Weekend gallery guide: Odysseys and Oracles

Ai Weiwei's provocative porcelain works

By Katie Nadworny | November 23, 2017


The Biennial has wrapped up but there’s still plenty of art to see in the city. If you were too busy exploring Biennial events to see some of the other notable exhibits, now is your chance.

Ai Weiwei On Porcelain at Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Emirgan

The Chinese artist and provocateur Ai Weiwei has a solo show at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, timed to align with the 15th Istanbul Biennial but on for another two months. Now that the Biennial has finished, it's a perfect time to visit this sprawling exhibition.

One highlight is his piece entitled Odyssey, which engulfs an entire room, wallpapering the space with images of refugees seeking safer lands that seem to go on an endless loop. Punctuating this meditation on migration is Ai's famous piece Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, depicted in a lego mosaic.

The show encompasses all kinds of work in and on porcelain and touching on topics like the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and his own house arrest in Beijing. It's interesting to see a show that grapples with the Chinese version of censorship at a museum in Turkey, and the points it makes are loose enough that those who wish to interpret it as a inherent comment on local politics can support their claims, while other can easily say that they don't see the connection at all.

Did you know: At The Seed, the shining performance space at the Sabancı Museum, there are monthly classical music concerts featuring splendid internationally-renowned artists. Read about the upcoming performance for the Istanbul Recitals series here.

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