ALEXANDRA – 4 Turkish galleries showing at prestigious Armory Show in NY

4 Turkish galleries showing at prestigious Armory Show in NYThe 17th edition of The Armory Show, New York City’s blue-chip contemporary art fair, held this year March 5-8, is featuring four Istanbul galleries among the hundreds of international exhibitors. Three of them were selected to appear in this year’s special “Armory Focus” on works from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean lands.

The fair opened with a preview on March 4 and is housed on two piers on the Hudson River bordering the western edge of Manhattan. This year, it is hosting 199 of the world’s premier galleries from 28 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

In addition, the fair has kicked off “Armory Arts Week,” a city-wide program of cultural events and exhibitions in all of New York’s five boroughs. Ten satellite contemporary art fairs are also running in other Manhattan locations.

Among the wide range of ambitious presentations is the thematic installation “Armory Focus: Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean (MENAM),” curated by Omar Kholeif, who selected 16 galleries, three of which are Istanbul’s Galeri NON, Galerist and Pi Artworks. Focus: MENAM highlights specific works and artists from Cyprus, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Dubai, Greece, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia as part of a continuing commitment to provide a platform for emerging art markets.

To that end, they partnered with two non-profit art initiatives, Art Jameel and Edge of Arabia, to fashion educational components like symposiums, site-specific projects and curated presentations throughout the fair’s five days. Kholeif, speaking to the press, explained how this project was being developed.

“We searched for key historic figures in the MENAM region to give us perspectives on how their artistic movements started. Happily, we are experiencing increased exposure, particularly with institutions like the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum ” The journey through the MENAM section begins with a six-meter-wide interactive wall display of giant jigsaw-puzzle pieces made of plastic, magnets and iron sheets, all of which are painted white.

They are arranged haphazardly, as if they cannot be interlocked properly. It is artist Oraib Toukan’s “The New(er) Middle East” (presented by EOA Projects from London) — her take on the decision made by Western powers after World War I to divide the MENAM region into politically and ethnically separate zones.

This work gives visitors some historical underpinnings for what they’re about to see. Galeri NON, making their debut at The Armory Show with the Focus invitation, features the work of JordanianBritish artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who is also The Armory Show’s commissioned artist this year His exhibit titled “A Convention of Tiny Movements” (on another floor of the fair) shows new ways of perceiving objects: something very ordinary may be listening to your voice or recording your conversation.

His sinister disclaimer on his specially designed potato chip bags warn consumers: “The chip starts here. Anything you do or say in the vicinity of this object may be recorded for training or monitoring purposes.

” Similarly, artist Meri Algun Ringborg splices one-sentence disclaimers into the title pages of famous novels, a five-piece framed set of which hangs on Galleri NON’s booth wall. The Pi Artworks booth is dominated by a giant birdcage made of palm wood sticks.

It’s the work of Egyptian-German artist Susan Hefuna whose fascination with grid-pattern structures around the world dominates most of her designs. Also on display are sets of framed drawings of intersecting perpendicular lines.

With strikingly minimal means she invites us to ponder the emotional spaces inside or outside the grid box. Pi Artworks owner YeIim TuranlI noted a certain difference being in New York with Hefuna’s work.

“I’ve noticed that Hefuna’s drawings have a special energy that speaks more to New Yorkers than, say, those in Hong Kong,” TuranlI said. “The drawings are very intimate and allow people to attach their own stories to them” Galerist is showing exclusively the work of Turkish feminist artist Nil Yalter, her oil paintings on linen “Hommage to Marquis de Sade,” a collection of Polaroid photos taken between 1976 and 1980 and her video made in 1987 in response to the fact that at that time all video producers were men.

In another area of the same hall is Dirimart, showing works by six Turkish artists — Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Rustem KasapoIlu, Ekrem YalIndaI, Ebru Uygun, Haluk Akake and Cenk Akaltun — in their third year as a participant in The Armory Show. Another Turkish artist, Iz ztat, is represented by London’s Moving Museum here and is showcasing her series of watercolor paintings.

Her work was exhibited at SALT Istanbul last June and will be shown next May at the Venice Biennale, as will that of Ringborg. For all four Turkish galleries, the participation in The Armory Show means exceptional levels of international exposure, particularly in the MENAM focus area Eda Berkman and Ekin Kohen of Galerist state: “It’s a big opportunity to be invited by Kholeif.

Nil Yalter’s work wasn’t known before.” For Derya Demir of Galeri NON, it raises a vital point: “We have much more recognition and support from collectors internationally than in Turkey,” she says.

TuranlI of Pi Artworks feels that “It’s a new focus for our geography. [Being here] generates a new kind of dialogue.

This is my fourth time at The Armory Show and the first time in the Focus section. Viewers love to talk about Istanbul and their impressions of its art scene.

” Egyptian-born Kholeif, the curator of the Whitechapel Gallery in London and a former director of many Arab-British cultural organizations, feels their joy. “Despite all the challenges, like the layers of bureaucracy and the shipping problems, these galleries all pulled through.

I’m so proud of them Last year, there were 65,000 visitors. How amazing is it that that size of public can see these works? From the 1960s to living artists [of the MENAM region], you never get to see this kind of retrospective!” Turkish artist Meri Algun Ringborg’s five-piece series featuring the title pages of famous novels is among works presented by the Istanbul-based Galeri NON at this year’s Armory Show, which runs March 5-8, in New York City.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman