Culture Shocks

Istanbul is suddenly full of powerful and unsettling art. Andrew Finkel feels the pain at this year’s Biennal.

Istanbul transforms itself this autumn – as it does every two years – into a treasure hunt for contemporary art. One of the attractive features of the Istanbul Biennial is that it is dispersed, along with a host of neighbouring events, over a variety of venues and neighbourhoods. This is all to the point of the 15th edition, entitled A Good Neighbour, and curated by the Scandinavian duo Elmgreen & Dragset. The title drips irony. All the images here are about experiencing alienation and the inhospitable rather than overcoming differences. All, except bottom left, are at the Galata Greek Primary School in Karaköy. There is a green lawn of upturned jagged Coke bottles by South African Lungiswa Gqunta, and a corrugated camp for displaced persons by Olaf Metzel. An Alice-in-Wonderlandmaze, with smaller and smaller portals, is designed by Leander Schönweger to disorientate.Wonderland is also the title ofa deeply affecting video by Mardin-born Erkan Özgen of 13-year-old Mohammed, deaf and mute, who mimes the horror of fleeing his Islamic State-controlled home in Syria.

Other Highlights from Cornucopia 56
  • A Life in Tents

    Peter Alford Andrews and his late wife, Mügül, set out to catalogue the traditional yurt – the ultimate portable dwelling. It became their life’s work.

  • Good Vibrations

    An exciting new spirit of creativity is flourishing in Yeldeğirmeni – once a place of windmills and construction workers. But will this vibrant neighbourhood of Kadiköy be able to maintain its delicate balance of old and new? Katie Nadworny reports. Photographs by Monica Fritz


  • The City of a Thousand and One Churches

    Today a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, a thousand years ago Ani was a bustling commercial city where East and West converged. By Robert Ousterhout. Photographs by Brian McKee


  • Aphrodite’s City

    No wonder Aphrodisias was the Emperor Augustus’s favourite city in Asia. Famed for its exquisite sculpture and unsullied surroundings, for Patricia Daunt it is the most beautiful site in the classical world


  • Jam Tomorrow

    In a chilly spring the apricot trees of Cappadocia were frothing with white blossom. By early summer the boughs would be heavy with fruit, to be eaten fresh from the branch, dried in the sun – or made into conserves like bottled sunshine for the cold winter months.

  • Turkey’s Wine Renaissance

    After a road trip like no other, taking in many of the best of Turkey’s burgeoning wineries, Kevin Gould and the Cornucopia tasting panel raise a glass (or several) and recommend the best of an impressive bunch



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Issue 56, October 2017 Brave Old World
£12.00 / $15.43 / 93.44 TL