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SALON in SALT Galata

The 60s living room of a couple of musicians becomes the occasion to tell about the subsurface birth of Turkish modernity.

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by Angela Rui

SALT, the contemporary art centre recently opened in Istanbul thanks to the far-sightedness of Vasif Kortun (critic and curator, writer and teacher in the visual arts field), certainly is one of the most interesting cultural institution of the Turkish megalopolis. Split in two different locations, SALT Beyoğlu & SALT Galata, the nonprofit institution has the primary goal to spark off thought and critical debate, by organizing innovative research programmes and boosting the multidisciplinary experimentation of the artistic language.

Inner courtyard of SALT Galata, Istanbul. Photo by Iwan Baan
Inner courtyard of SALT Galata, Istanbul. Photo by Iwan Baan

This should be after all the basis of every cultural activity, but what makes SALT special is the awareness to “make” culture to settle and get possession of the culturals origins of a contradictorily new country (given that Costantinople is one of the most ancient cities of the history of civilization), founded on the paradigma of the westernization and whose origin coincides with the birth of the Republic of Turkey, less than one century ago (1923).

Among the SALT Galata programmes, Modern Essays dedicates to the investigation of the westernization process through single accounts, stories, political positions, works, by focalizing through exhibitions, meetings, performances and talks the notion of progress in the cultural practice, which starting from the 60s often walked unofficial, subsurface paths, as a symbol of a culture manifesting itself parallel with the political condition of the country. A culture that went on developing on an anti-institutional level, considering the ten year dictatorship (1971-1980) about which no global and articulated analysis was yet done.

We visited SALON, fourth appointment with Modern Essays, a calibrated installation reproducing a living room equipped with furnishings between 50s and 60s, placed on a layout clearly tracing the plan of a flat. From this simple image of domesticity, a glimmer of modernity appears: the flat belongs to the composer Ulvi Cemal Erkin and the pianist Ferhunde Erikin – both of them key figures in the Turkish musical panorama, above all as professors – and is located in Ankara (Capital of Turkey) in a building designed in 1956 by the studio Bediz-Kamçıl, who were also commissioned the project of eight new towers in the Emek quarter, representing the first suburban development of the city.

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Modern Essays #4 / SALON
SALT Galata
Bankalar Caddesi 11
Karaköy 34420 Istanbul Türkiye

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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