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On the spot: Panoramic Gaze on Istanbul

A History

October 26, 2023 – August 18, 2024

The Pera Museum, Meşrutiyet Cad 65, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu, Istanbul

On the Spot opened a month after Istanbul as Far as the Eye Can See at Meşher, and shares some the same works and etchings (writes Thomas Roueché). While it is smaller, it is certainly more ambitious conceptually. The curatorial team has set out to show how images of Istanbul intersect with the historical evolution of the cityscape as an artistic and cultural form. It’s a challenging brief that, when it is successful, is remarkably enlightening. The show is more interested in digging into the conceptual weeds of the ways in which these panoramas were made, even if the remarkable history of the form here is somewhat obscured by heavily academic language, than it is in their artistic or aesthetic quality. Arguably the two shows are best seen together, Pera for its conceptual framing and Meşher for the sheer breadth and beauty of the work. Perhaps the most striking detail that emerges is the extent to which these images – whether the etchings of Melling, Barker’s panoramas, or the works of Clara and Luigi Meyer – circulated so widely in editions and reproductions in a world where access to such images was limited. These were the definitive versions of what the city looked like, a sense that it can be all too easy to forget today.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
£ 15.00