Each Thursday on the Cornucopia blog we share our pick of exhibitions in Istanbul to visit over the coming weekend.
Living in Ortaköy, I jump at the chance to get away from the crowds. This week I'm sharing two places I often visit when I need a breather. The first is the Borusan Contemporary in Rumelihisarı, housed in the ten-storeyed Perili Köşk, noted for its distinct brick façade and rounded tower. I love nothing more than to munch on an ekmek arası köfte from Kalite Köfte, a hole-in-the-wall attached to the Ali Petek Camii, then explore the artwork placed throughout the Borusan offices and end with a leisurely walk along the Bosphorus down to Bebek. The other spot is the Elgiz Museum. Tucked amongst the skyscrapers of Maslak, this gallery feels like an oasis. The terrace is particularly peaceful.
(i) ‘Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders’, 2015, interactive digital installation; (ii) ‘The Void’, 2016, digital work, four channel, ed 1/6
Exploring the intersection of technology and art, the artist collaborative teamLab creates digital art that is fundamentally interactive, deepening our relationship with reality. There are only five works on display at Borusan, but each one requires keen observation. The two interactive installations – both pictured above – are particularly engrossing.
‘Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders’ and ‘The Void’ create a combined digital work where butterflies emerge on the wall as a projection and then fly onto the blank monitors; the projection and monitor are seamlessly connected. When someone touches a butterfly while it’s projected on the wall, it dies, whereas those displayed on the monitors cannot be killed. The entire work changes according to the viewers’ participation. I'm embarassed to say that I killed all the butterflies (I know, I’m a monster) just to see what would happen – the monitor and wall stayed blank for quite a while, letting the guilt really sink in.
‘Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per House’ (2015, main featured image) also revolves around the interaction between the viewer and the installation. In real time a computer programme creates various flowers that spring up, grow, blossom and wither, and these images are then projected on all four walls of a dark room. When standing still in front of a wall, new flowers spring up in bunches. But as soon as a viewer touches a flower on the wall, it immediately begins to lose its petals. The immense joy of watching the flowers grow is immediately replaced by the dismay of seeing them wither away. It is a visceral lesson on the delicate balance and distance between people and nature.
Lee Sang Hyun, ‘Tears of Fallen Blossoms’, 2009, multimedia Installation, 3.32 min
Borusan Contemporary is unique in that it’s only open to the public on the weekends. During the week, the space functions as the headquarters of Borusan Holding. The exhibition Deck Voyage is sprinkled throughout the office space, making the show feel a bit disjointed. But you can still enjoy the new media works selected by the curator Necmi Sönmez from the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection. My favourites were Lee Sang Hyun’s two pieces, one of which is featured above. These multimedia installations make references to current problems with allegorical narrations that sometimes border on the absurd.
A few of the sculptures included in the show ‘Fugitive Shadow’
This outdoor sculpture exhibition, presented on the Elgiz Museum terrace, pays homage to the Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, who once said, ‘The difference between painting and sculpture is as great as between a shadow and the object casting it.’ The works are all loosely related to the theme of shadows as understood in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, where shadows are a metaphor for the illusory world. It’s fun to visit the exhibition at different times of the day to observe the changes in shadow caused by the rotating sun and the massive skyscrapers surrounding the terrace. What's especially nice, though, is the chance to contemplate the various sculptures in relative peace and quiet – with no throngs of visitors to distract you.
‘teamLab: Between Art and Physical Space’ and ‘Deck Voyage’ end on October 16. ‘Fugitive Shadow’ ends on November 12. Please note that the Elgiz Museum is closed on Sundays.