Meeting Europe – Istanbul

exhibitions / projections / publication

25 NOVEMBER 2009 – 30 NOVEMBER 2009

Within the framework of st-art’09, 14th European Contemporary Art Fair, Strasbourg

Meeting Europe – Istanbul:

– “TAMAM“, exhibition of contemporary artists
– “Projected Visions“, 35 years of Turkish video art
– “Traveller and diplomat. Views of Turkey on the edge of the 20th century” photographs from the collection of the Nicephore Niepce Museum, Chalon-sur-Saone, France
Exhibition and residence of Fikret Atay at the High School of applied arts, Strasbourg

4 events – more then 30 artists – over 150 artworks

No city better than Istanbul could reflect the transitions, transformations and urban and socio-economic upheavals that our huge present-day conglomerations are undergoing. So Istanbul, the city par excellence, consequently prefigures apollonia’s latest project: “e-cities…” which is devoted to Europe’s cultural diversity and, more particularly, the multiplicity of its contemporary art expressions.

Meeting Europe – Istanbul” is a clear testimony of our interest in border situations, be they geographic or, above all, cultural and artistic. Through our exhibitions we contribute on our scale to the identity issues confronting societies with a wide variety of cultures. We further delve into the subtle conflicts arising between dominant cultures and minority expressions.

Meeting Europe – Istanbul” aims to present to a wide European public some of the aspects of current Turkish artistic creation. Needless to say, we have limited ourselves to certain facets which we consider particularly significant and representative, without seeking to be all-encompassing.
From Byzantine Constantinople to Turkish Istanbul, the city has evolved out of innumerable elements derived from diverse civilizations while being itself a source of inspiration for many cultures.

Meeting Europe – Istanbul” is based on the everlasting duality of the past and the present, on continuity, but also on breaks from traditional cultures occurring over time. In this presentation, which covers all the events included in the programme, we have endeavoured, by means of criticism and monographic texts, to bring out certain key elements to help better take stock of the various aspects of contemporary creation. Through a series of interviews with artists, art critics and gallery owners, we have sought their views and provoked their reactions concerning fundamental questions confronting present-day Turkish society which are still sometimes the source of misundertanding in our Western societies. On purpose, we have pointed up clichés and stereotypes usually associated with Turkey, its artists and its current creation e.g. the question of women or religion, or the everlasting issues of orientalism and exoticism. The debate has opened but this is just a beginning inasmuch as we are so far, it seems, from mutual understanding, so far from what we all long for: respect for, acceptance of and living with our cultural differences.

Over and above politicking agitation about national identity, it would be absurd to imagine our societies without a system allowing of a composite mixing of many cultures including their ethnic and religious components.

Strasbourg, also a border city, can become the ideal arena to pursue these interrogations and projects.

The “e.cities…” project is first and foremost a meeting with oneself in that it urges us all to face the question of the Other, this other person who is different but not, for all that, in a conflictual or destructive relationship. The whole point is to move on to a society that cultivates difference.

Dimitri Konstantinidis,
Director of Apollonia
November 2009