How to curate contemporary art?

Published 17.11.2019 19:22
Updated 18.11.2019 09:50
How to curate contemporary art?

Organized through the collaboration of Akbank Sanat and Open Dialogue Istanbul, the 'Curating Contemporary Art' seminar series provides a comprehensive education in curation theory and practice

A seven-month seminar series “Curating Contemporary Art,” which is organized by the cooperation of Open Dialogue Istanbul and Akbank Sanat, has kicked off at the beginning of November. Although the event is called a seminar series, it is a very comprehensive program on curation which offers both theoretical and practical information.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Billur Tansel, the founder of Open Dialogue Istanbul, provided detailed information about the lineup of Curating Contemporary Art and also told the story of Open Dialogue Istanbul.

Founded by Tansel in 2015, Open Dialogue Istanbul was a nomad art project to make educational programs, talks and dialogues at home and abroad. Even if it was a nomad project initially, Tansel did not have any difficulty to find proper places for the activities that they held as she has been in the art world for long years. She worked as a curator and a museum and gallery director before.

However, the events organized under the roof of Open Dialogue Istanbul diversified in a year and the platform embraced its own venue in Istanbul’s Teşvikiye neighborhood in 2016. Purposing to provide a platform to young curators, artists and writers, as well as an in-the-field training opportunity to art students with no such experience, the platform has various events arranged by Tansel herself including seminars, talks, workshops for children and adults as well as its curatorial projects.

Talking about their children's activities, Tansel said, “At the beginning of the project, we formed a committee including psychologists and artists from a raft of different fields for our children projects. We have prepared various programs by considering young people’s development. Recently, we offer very useful events like philosophy workshops, art workshops in which significant artists and their works are introduced and wall painting workshops to our young people.”

Implying that they always improve the programs and adds new ones to them, Tansel remarked, “Children are our future. We need to teach art to them as a lifestyle, not as a hobby. A lot of people try to comprehend what contemporary art is today. However, it is actually the discourse of the present time. Everything experienced in life is reflected in works of art.”

Open Dialogue Istanbul also has many programs for adult participants. For example, they organized a songwriting workshop under the supervision of Alper Tuzcu in the previous days. Stating that they organize a brand new seminar series on psychology in the latest period, Tansel continued, “When people want to consult a psychologist, it can cost them a lot. However, these seminars are organizations with minimal prices. The attendees are informed about a subject and they can all ask their questions about their experiences at the end. We organize the psychology seminars for parents as well so that they can improve their relationship with their children.”

Back in the curatorial programs, the platform has launched various exhibits in cooperation with Open Space Istanbul to date. For example, the “Crossing Lines” exhibition, featured works by seven international artists, took place in London in 2015. Recently, the Curating Contemporary Art seminar series is the highlight of these curatorial programs.

Focal point: Curating

The seminars aim to create a prestigious and unequaled platform of education in the field of curatorship in Turkey. Tansel said that they received 76 applications for the seminars and their jury selected 21 among them. “We wanted to make the seminars like a master's program with intensive training sessions. Instructors from many places around the world and experts like Esra Aliçavuşoğlu, Seda Yavuz, Emre Zeytinoğlu, Besim Dellaloğlu, Alistair Hicks, Marcus Graf, Haldun Dostoğlu, Melih Görgün, Andrew Finkel and Ali Akay come to share their experiences. We have made this pre-selection to find the most proper people who treat this profession seriously.”

Highlighting that they did not plan this seven-month seminar series as a yearlong event, Tansel also mentioned that they aim to organize Curating Contemporary Art in the next years with more improved lineup and contents. “In realizing such important projects, collaborations between institutions are so important. As Akbank Sanat has collaborated with us, we could prepare this project in the best way. I hope we will sustain it in the next years by developing more.”

Reporting that the seminars have progressed interactively to date, Tansel asserted that the sessions cover all subjects about curating from how to perform it to its legal processes. As they are carried out with an educational, practice-based and research-oriented approach, the sessions feature case studies on biennials, galleries, museums and art fairs as well.

At the end of the seminar series, which will run until the end of the next May, the attendees will present their final curatorial projects and receive a certificate of completion. If these projects are deemed good enough to be displayed, they will be showcased at Akbank Sanat in August.

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