experience the unifying and healing power of art as well as its tolerance at SPOT.

As I have already mentioned, the period we are going through requires us to continue what we are doing. CI also relies on art, its unifying power and has been organized through tremendous effort, time and work. I think this valuable formation should be appreciated and noticed even more in the current conjoncture. As a platform which has improved, advanced and received an increasing international recognition since its foundation, CI is among the most powerful art fairs of the region. CI has contributed to the management of perception and information by introducing Turkish arts and culture as well as its actors both locally and internationally. As SPOT Projects, we enjoy being a part of the initiatives section of the fair.


Michelle Maigret - C24 Gallery Director / New York

I have found the art market in Turkey to be very vibrant and international. I have been at CI the past two years and am quite impressed with the high attendance along with the numerous sales made. The spectators line up outside the fair before the doors open and linger in the booth when the announcement is broadcast over the loudspeaker that the fair is closing for the day. I think CI is expanding every year, and going forward we will see more European and Middle Eastern collectors attending CI. I think we have already begun to see an outpouring of creativity coming from Turkey because of its geographic location. History has shown when there is turmoil in a locale a surge in creative output increases whether its visual, theatrical, musical or a written manuscript. The current social and political turmoil in Turkey is already bringing focus to the country from the world-at-large. The International art market will be paying close attention to Turkey's artists to see what creations rise from the unrest.

CI has a wonderful balance of Turkish galleries and those in the region dispersed with international galleries from Asia, Europe and the United States. The fair visitor can really contemplate the region's voice and compare and contrast it to what is occurring on the international scene. A few collectors from Western countries have told me they come to CI to scout out contemporary artists in the region to add to their collection. The international quotient of the fair brings the local community to see what is happening globally. It's a very good formula. There is something for everyone. C24 Gallery has been participating in many fairs all over the world and we have found CI to be our most successful fair in every aspect. We look forward to this fair every year.

Haro Cümbüşyan - collectorspace Director & Collector / Istanbul

No doubt that what's happening around us is providing ample material to artists (and satirist.)  Not just in Turkey, but all around the world, this seems to be the right time to take a critical look at what we take for granted. We're certainly facing some severe issues that require our immediate attention: The distress of millions of refugees, the threat of no-bounds terrorism, the failure of democracy to protect pluralism against misguided populism, the illusion of meritocracy as a justification for ruinous neocapitalism are only some of today's major problems. Our failure in finding workable solutions in the short run may be forcing us to suspend our thinking and questioning in favor of running and hiding or blindly trying quick fixes. However, it is precisely these moments when we need to stop to think and to question. And art allows us to do that.  It offers new readings of history, different perspectives onto current events, and alternative interpretations of our vision for the future, if nothing else, at a very basic level, art reminds us that there're multiple ways of seeing things. I believe what lies at the core of most our problems is the polarization of people into this camp or the opposite, So, I can only hope that more people will engage with art, and discover that there're many more interesting and relevant discussions to be had out there than a one-liner on a single issue that those camps are willing to kill or die for. 

I sincerely believe that the thinking people of Istanbul and the region, who see the opportunities for intellectual discourse dwindle, will greatly appreciate CI's commitment to supporting a dynamic art scene in the city. I can imagine that it takes a tremendous effort to put together an art fair of CI's scale, but I believe it'll be rewarded by an equally committed audience who's hungry for such positive occasions for dialogue. I hope that highest caliber local and international galleries would take this opportunity of establishing strong ties with this audience by bringing top quality artworks to the fair, and engaging in meaningful conversations that those type of works facilitate and demand.

Oktay Duran - Art ON Istanbul Founder / Istanbul

As I always say, art is the ultimate harbor to take shelter at times when political and social circumstances are bleak. There was a t-shirt design I was very fond of and which read "They call it chaos we call it home.” The complex structure in Turkey can provide a starting point and dynamism for artists. In times like these, enhancement of financial investment in the arts and culture provides an opportunity for a more rapid recovery in society. As Art On Istanbul, we have increased our investment in the exhibition program and fair attendance by disregarding the pessimistic scenarios about the future of the art market. We have focused more on the general improvement of our activities and have also encouraged our artists towards this direction. Every step in the cultural arena ultimately serves to build a self-confidence that would penetrate all parts of the society. The number of galleries and audience were considerably less at the time when I started to build my own collection. A more optimistic picture awaits the new generation as the quality of the artworks and the international reception improves.

Contemporary Istanbul (CI) is one of the most dynamic and prevalent organisations in Turkey’s art calendar which gives impetus to the arts and cultural sector. It especially plays a significant role in exploring and assessing the current state of contemporary art production. CI has established a constantly improving structure with the addition of Plugin, CI Editions, Collectors’ Stories and increased the number of its exhibitors and audience as well as its international reputation. Offering an exciting arena for galleries and artists to create and work, the fair has also had an impact in encouraging collectorship and the development of existing collections.

Mehmet Ali Bakanay - Collector / Istanbul

It is true that social and political turmoil might trigger and provoke the art scene and artistic creativity. Art creates an autonomous and more efficient source of power at times like this. China and Iran are among the best examples to support this case; and Germany, of course. The general sense of art and artists who were extremely oppressed during the Third Reich from 1933-1945 prove how German culture and its art scene reacted towards the "social cleansing” and Nazification during that time. The material for conceptual art derives from the situations artists have experienced themselves. I think the artistic production since the Gezi Park protests has been more impressive and peculiar and I believe there is yet more to come… Art has always helped us to get a pure and fresh perspective of things at such moments.  Reviewing the current situation, I believe art, in terms of its production, stands at a substantial and different ground. However I also believe that many artworks and artists have not yet come to light. The artistic production of today will create a rich archive for the days to come. On the other hand, I am also aware that actors of the art scene such as art institutions, galleries and art fairs are passing through a very difficult time. 

Despite all the setbacks, sharing art in all its forms is extremely important during such times. The fact that Contemporary Istanbul continues to remain consistent and prevalent strengthens its role as one of the biggest supporters of turning Istanbul into a cultural hub. At an international level, I also believe that such determination is one of the most important means to promote our country.

Bige Örer - Istanbul Biennial Director / Istanbul

Since its establishment in 1973, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) has been contributing to the development of culture and art in Turkey. It has continuously been carrying out a number of important projects and events since its founding such as the Istanbul Biennial. We believe that creative development highly contributes to a process of constructive dialogue which make up our history and help to build a better future. Cultural and artistic activities are needed most during difficult times as a force to bring people together. Encouraging the exchange and development of ideas, establishing a dialogue, pushing the boundaries and provoking a discussion are all very important for us – such ideals contribute to the formation of a solid foundation for artistic and cultural development. In this context, the international and local artistic and cultural projects anticipated during the coming period need to be continued and supported in order to better understand the past and present and especially ensure a better future. 

Scheduled to take place in the fall of 2017, we are sure that the 15th Istanbul Biennial will create a space for a universal language and an everlasting artistic and intellectual discussion. We come across different forms of reality, perspectives and interpretations in the works of Elmgreen & Dragset who have an incredible sense of humor and ability to express their ideas, which guarantees a great experience to a wide audience. I believe that interaction and communication with one’s environment, learning and thinking together, and employing different artistic practices will be beneficial to everyone.

Leyla Alaton - Collector / Istanbul

Istanbul plays a very important role as a cultural hub, hosting a dynamic contemporary art scene with more than 40 contemporary art galleries, private art collections, art institutions and the biennial. An effective art market derives its power from its regional status and we are lucky that Istanbul acts as a highly significant center within the greater region. Today more than ever, I believe in the tolerance and unity inspired by art. Art certainly has a healing affect. Of course, it is saddening that certain projects are being postponed or canceled, but the ones that prevail will certainly have an impact on the spread of the spirit of tolerance. The Turkish art market has improved in spite of several tensions the country has experienced in the last 10 years. There has also been an increase in the number of Turkish galleries, art-related institutions and foundations. Private collectorship has come into prominence. The number of companies which invest in corporate collections have increased and expanded their existing collections. I don’t believe we need to be entirely pessimistic. It is especially during these days that we need art and the scene that surrounds it the most. Art and the creative industries in a broader sense will be among the leading factors that to shape the country’s future.

Contemporary Istanbul is one of the most prominent actors of the Turkish art scene. It has created an immense opportunity for Turkish society to get in touch with art and to be introduced to the art scene. Istanbul has caught the attention of a wide audience and has especially stood out with its Biennial, successive openings of museums, galleries, and finally Contemporary Istanbul. Being a member of the Advisory Board myself, I have closely observed the great effort behind this work. The necessity of such projects to exist is especially of great importance during such difficult times. I am confident that CI will provide new additions to its program with 11 years of experience and strength. For instance, this year’s edition introduces a new exhibition titled Collectors’ Stories which will feature selected artworks from the collections of 60 collectors. It is a very important project that will guide the galleries and collectors. CI and international events with similar spirit are extremely significant thanks to these innovations and the positive message they spread out for the publicity of Turkey. Compared to other artistic hubs, Istanbul can be said to symbolize the future. We still have an immense load of work to do. There is also great potential which will only come out if different actors of the art scene cooperate. I think Contemporary Istanbul will be the guiding force in this attempt.

Şükran Moral - Artist / Istanbul

Altough Turkey has a conflicting geography, artists continue to produce, cry out and do not give up their resistance. The art market occasionally stagnates, but let us not offer any excuse, the art scene was already engaged in self-censorship; especially those who work in the art industry. On March 20, when people were afraid of going out to the streets following the bloody bomb attack, I made a performance in the first 24 hours. Singing love songs on public squares, I broadcasted the whole performance simultaneously on Periscope. The sense of isolation and the scared state of the people was so sad I felt that I had to react. Despite all, Istanbul is a highly attractive, troublesome and exciting city to make art. Art can also be practiced in a world of censorship and prohibitions. Art can only be executed through resistance and we have the potential to create alternatives without yielding to the cowardice of institutions. This is the very reason why I have been making hit-and-run performances for so long. Hitler used to have no tolerance for abstract art and burned the books as well as paintings. However, the works that reflect that period could never be reduced to ashes and still hold a very substantial position in art history. For me, art is a passion, a way of defiance and living. The lasting attitudes will be the ones that are outside the artistic realm protected by reconciliatory institutions, that is artistic officialdom. We are going through a process whereby cultural institutions, museums, galleries and theatres are being destroyed. For sure, we have to move forward in spite of these circumstances, albeit with fewer people. I am not pessimistic in any way. Nobody can take away our brushes as my brush is my mind and heart. We need the irony, rebellious spirit and active romanticism of art. The unifying power of art will guide us. 

Contemporary Istanbul (CI) has undertaken projects that would normally be the work of museums and biennials, when these institutions were very scarce. It went beyond the boundaries of an ordinary art fair and carried out very important projects. We love to critique but we seldom provide constructive criticism. For this reason, it plays an important in not only bringing the international art world to Istanbul, but also enabling contact between the two artistic scenes. I think CI will again prove its significance as existing art institutions restrain themselves due to self-censorship where it is hard to even recognise their presence.

Ferit Meriçten - Ferko Chairman & Collector / Istanbul

Art is a supranational language that improves societies, prevents segregation, makes life and its flow more aesthetic and narrates social issues in its most naive state. Looking at our immediate surroundings, we think it is most needed particularly during the recent years. 

Contemporary Istanbul stands out as the leading art event in Turkey and the region which renovates itself each year by maintaining its quailty. CI contributes to the social perception of art, the icrease in the reputation of Turkish collectors and artists as well as the local art economy and the international publicity of our contemporary artists. Last year Contemporary Istanbul hosted 102 art galleries and 790 artists from 24 countries and 28 cities and I find the prediction that the number of visitors may exceed 100,000 this year a truly exciting development.

Deniz Ova - Istanbul Design Biennial Director / Istanbul

We are extremely excited to be working on the highly anticipated third edition of Istanbul Design Biennial which will take place in October to provide a global scale ground for innovative approaches and creative thinking in the field of design. We believe that the cultural and artistic events can serve as an important asset to overcome the turbulent times we have been going through and that we can regain ourselves by embracing the same values and thus strengthen our communication with the world.  We continue to work with enthusiasm, devotion and thanks to your continuing support to realize this aim.

I think CI contributes to the recovery process and to maintain the continuity of contemporary art and culture by carrying on its work as one of the most indispensable events of the cultural life in Istanbul. It is the duty of us all to make ourselves heard and empower our relations with the world. As the design biennial continues to run, CI will provide a good opportunity to explore and understand the beautiful texture of our city. It will be an immense pleasure to host the Istanbulites and visitors in collaboration.