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Apartman 52: home of the ultimate flaneur

Mustafa Horasan, Sleep of the darkness, 2015

An apartment is part of a building composed of various rooms that form a  space for housing. The etymology of the word apartment comes from apartare which means apart, to separate, divide up. It’s also the name of the exhibition currently taking place in Nemlizade Sk. no52, Yeldeğirmeni, Istanbul. Exploring the topics of social fragmentation, feeling of home, getting together, « apartman » is a collective exhibition that gives meaning back to the link between space and art.

art and space

The constant reference to the notion of apartment makes sense if we stop a few seconds on the singular location of the exhibition : we happen to be in a 4 floors-old building that belongs to the architect Hayri Ödensoy and whose last floor is used by artist Bedia Ekiz since 7 years as as studio space.  The location is about to be renovated but before that, the rooms are being invested by the art pieces of 23 artists under the curation of Tuba Kocakaya and ​Lara Lakay. The artists are participating in the construction of this big all, questioning the idea of the habitat, the quest for home, floor after floor.

The transition condition of the place reveals the current state of the reflection, as a participative concern, a collaborative preoccupation under construction, an ongoing process. What can contemporary art do for the fragmented society ? The division of the apartment, room after room, tries to engage in a conversation on that through the dialog between the 23 artists. 

From the top floor the Bosporus is partly visible. The Haydarpaşa railway station is only a five minutes walk away. It is wrapped up like a parcel right now. The city is awaitin the destiny of one of its historic icons. Some of the german engineers, who constructed the railway station as part of the Bagdat railway road at the brink of the first wold war stayed at this building in Yeldeğirmeni. The exhibition is like a knocking on the door of a time  tunnel, reviving diffferent shades and features reflecting shifting relationships. Or as the curators formulate: “A mass meeting, a ritual, so that out togetherness is blessed. Because where you are is my home.” The show is looking for dialogical beauty, visitors that are not steepping on the old but enrish the community with new stories and details, the “ultimate flaneur”.



a breeze of freedom in the apartman

The singularity of the exhibition definitely lies in its spatial composition : you wander through the floors, climbing up the stairs, escorted by the sound installation of Ayşe Zeynep Hatipoğlu and Gökhan Deneç titled « Cevabi Dostum, Eser Rüzgarda / The Answer My Friend, Is Rolling in the Wind ». The symbiosis between the art and the location goes up to the point that there is no plate on the side of the art pieces : the names of the artists are directly written on the wall with a pencil. I could even observe some women carefully taking pictures of the door handles, not focusing too much on the installations. Nevertheless the art works use the space as a resonance space. Just in the entrance a monochrome painting by Gökhan Deniz is reminding sound waves. The artist uses traditional Japanese İnk on Forex. The title of the work is “Shush, Don’t make noise” and reflects the attempts to silence voices in a neighborhood or a society. As the visitors explores the different floors a fine subtile breeze of freedom  circumvents this order. The artists revive the space with subtile creations of 23 voices in the apartman. Each one shades light on a different spot of reality. A visit to a mountain village for a funeral, fading features of animals in a landscape, an alternative heaven as an utopian drawing landscape of a playful joyful freed space for sexuality are some of the rich inhabitats of the apartman.  The exhibition offers a diverse range of productions : from photography to sculptures, installations, paintings, videos, it’s a great representation of the dynamism of the Istanbulite artistic scene.


Dinçer İşgel, Şirin, 2021

The apartment is promised to renovation after the exhibition. But one can remain optimistic, as the owner of the building, Hayri Ödensoy, said he didn’t want the future of the venue to be detached from art. We can also notice the involvement of one of the curators, Tuba Kocakaya, in the Mamut Art Project whose aim is to open Turkish art to wider masses while creating an artistic awareness for future generations. This effervescence is really promising and keeps on shedding light on this part of the Anatolian side, and the neighbourhood of Yeldeğirmeni in particular, as a fertile land for art in Istanbul.


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