Face of a miner at Instanbul Modern, #turkeyminedisaster on my mind

Miner, Nedim Günsür
Detail: Miner, Nedim Günsür

While there’s protests on the streets, water cannon and armoured riot police in back alleyways, Instanbul Modern proudly adorns its walls with this work, Miner, by Nedim Günsür. To me, it’s a protest in itself.

More striking for me is how little I know about artists from this area. As an artist, my art worldview is wallpapered with American, British and Europeans artists, with small windows of opportuntity for other artists to squeeze through.

It seems mean-spirited that large auction houses scramble over Rauschenberg, while others of a similar ilk barely raise an eyebrow outside their own country.

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There was a beautiful range of collage and mixed media, I was particularly taken by this massive landscape work, Landscape of Silence by Azade Köker, 2010 It has a real malevolence to it with plastic skulls bursting through the forest.

Landscape of Silence, Azade Köker, 2010
Detail: Landscape of Silence, Azade Köker, 2010

The work I was most taken with was a sculpture, it was tucked away in the corner, fighting against a plate glass window overlooking the Bosphorus. It has a Magritte-esque feeling to it. Karatakta (Blackboard with Dressed Mannequin Hand) by Aydan Murtezaoglu, 1992, is instantly recognisable as a echo of history where Mustaf Atatürk stood in front of a chalkboard outlining the new alphabet for Turkey.

Karatakta, Aydan Murtezaoglu, 1992
Detail: Karatakta, Aydan Murtezaoglu, 1992

It was simple, beautiful, compelling and it drew me into a part of history and part of a country that I know so little about but which has embraced me with wide, welcoming arms.

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