On 2015 with Three Curators

We have left 2015 behind us as a very busy year in art. We have asked three different curators with various projects from our art scene about their selections of the past year’s highlights, ranging from art fairs to exhibitions, from biennials to artist talks.

Necmi Sönmez, Josef Albers Museum Bottrop
Dr. Necmi Sönmez, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop



Exhibition of the Year

Nazım Hikmet Richard Dikbaş’s exhibition titled “All Day and All of the Night” at Karşı Sanat Çalışmaları. While Nazım continues his  investigations in a variety of techniques, he manages to transform his conceptual concentrations by inventing new forms of imagery, and without falling into the trap called repetition.

Artist of the Year

Cengiz Çekil whom we lost in November 10 2015 was a “hidden” artist, relatively less well known in Turkish Contemporary Art in spite of his extraordinary work of over forty years; although he managed to examine Turkey’s recent history through imagery, his works were unknown. The artist whose works were acquired by important collections including MoMA and Guggenheim, is amongst the names with the most interesting experimentations in his generation.

Museum of the Year

Josef Albers Museum. This small museum in Bottrop in Germany presents works by the Bauhaus artists Anni and Josef Albers as well as interesting temporary exhibitions. Here I have recently visited a comprehensive retrospective by Walker Evans.

Art Phenomenon of the Year

“SANAT HAYAT” book series by Ali Altun, published by İletişim. With its high quality and highly responsible level, this series with 37 crucially important books  is a “mind-opener”, something that we have been looking for for a very long time in Turkey. “Sanatın İktidarı” authored by Ali Artun himself was published in early December.


Naz Cuguoğlu


Exhibition of the Year

For me, this year’s mindblowing exhibition was Şahin Kaygun’s show at Istanbul Modern. While interdisciplinarity is still an upcoming notion in Turkey, the artist’s experimental and layered interventions on photographs pushing technical boundaries,  and his Polaroids as a debut for Turkey carried the viewers to the edges of consciousness in the exhibition’s dark atmosphere, in harmony with the political depression of the 80s.

Artist of the Year

Signs of Time artist group, composed of Huo Rf, Sena, Sabo, Burak Ata and Ecem Yüksel, young artists that always excite me with what they do. The members of the collective whose organic structure open to collaboration,  dialogue and discussion I find very valuable and necessary especially under contemporary conditions, realized their third and most recent exhibition “Cross the Earth, Her Head is in the Balcony” at Pi Artworks.

Museum of the Year

Baksı Museum. Founded by Prof. Dr. Hüsamettin Koçan and located in the Bayraktar village of the city of Bayburt, the museum is a lesson for all of us on how a contemporary museum can be more embracing and didactic, with its projects aimed at reverse migration, with its support for the education of the local women and children and women’s employment, as well as its design, art and culture initiatives and its exhibitions combining the traditional with the contemporary.

Art Phenomenon of the Year

The launching of the Aziz Nesin Art Village, coordinated by Işın Önol. In the art village, students aged between 17 and 21 without access to the learning conditions  they need within the existing education system, participated to lectures and workshops on ‘critical thinking and idea generation’ as part of a two-week pilot program. Reaching out to the youth at such an early age and the combination of theoretical lectures with practical skills such as presentation and portfolio preparation under the supervision of prominent education professionals is a priceless initiative for Turkish art scene. I look forward to its continuation.


Ebru Yetiskin - Photo 1
Ebru Yetişkin


Exhibition of the Year

“Moving Image #2” by Prizma (Lara Kamhi and Eli Kasavi), for it surrounded the human being with imagery and sound thus integrating him into a singular world, and for rendering accessible those  tendencies that transform the cinematic into the physical via the use of site-specific structure, sound installation and visual narrative. The spatial experience “Water Soul” by the Yoğunluk initiative was also worthy of seeing.

Artist of the Year
Bager Akbay. His work titled “The Pitiful Story of Deniz Yılmaz” that we exhibited at Contemporary Istanbul Plugin New Media Section, turned the concepts of today’s artist, artwork and viewer upside down. Designing a robot that writes poetry and curating a social media identity for it, Akbay allowed us to observe the processes of the currently dominant artificial stupidity, through Deniz Yılmaz who believes that publishing or selling his or her poems will bring him/her fame.
Museum of the Year
This year both Pera Museum and Sabancı Museum organized interesting events.
Pera Museum’s video art exhibition and the panel program as well as the outdoor installation by Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett were worthy of attention. “Zero” exhibition at Sabancı Museum was very well organized and informative, particularly for those who become recently familiar with contemporary art.
Art Phenomenon of the Year
In my opinion having AKM (Ataturk Cultural Center) still closed is one of this year’s phenomena.  Also Emin Alper’s film “Abluka” was one of the highlights of 2015; it was awarded at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, the sound and music design of which belonged to Cevdet Erek just as Cenker Kökten’s “Sivas” of the previous year that was also awarded in Venice.


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